Samoa to seek funding to improve children's rights
The ministry responsible for children in Samoa says it will seek more funding to implement the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
The ministry responsible for children in Samoa says it will seek more funding to implement the recommendations of a United Nations committee.
A review in Geneva last week called for more work to protect children's rights in the country.
Among its recommendations are prohibiting physical punishment, raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility from ten, stopping the use of children as street vendors and compulsory free primary education.
The chief executive of Samoa's Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development Beth Onesemo spoke with Koroi Hawkins about the reccomendations.
BETH ONESEMO: The committee has given us their recommendations and we have agreed to adopt all of them. But, basically, their recommendations are in line with what has been given to us in the past, for example, the recommendation that we withdraw the reservation that Samoa has made to article 28 of the convention...
KOROI HAWKINS: That's on free education, right?
BO: That's on free education and there's a number of other specific recommendations that have been made by the committee but we've had a look at all of it and we've accepted them all because they are in line with the programme of work that we have set out for the next five years.
KH: One of these things is to adopt a childcare and protection bill. What's in that new piece of proposed legislation?
BO: That basically provides for a comprehensive legislative framework to not only domesticate the CIC -- the convention -- and provide us with a comprehensive framework to set up a system for the care and protection for our children. So guiding principles in line with the guiding principles of the convention and also setting up systems to ensure the care and protection of children, especially when they are at risk. So the bill, at the moment, is being finalised, we're looking at final policy options for some of the areas that need resourcing and ensuring that we have the capacity and the systems in place to implement the act once it's brought into being.
KH: A section against the violence against children, the committee applauds that the state has prohibited corporal punishment in schools and official areas, but it says this could be strengthened to include banning it from use in homes and in the community.
BO: That is the recommendation that was made by the committee and we accept the recommendation that this was an area that we need to work on. Our approach is that while it would be easy to put it into law, and certainly that's a policy issue that's being considered at the moment under the child care and protection bill, our approach is that substantial change needs to be made through education and awareness raising and support to parents and to teachers and to everyone that's responsible to children to ensure that they not only understand the fact that smacking children does not work to bring about desired behaviour, but that there are alternative ways of ensuring that children be responsible, behave in a way that's respectful of others and don't hurt themselves and other people. So the legislative response option is being explored at the moment, but the focus in the past two or three years has been to do that training and do that awareness raising for parents and caregivers so that they have the tools to be able to raise children who are healthy, have initiative, have leadership and all of those things without having to smack them because it simply does not work.
KH: So across the whole spectrum, a positive report for you? Is that what you're taking away from this?
BO: I mean, obviously all of these reviews are about gauging where we are at and very fine validating the priorities which we need to address. So a lot of the issues -- in fact, all of the issues -- that the committee raised were things that we ourselves going into the review were things that we ourselves, going into the review, knew were things that had to addressed and that we knew we weren't doing quite so well then and those have already been included in what we call our sector plan; basically, the programme of works for us for the next five years which is guided by government's higher level policy and plan. So the process for us was really a validation and a verification of the progress that has been made, but more importantly the gaps where we still need to do better and to improve our concerns.
KH: And of course to do these things you will need technical, human and financial support. Is this a basis for you to ask for more funding for your departments?
BO: Not only do we use these findings to advocate for resource mobilisations internally, but they also become the basis of our negotiations and our request for support from all of our development partners in their areas of expertise to help us out for partnerships in the various areas of outcomes that need to be moved forward. So we already have some existing partnerships, and we are already working on some of these areas, but it's about ensuring that we continue to do justice in terms of resourcing to all of the spectrum of issues that need to be addressed and validated by the committee findings.
Beth Onesemo says they are seeking resources to implement the plan over five years.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: