Seychelles’ child protection commission wants safer spaces for kids online
A newly appointed National Commission for Child Protection in Seychelles has highlighted the importance of tackling the issue of cyber security where children are concerned.
Erna Athanasius, who was reappointed as chairperson, said that “if I had to pick something today, let’s get this cyber security out of the way, because when someone is abusing someone subtly online no-one knows about it until it’s too late.”
In April last year, three men were convicted and sentenced to 25, 12 and 8 years imprisonment respectively on 26 sexual offence charges committed against children. According to court documents the three men used Facebook to lure and groom young girls by promising modelling jobs and money.
Athanasius added that “child protection is more pressing than everything because if it involves the safety of a child, it remains pressing.’
The new National Commission for Child Protection was appointed on September 15 this year by the Minister for Employment and Social Affairs, Patricia Francourt, who also holds the portfolio responsibility for children’s affairs and child protection
The Commission, which met on Friday, is a high-level advisory committee with the mandate to look at all matters concerning children. It brings synergy with other stakeholders to identify gaps in legislations and policies that hinder the responses to address critical issues impacting on the wellbeing of children.
In launching the Commission’s first meeting, Francourt urged the Commission to raise the bar higher and go beyond the advisory role and dig deeper than remedial actions.
“The mandate doesn’t stop after the meeting ends. It takes you to the next level. …You become accountable to make things happen within your sector and area of expertise and to report back,” said the Minister.
One of the laws that the Commission has worked on was the safety of children travelling on motorbikes.
As a result, the law now stipulates that for a child to ride on motorbikes or scooters with their parents they have to be aged 10 and older.
The legislation will also tackle children being seated properly in vehicles with the required safety belts and car seats where appropriate.