"Maldives has strategic opportunity to translate international commitments to children's rights into tangible legal, policy and programmatic action for the prevention and elimination of violence against children"

Malé (Maldives) 8 May 2013 - 

In a five-day visit to the Maldives, SRSG Marta Santos Pais expressed her support to national efforts to address concerns about a young girl of 15 years of age victim of sexual abuse and sentenced to flogging, whose case has received worldwide attention and whose protection remains a serious concern.

“I welcome the expression of condemnation by the President and other Maldivian authorities, as well as civil society, of the sentence issued against this this girl. This case is in fact paradigmatic of the wider situation of violence against children, and provides all of us with an important opportunity to push for change to prevent similar cases from happening again. In this regard, I also welcome the decision of the President to set up a Child Protection Committee to identify loopholes in the child protection system and to present recommendations to overcome existing challenges.” said the SRSG.

At the end of her mission, Ms. Santos Pais stressed the key opportunity provided by the forthcoming national elections to safeguard children’s rights and “keep children above politics”.

“Children represent the most precious value of any nation and a fundamental indicator of social progress. Children are a unifying factor and bridge across every political, ideological or economic divides. I am confident that the unique opportunity to promote a lasting consensus around children’s well-being and protection will be seized by Maldives, and this vision will inform the future of this country. The forthcoming National Children’s Day on 10 May is an opportunity to move in this direction.”, added the SRSG.

Ms. Santos Pais also highlighted the importance of a continuous work in the area of human rights  that are a cornerstone of the Maldives’ Constitution, which explicitly provides guidance to state institutions, including courts, to act in line with international treaties ratified by the country.

“It is urgent to further consolidate the national normative framework for the protection of children from violence. It is imperative to improve in the legislation a clear legal prohibition of all forms of violence against children, including in the home, in care and justice institutions, as well as a form of criminal sentencing.”

The SRSG identified areas of concern and stressed the importance of preventing social acceptance of violence against children by investing in awareness raising about children rights amongst the public-at-large and supporting families in their child-rearing responsibilities to protect children from violence and the urgency to promote capacity-building and training initiatives for teachers, social workers, law enforcement officials, judges, prosecutors and other child protection actors who have a unique potential to safeguard children’s protection from violence and to intervene in case incidence of violence occurs.

Furthermore, the institutionalization of a high-level platform where all leading departments and institutions responsible for child protection concerns meet periodically to shape a long-term strategy to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against children was also considered a key priority to safeguard children’s protection from violence.

During her visit, the SRSG hold very positive discussions with Government officials, Parliamentarians and other political parties, members of the judiciary, as well as national institutions and civil society organizations working in the area of child protection.

SRSG Statement Maldives