Child pro­tec­tion act to em­power chil­dren and child care pro­fes­sion­als

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Rebecca Iversen

The re­cently pro­posed child pro­tec­tion act by the Min­istry for Fam­ily, Chil­dren’s Rights and So­cial Sol­i­dar­ity is set to em­power chil­dren and child care pro­fes­sion­als in a new way.

Min­is­ter Michael Fal­zon yes­ter­day said the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion was be­ing seen as a break­through in the field of child pro­tec­tion.

Fal­zon an­nounced that a sixweek con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod had be­gin and that the first read­ing of the pro­posed bill was planned to be pre­sented be­fore Par­lia­ment closed for the sum­mer. The min­is­ter stated that all stake­hold­ers had been duly con­sulted afresh and many of their pro­pos­als had been in­cor­po­rated into the pro­posed act. How­ever, any pro­pos­als to im­prove the bill were still wel­come.

Lawyer Andy El­lul spoke of the le­gal changes and pro­pos­als the new child pro­tec­tion act will be of­fer­ing.

In the pro­posed new act, care and cus­tody of mi­nors in need of pro­tec­tion will no longer be en­trusted to the min­is­ter and, as such, the min­is­ter will no longer be in­volved in the is­su­ing of care or­ders. The gov­ern­ment will no longer be di­rectly or in­di­rectly in­volved in such sen­si­tive de­ci­sions, which will be taken ei­ther by the Ju­ve­nile Court or by the Re­view Board, as the case may be. The Re­view Board will not only be con­sul­ta­tive in nature as the cur­rent Chil­dren and Young Per­sons Ad­vi­sory Board, but it will be tan­ta­mount to a quasi-ju­di­cial board.

This does not mean that the state will be com­pletely di­vested of all re­spon­si­bil­ity in the case of chil­dren re­moved or sep­a­rated from their par­ents and placed in out-home care. It shall re­main re­spon­si­ble for tak­ing all ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures to pro­mote the well-be­ing of chil­dren and to pro­vide all the sup­port ser­vices re­quired to en­sure that chil­dren’s rights and in­ter­ests, as safe­guarded by the act, are pro­vided.

The act in­tends to rem­edy a sit­u­a­tion where the state in­ter­feres in the chil­dren’s well­be­ing with­out there be­ing the pres­ence of a court of law, rep­re­sent­ing in­de­pen­dence and im­par­tial­ity, to as­sess the cases and cater for a care plan which will ul­ti­mately pro­vide for the fu­ture of the chil­dren con­cerned. This act also in­tends to bring the Mal­tese ‘care or­der’ sys­tem in line with judge­ments of the Eu­ro­pean Court of Hu­man Rights and of the Mal­tese Con­sti­tu­tional Court.

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