MINISTRY OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS, CHILD DEVELOPMENT, FAMILY WELFARE AND CONSUMER PROTECTION
National Progress Report of the Special Session of the General Assembly on Children – “A World Fit for Children” INTRODUCTION
Since 1991 the Ministry of Women’s Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare and Consumer Protection is mandated to cater for children in the cohort of 0-18 years. It is responsible for designing, implementing national policies, programmes and projects relating to children. Children policies have over the years, expanded much beyond child survival and basic education: policies now encompass other aspects of child development including protection and child rights. Children have the right to have their basic needs met, not only for survival and protection but also to be able to develop their full potential to participate as members of society and to grow up to be caring and responsible citizens. As at July 2005, the number of children was estimated to 364,757 over the whole population of 1,243,253, accounting for 29.3% of the population in the Republic of Mauritius. (source: Central Statistics Office ) Mauritius has ratified several important international human rights and instruments. It acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in July 1994 and ratified the Convention in 1985. Mauritius has ratified the Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC) in 1990 and ratified the ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Labour. In 1993, the Government signed the Hague Convention on Civil aspects of Child Abduction. The Optional Protocol to the CEDAW, the Optional Protocol on the CRC on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflicts and the Optional Protocol on the CRC or the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography has been signed in November 2001. It has signed the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development in 1997 and in September 1998, it signed the Addendum to the Declaration on the Prevention and Eradication of Violence Against Women and Children. Mauritius being a party to the Beijing Platform of Action has also identified gender-based violence as one of the critical priority areas at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. Mauritius has also signed the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and its ratification is in process.
CREATING A WORLD FIT FOR CHILDREN
National Legislations, Policies and Action Plans (i) NATIONAL LEGISLATIONS Child Protection Act
A Child Protection Act was enacted in 1994 with the main objective of giving protection to children victims of abuse and neglect. The national laws have been harmonized in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In this respect, a number of laws pertaining to children have been amended in the form of Child Protection (Miscellaneous) Act, the Criminal Code (Amendment) Act and the Criminal Code Supplementary (Amendment) Act. In accordance with Article 4 of the CRC to take appropriate legislative measures for implementation of the rights recognized in the Convention, Government undertook in 1998 a series of amendments to 23 pieces of legislation under the Protection of the Child (Miscellaneous Protection) Act such as amendments in the Child Protection Act itself, Cinematography Act, Civil Service Family Protection Scheme Act, Dangerous Drugs Act, Legal Aid Act, etc The Child Protection Act has been amended, amongst which a) the definition of the word “harm” has been extended so that “harm” now is defined as “includes physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or moral injury, neglect, ill-treatment, impairment of health or development”, the definition “place of safety” has been amended to also include “a convent, a charitable institution, an institution for...