Queen calls for child protection
QUEEN ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso has called for the greater protection of children’s rights in order for Lesotho to realise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Her Majesty made the remarks during the recent commemoration of the Day of the African Child at Motimposo Primary School in Maseru.
The Day of the African Child is commemorated annually in June in memory of the 16 June 1976 student uprising in Soweto, South Africa, during which students who marched in protest against the poor quality of education were massacred by the then apartheid regime in place in South Africa.
This year’s theme is ‘Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunities for children in Africa by 2030’.
During the commemoration, Her Majesty highlighted the need to protect children from child marriages and other forms of abuse in order to attain the SDGs.
The SDGs, also known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
Goal 16 of the SDGs is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels.
“In particular SDG 16 is related to peace, justice and strong institutions is important as it includes protection and enforcement of the rights of children from abuses such as violence, child trafficking and child labour in global agenda for development,” Her Majesty said in her address.
Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso further added that promoting empowerment and striving for equal opportunity for all children is cross-cutting and permeates through several SDGs as well as the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC).
“Without any doubt, it (the ACRWC) touches on the protection of children.
“Promoting empowerment and pursing equal opportunities stems for the right to non-discrimination that is contained in Article 3 of the charter and remains one of the core principals of all the rights of children.
“Empowerment and equal opportunity requires that we should target all groups in order that no child is left behind, with particular attention given to the rights and needs of the poorest and most marginalised.”
Article 3 of ACRWC states that “Every child shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognised and guaranteed in this Charter irrespective of the child’s or his/her parents’ or legal guardians’ race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status”.
The event was also attended by representatives of the Ministry of Social Development, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and other non-governmental organisations who also shared their thoughts on the progress made so far in securing the rights and welfare of the African child.
“Today and in past years, we stand and continue to honour the resilient spirit of the children and youth in 1976 who fought on behalf of African children on our beloved continent on their rights to be honoured and respected; regardless of sex, race, ethnicity and age.
“The Day of the African Child is not an event but a deliberate and conscious reminder to all of us to take stock of progress towards the protection of all the rights of all African girls and boys.
“The African Charter which Lesotho ratified on 27 September 1999 and our very own Children’s Protection and Welfare Act of Lesotho of 2011 encapsulates all the rights and responsibilities for the African Child,” said UNICEF Country Representative, Nadi Albino.