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Why take 15 years to bring Optional Protocol to Parliament - Anare Jale

Why take 15 years to bring Optional Protocol to Parliament - Anare Jale

By Dhanjay Deo
Monday 28/09/2020
SODELPA MP, Anare Jale [Photo: Anare Jale Facebook Page]

SODELPA MP, Anare Jale has today questioned the Child Services Unit of the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation on why it has taken them 15 years to bring the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography to parliament.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence has been informed that Fiji signed the Optional Protocol in September 2005 but is yet to ratify it.

Assistant Director of the Child Services Unit, Ela Tukutukulevu told the committee the purpose of the Optional Protocol is to prohibit the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

While responding to Jale, Tukutukulevu says they have been working on other bills that ensures the safety of Fijian children.

She says they are presenting the Optional Protocol now as they realise that cases of violence against children continues to increase and there are risks to children with all developments taking place in the country.

Tukutukulevu says the Ministry is moving into securing this Optional Protocol to ensure they have mechanisms in place to safeguard children in Fiji.

Jale was not satisfied with the response and raised the issue again.

The Director of Social Welfare Rupeni Fatiaki then said they will go back and research on the issue and come back with a response for the Committee.

The Optional Protocol requires State Parties to at a minimum, ensure that offences related to the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography are fully covered under its criminal law and to establish jurisdiction over such offences when the offences are committed in its territory or on board a ship or aircraft registered in that State.

In her submissions to the committee, Tukutukulevu says the Office of their Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva has made an analysis of the Optional Protocol in regards to Fijian laws and has concluded that ratification will not add any further obligation as the current laws already cover the legal obligations under the Optional Protocol.

She further submitted the Fijian Constitution, Crimes Act 2009, and Online Safety Act 2018 clearly represent Fiji’s position against the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the relevant offences under the Crimes Act 2009 and the Online Safety Act 2018 prescribe penalties well above 12 months imprisonment.

Tukutukulevu also submitted the Fijian Constitution guarantees all Fijians freedom from slavery, servitude, forced labour and human trafficking and freedom from cruel and degrading treatment.

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