“NATIONAL CHILD PROTECTION PLAN, AN EFFECTIVE TOOL TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN”

“National Protection Plan, an effective tool to protect our children”

The social, political and economic difficulties of Haiti further weakens the children of our country, especially those with special needs, like street children, children with disabilities, those who work in the fields, in families known as “restavek (Children in servitude)” … .. .., most of these children are abused, have no identity, and do not enjoy the privileges and prerogatives of citizens.

In 2000, a group of institutions in Haiti had begun to reflect on the development of a national child protection plan. At the time, the organization that had led such an initiative had discontinued its operations in Haiti, and there had been no follow-up. Six years later, more precisely, in October 2006, UNICEF and the Ministry of Social Affairs (MAST) had completed a two-day symposium with the aim to validate the national protection plan for the children in difficult circumstances (Le Nouvelliste, December 6, 2006). This plan should provide the framework for assistance to children. On this occasion, the Minister of MAST promised in a speech given at the opening of the symposium, to follow up and seek the approval of the Council of Ministers and the Prime Minister, stating the following, “ Our goal for the National Child Protection Plan (PNP) is to provide every child the best conditions to grow and flourish.” Nothing was done, priority actions and implementation mechanisms proposed in the document over a period of five years had not been realized. In April 2012, the Institute of Social Welfare and Research (IBESR) invited the actors who were involved in child protection to a meeting to rethink the system of protection provided to children, and to develop a strategic protection plan for 2012-2017.

If the document of National Child Protection Plan developed in 2006 is an important tool, indispensable in the national effort to eradicate violence against children in Haiti, the strategic plan for its implementation is even more so as it enables players in the protection chain (IBESR, MAST, National Office of Citizen, Peace Court ), civil society, government and non-government institutions, and leaders of rural communities, to focus their field intervention.

This is an important project, vast, for the state to take leadership with the support of international, national and civil society, to take appropriate measures and initiatives to actively fight against child abuse. It must be based on the present situation of the country and the local structures in place to be useful in carrying out this work. In fact, CASECS (the Boards of Directors of the Communal Sections, ASECS (the assemblies of the Communal Sections )
IBESR (Institute of Social Welfare), and other community leaders are needed to reach remote areas of the country where most children come from, it is the daughters and sons of the members of rural communities who are most affected by the abuse … … These local actors (CASECS, ASECS …) represent the local authority and, being more aware of the situation in their specific communities, can be an extension of the various actors in the protection chain (IBERS, MAST, BPM, Juvenile Court, Office of Citizen Protection, Peace Court) for children in their respective areas, inaccessible to most. The translation of such a document in both languages of the country is important to guide the actors working in Child Protection.

Today, our legal framework to protect children is strengthened with the adoption and ratification of several International and national instruments (opportunity to be taken to eradicate violence against children). Despite this significant advancement at the legal level, a concrete response needs to occur at the national level. We are witnessing a significant blockage, it is difficult to cross from theory to practice and curb the abuse of children. Indeed, it is difficult to address this issue without touching the problems that plague Haitian society (social, political, economic) … This is why a political decision must be taken to protect children against all kinds of violence, and why it is essential that the actors work together, coordinating their efforts. As long as the field interventions are not coordinated, and are not within a comprehensive strategic plan that takes into account local realities of the country, as long as institutions continue to work independently, it will be difficult to arrive at a concrete outcome.

Difficult or not, we must all address the structural causes of violence against children. By developing appropriate resources and expertise necessary to meet the real needs of children in cities and in rural communities, the abuse of children can be ended once and for all. The fight against child abuse needs to be seen no longer as being merely helpful, but as moral and legal obligations.

An approach that involves everyone, especially rural communities whose reflections are rarely considered is essential.

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