April 8, 2011
Parliament passes Status of Children Bill

After a prolonged delay, the Status of Children Bill had an easy passage during last Tuesday’s sitting of the House of Assembly.{{more}}

The Bill seeks to recognize all children regardless of whether or not they were born in or out of wedlock and entitles them to the same rights, according to Augustus Stephenson, Minister National Mobilisation, Social Development, The Family, Persons with Disabilities, Youth, Sports and Culture.

He added that under Article 9 (3) of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child, it states that the rights of the child separated from one or both parents need to be respected.

Article 7 provides for the child to be cared for by both parents, Stephenson continued.

He referred to statistics of children born between 2007 and 2009 as provided by the Ministry of Finance.

During this period, 5,628 children were born.

The statistics further revealed that of this number, 4,757 were born out of wedlock and 871 in wedlock.

“The 4,757 and thousands more certainly did not ask to be born. they are human beings and are Vincentians holding the highest office as citizens,” the minister said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said that the Bill has been brought before the House before the last general elections and although former Minister of National Mobilisation Mike Browne would have wanted to proceed with the Bill, a plea was made for more consultation.

“The Bill had been circulated. we sent it to the Bar Association and we have given all the time, but the members of the Opposition did not attend the meeting of the Select Committee and didn’t attend the sitting to debate the Bill,” Gonsalves said. (DD)