‘United in one pur­pose, let us con­tinue to proac­tively pro­mote jus­tice for all young peo­ple’

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Pres­i­dent of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca yes­ter­day said in mat­ters of jus­tice, there can be no dif­fer­ence be­tween the ac­cess which is avail­able to adults and the ac­cess avail­able to chil­dren.

She was open­ing the 2nd Na­tional Con­fer­ence on Child Well­be­ing, or­gan­ised by the Pres­i­dent’s Foun­da­tion for the Well­be­ing of So­ci­ety. The theme of this year’s con­fer­ence is ‘Ac­cess to Jus­tice for Vul­ner­a­ble Chil­dren’.

In her speech, Pres­i­dent Coleiro Preca said that, “Ac­cess to jus­tice is a fun­da­men­tal hu­man right, and a ba­sic need that must be met for us to con­tinue nur­tur­ing and pro­tect­ing the dig­nity of all. How­ever, the right to ac­cess to jus­tice still seems, in the minds of many, dis­con­nected from the re­al­i­ties faced by chil­dren”.

The Pres­i­dent ap­pealed to all those present that their ef­forts should be guided by the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Rights of the Child, to which all na­tions, ex­cept the United States of Amer­ica, are sig­na­to­ries, adding that “we must fol­low the CRC’s em­pha­sis on the need for pow­er­ful guar­an­tees which make sure that ev­ery child is able to en­joy his or her hu­man rights”. Pres­i­dent Coleiro Preca said that if the guar­an­tees and safe­guards of the CRC are not taken se­ri­ously, ‘then we are fail­ing our chil­dren from en­joy­ing their right­ful free­doms’.

Pres­i­dent Coleiro Preca stressed that we all must strive to en­sure that hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions, es­pe­cially those that oc­cur to chil­dren, need to be im­me­di­ately ad­dressed. While do­ing this, the Pres­i­dent said that the pro­vi­sion of cred­i­ble and ac­tive as­sis­tance to chil­dren needs to be a pri­or­ity, mak­ing the best use of the re­sources avail­able, and cre­at­ing child-sen­si­tive pro­cesses (which em­power the chil­dren), where re­sources are lack­ing.

The Pres­i­dent said this in light of the fact that jus­tice also con­sists of the ways in which pro­fes­sion­als, who work in the jus­tice sys­tem, in­ter­act with chil­dren. The Pres­i­dent stated that the po­lice, child pro­tec­tion ser­vices and psy­choso­cial car­ers need to be prop­erly trained ‘to fa­cil­i­tate our united vi­sion of a world in which chil­dren and young peo­ple have full ac­cess to jus­tice’.

The Pres­i­dent also ap­pealed that the me­dia, the par­ents, the guardians, and civil so­ci­ety as a whole need to be made aware that chil­dren’s in­volve­ment is es­sen­tial ‘in our ef­forts to en­sure ac­cess to jus­tice for all’.

Pres­i­dent Coleiro Preca said that the nec­es­sary struc­tures and re­sources must be cre­ated, to en­sure that chil­dren, who­ever they might be, will be pro­vided with ef­fec­tive ac­cess to jus­tice.

“We must do all that we can for chil­dren to un­der­stand, to use, and, most es­sen­tially, to trust the le­gal sys­tems that pro­tect and fa­cil­i­tate the chil­dren’s rights and their well­be­ing”, the Pres­i­dent said, whilst adding that chil­dren must know that when they need jus­tice, it will not fail them, and they should be aware that the le­gal process is read­ily avail­able to them, and that it is ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing their best in­ter­ests.

With all this in mind, the Pres­i­dent’s Foun­da­tion for the Well­be­ing of So­ci­ety has set up a Chil­dren’s Coun­cil and a Young Peo­ple’s Coun­cil. These coun­cils are in­tended to sup­port the Foun­da­tion in all its works. Pres­i­dent Coleiro Preca praised this ini­tia­tive and said that by fa­cil­i­tat­ing these groups, a space is be­ing cre­ated in which the con­tri­bu­tions of chil­dren and young peo­ple can be shared with oth­ers and built upon.

In con­clu­sion, the Pres­i­dent said that ev­ery child should also have ac­cess to ap­pro­pri­ate means by which to en­joy their rights, and to ad­dress their im­por­tant le­gal needs, and also ap­pealed that ‘we must work to­gether to en­sure that vul­ner­a­ble groups are given our fo­cused at­ten­tion, and re­ceive equal rights and op­por­tu­ni­ties’.

Pres­i­dent Coleiro Preca said that ac­cess to jus­tice for chil­dren can no longer be dream, but it should be a goal that must be achieved.

“United in one pur­pose, let us con­tinue to proac­tively pro­mote, nur­ture and de­velop ac­cess to jus­tice for all our chil­dren and our young peo­ple. In this way, we shall share a pow­er­ful com­mit­ment to en­sure the full dig­nity and the mean­ing­ful well­be­ing of ev­ery mem­ber of our com­mu­ni­ties, our so­ci­eties and our world”.

The 2nd Na­tional Con­fer­ence on Child Well­be­ing was also ad­dressed by Dr Ruth Far­ru­gia, Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the Pres­i­dent’s Foun­da­tion for the Well­be­ing of So­ci­ety; Ms Maria San­tos Pais, Spe­cial Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Sec­re­tary Gen­eral on Vi­o­lence against Chil­dren; Ms Regina Jens­dot­tir, Coun­cil of Europe Co­or­di­na­tor for Chil­dren’s Rights; Ms Astrid Pod­si­ad­lowski, Head of Sec­tor on Rights of the Child in the Euro­pean Union Agency for Fun­da­men­tal Rights; Ms Danielle Dou­glas, Lec­turer in So­cial Care in the School of Hu­man­i­ties within the Waterford In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy; Ms No­rah Gib­bons, So­cial Work Prac­ti­tioner and Man­ager in both the statu­tory and NGO sec­tor in Eng­land and the Re­pub­lic of Ire­land; and Mr Sean Downey, a Youtu­ber who pushes bound­aries to de­liver his mes­sage about chil­dren’s rights.

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