Guyana gives the nod to new legislation providing greater protection for childrenWednesday, August 04, 2021
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) – The Guyana parliament has approved legislation providing for greater protection of children with the government also indicating that it is drafting new laws to counter people smuggling.
Human Services and Social Security Minister, Dr Vindhya Persaud, who piloted the Adoption of Children (Amendment) Bill 2021, said adoption is a legal and permanent procedure that transfers the rights and responsibilities of parenting to those who are willing to adopt.
She said that the passage of the legislation would provide children with the necessary stability, nurture, and love they need to become productive citizens.
“The amendment of this Bill will allow the establishment of common practice, and procedures that will harmonise the individualised regime, which governs our country’s inter-country adoption with other countries not a party to the Hague Convention,” Persaud said, noting that the 1996 Hague Convention’s function aims to avoid legal and administrative conflicts whilst building a structure for effective international cooperation in child protection matters.
“In this respect, the Convention provides a remarkable opportunity for the building of bridges between legal systems having diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. It also avoids having to redo the entire process outlined in Section 35 B 2 of the Convention.”
Persaud said the Bill also provides further safeguards which protect the child’s parents’ information and the provision of a thorough evaluation of the prospective adoptive parents.
This includes the accreditation of bodies, including any private adoption body or agency, which would be accountable to a supervising or accrediting authority. It also allows the minister to establish a central authority or elect an entity to conduct these functions as outlined in Section 35C.
“We [all] know that even every well-intention legal process like adoption can be manipulated, abused or exploited by profiteers willing to sell children, unscrupulous persons willing to buy children and adults seeking to obtain children for baseless, or selfish reasons, such as sexual, labour and criminal exploitation.
“As such, the Convention aims at creating the right condition under which adoption may take place across borders,” she told legislators.
Parliament was informed that between 2013 and 2020, an estimated 247 children were adopted by non-Guyanese and overseas-based Guyanese including 55 by non-Guyanese nationals.
Earlier, Attorney General Anil Nandlall said the government was drafting new legislation to counter people smuggling and that the new trafficking Bill would also include provisions to specifically protect children.
“We have a new trafficking Bill that will be brought to the Parliament that has in it several provisions that will go hand-in-hand here with the provisions here against transnational smuggling,” he said.
“There is a lot of people smuggling that we are speaking about and we are taking drastic measures to guard against them,” he said.
President Dr Irfaan Ali recently issued an order revoking the automatic six-month visa-free entry of Haitians to Guyana. The move came in the wake of police intercepting several Haitian children and youths, who had entered the country legally, with the possibility of travelling to other countries, most notably the United States.
Nandlall said that the Bill amends the Adoption of Children Act by adopting the Hague Convention of May 29, 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption and is also consistent with the fundamental purpose and intention of The Hague Convention.
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