An ombudsman should be appointed to safeguard children’s rights, according to Save the Children International, which last week hosted a Child Rights Governance workshop with civil society organisations, religious leaders and the media
By Cherry Thein | Monday, 27 October 2014
An ombudsman should be appointed to safeguard children’s rights, according to Save the Children International, which last week hosted a Child Rights Governance workshop with civil society organisations, religious leaders and the media.
Senior adviser Brynjar Nilsen, of Save the Children Norway, told participants that such an appointment would guarantee attention to children’s rights.
“We hope the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission will establish a specific commissioner for children’s rights in 2018 or 2019,” he said, adding, “We see our role as offering technical support and facilitating dialogue with child groups to support their capacity to monitor children’s rights.”
The ombudsman would be an independent institution for the protection and monitoring of children’s rights, working within the human rights commission. He or she would take the initiative in monitoring children’s living conditions, as well as legislation, policy and practices related to children, and take up individual complaints with the power to investigate. The ombudsman would also raise awareness, document, discuss, criticise and make recommendations, but could not adopt laws or implement policies, rescind the decisions of other authorities, or enforce recommendations.
“The ombudsman is a messenger from the people to the government,” said Mr Nilsen.
U Khin Mg Tun of Kayah Phue Baptist Association said Myanmar’s political changes had created opportunities to strengthen children’s rights.
“We have always been engaged in caring for children’s welfare, but now we can contribute to child rights governance,” he said. “At the same time, we can only work in our specific [geographical] area. It is important that the government improves policies, which cover all children around the country.”
Participants in the workshop said the aim would be both to support and, if necessary, put pressure on the authorities to make a reality of children’s rights and to facilitate a vibrant civil society, and to hold the authorities accountable when they failed to do so.
Daw Sandar Win, of Save the Children’s Yangon office, said they would be working more with the media to raise awareness on child rights.