From 28 to 30 November, the Flemish Children’s Rights Commissioner, Bruno Vanobbergen, visited South Africa where he exchanged views with a number of government departments, international organisations and NGO’s on the implementation and monitoring of children’s rights. Fruitful discussions with UNICEF, the Department of Justice and the South African Human Rights Commission focused on the children’s rights regulatory framework in the country, as well as opportunities and challenges in this area.
Mr Vanobbergen had the opportunity to undertake two relevant field visits. The first visit, to a children’s day care centre in Hillbrow, was organized by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) in the framework of their youth volunteering programme. A second visit, to Alexandra, comprised a Khulisa Social Solutions parenting workshop.
The Children’s Rights Commissioner also gave a lecture on the on the necessity for and the role of a national children’s rights ombudsperson; the lecture and discussion were hosted by the Centre for Child Law of the University of Pretoria. In closing this full programme, Save the Children SA, who have just released an alarming report on violence against children in South Africa, gave Mr Vanobbergen a tour of their touching exhibition at Constitution Hill and shared their approach and efforts to tackle the issue.
The Commissioner concluded his visit to Southern Africa in Mozambique from 1-2 December. The purpose of the visit was to learn from the children’s rights policies and instruments of other countries and to exchange ideas and experiences on these issues. Mr Vanobbergen’s visit slots into the Development Cooperation Programme of the Governments of Mozambique and Flanders with its focus on strengthening the health system in Mozambique, specifically in the area of adolescent health.
The Commissioner had courtesy meetings with the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Action, as well as with the Vice-President of the Parliament of Mozambique, and had fruitful discussions with the President and members of the Mozambican Human Rights Commission. UNICEF introduced the Commissioner to its work in Mozambique, and he visited one of their flagship projects, the birth registration call centre. Mr Vanobbergen met with ActionAid, a new beneficiary of the Flemish development cooperation programme in Mozambique, working in the fields of women’s rights, participatory democracy and economic alternatives. He furthermore visited SAAJ, an adolescent and youth friendly service at Maputo Hospital which focuses on sexual and reproductive health for young people, as well as a police unit dealing specifically with violence against women and children. The visit concluded with a roundtable discussion involving civil society organisations working in the field of children’s rights.
The visit was found to be most interesting by all parties involved and follow up exchanges and discussions are in the pipeline.