How much longer must we wait before our Jersey government ratifies the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?
It is evident that Philip Ozouf has no motivation to ratify this Convention and on the most recent “BBC Talkback” made it clear that no funds were available to implement it or other missing international obligations.
Jersey is just one of a few countries – like Somalia – that have not ratified this most important Convention and Ozouf resorted to the same old scare tactic of suggesting that ratification might inhibit the employment in Jersey of children under the age of 16. This was the ancient pretext that the late Senator Rothwell used to kill ratification years ago and the thought that paper boys and girls might in some way be stopped from delivering the Financial Times was just too much for this uncaring community to deal with.
I wonder if Ozouf is so careful to ensure that none of his clothes are stitched together by children in the far-east for pennies and I wonder too if he has ever tried to discover whether the profits from such exploitation are remitted through Jersey’s Tax Haven business?
The fact is that the Convention on the Rights of the Child is accepted world-wide as the framework of minimum standards that should apply to children everywhere. Most countries that have signed up make a genuine attempt to try to ensure compliance and it is especially perverse that such a wealthy place as Jersey cannot even be bothered to try.
Of course, virtually every candidate during the most recent Senatorial elections declared support for ratification and the creation of a Minister for Children with responsibilities to implement the Convention and a coordinated and comprehensive Children’s Service. Did any of them actually mean it? If so, where are they now?
The text of the Convention was published as an Appendix in the Howard League review of Jersey’s youth justice system. Printed copies are available for free from the Greffe bookshop (few copies only left) or the Howard League at £10 (email@example.com) or you can download a copy from the UNICEF site together with lots more information;
The newly appointed Minister of Health is Deputy Ann Pryke of Trinity and she is ultimately responsible for implementing the new Children’s strategy for Jersey. When she was asked in the States recently by Deputy Tadier about the Convention on the Rights of the Child, she clearly knew next to nothing about it.
It will be necessary to push Ann Pryke every inch of the way if any progress on the Convention is to be made. Her telephone number is 86114 and her e-mail;
The Assistant Minister at Health is Deputy Judith Martin of St Helier No 1 District and she is specifically charged with implementing the half-baked ( and already watered down) Williamson report on Child Protection in Jersey. The recommendations of Andrew Williamson fall short of adopting the Convention and even if adequately funded – which seems unlikely – will still leave children in Jersey with an inadequate service.
For what it is worth you should lobby Deputy Martin too. Telephone her on 780641 or e-mail at;
What is certain is that Jersey children will not enjoy the protection of the UN Convention if we leave it to our so called elected “representatives”. We must lobby them and ask questions at every opportunity. Neglect and do nothing are the standards that have prevailed for centuries in Jersey and our government will not reform willingly or with any enthusiasm.
Submitted by Thomas Wellard
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