JIS News

Children’s Advocate Mrs. Mary Clarke, is reminding the nation that the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA), is mandated to protect and enforce the rights and best interests of every Jamaican child.
“The OCA investigates complaints made by or on behalf of a child whose rights have been infringed upon by any action taken by a relevant authority. The Office also reviews services provided for children by relevant authorities to ensure that they are adequate and effective,” Mrs. Clarke said.
She was responding to concerns expressed about which body is responsible for protecting children.
“In cases in which the rights of children are being infringed on by the actions of a relevant authority, all complaints should be reported to the Office of the Children’s Advocate, situated at the Air Jamaica Building at 72 Harbour Street in Kingston,” she said.
She advises that in order to assist the OCA’s investigating officers to carry out their duties, those persons making reports of child abuse should ensure that they provide sufficient information. This information, she said, should include the name(s) of the child or children affected, the nature of the infringement and the location or address of the institution or individual involved in the act.
While noting that there is a shortage of investigating officers at the OCA, Mrs. Clarke said in the past they have investigated complaints relating to children’s homes and places of safety.
“One such place of safety has been closed and the children relocated as a result of recommendations made by this office,” Mrs. Clarke said.
Section 62 of the Child Care and Protection Act, outlines the rights of children who are under the care of the state. Such children have the right to be fed, clothed and nurtured according to prescribed minimum standards, and to be given the same quality of care as other children in placement. This section of the Act also gives the child the right to be consulted and according to the child’s abilities, the right to express his views about significant decisions affecting him. The child also has the right to reasonable privacy, and to possession of his or her own personal belongings.
“Article 20 of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Jamaica is a signatory, states that where a child is without family, the state has a duty to provide appropriate alternative family care or institutional placement,” Mrs. Clarke said.
“The regulations to the Child Care and Protection Act, 2004, detail, but not sufficiently, the entitlement of children in state care. It is the hope of the OCA that there will be a thorough review of the regulations,” the Children’s Advocate added.