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UNICEF Jamaica lauds steps to establish post of Children's Advocate in the island

June 22, 2005

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Jamaica congratulates the Government of Jamaica for having actively pursued the establishment of a Children’s Advocate, which is a post essential to the effective implementation of the Child Care and Protection Act.

UNICEF sees the establishment of this post, which is now being advertised, as a key strategy in strengthening national efforts to protect Jamaican children against all forms of abuse, including violence, exploitation, neglect and deprivation. This move is particularly welcome as the threats against childhood in Jamaica are increasing.

Establishing the post of Children’s Advocate is a sign of the government’s commitment to children’s rights and UNICEF is pleased that the process chosen for appointment to this post is open, transparent and free from partisan interference. This augurs well for the selection of the best possible candidate to protect the rights of children.

UNICEF is fully supportive of the candidate profile as defined by the inter-sectoral committee on the Office of the Child Advocate.

“We are particularly pleased to see that due importance has been given to demonstrated experience in high level national advocacy on children's rights, exposure to international thinking and development on child rights issues, and impartiality. Personal traits will be important as the Child Advocate will need to be able to undertake a strong advocacy, using both tact and persuasion, to think strategically and to demonstrate a clear commitment to taking short-term as well as longer-term actions” UNICEF representative Bertrand Bainvel stated.

UNICEF calls on the government to ensure that the necessary financial and human resources are allocated to the office of the Child Advocate. The organisation notes that the office will require significant resources, commensurate to the tremendous challenges facing children in Jamaica.  UNICEF also further encourages the government and its partners to swiftly implement the other measures stipulated in the Child Care and Protection Act, including the establishment of a Children's Registry, public and professional education campaigns, and effective prosecution of offenders. There is need for careful monitoring of the implementation of the Act and the harmonisation of other pieces of legislation with the Act, as well as a review of the Act after a full year of implementation.

 Finally, UNICEF encourages the Government of Jamaica to ratifying all international protocols strengthening the protection of children in Jamaica, including the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. UNICEF in Jamaica will continue to support the efforts of the government and partners in civil society in protecting children's rights in Jamaica.



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