MUSCAT, SEPT 15 – The Sultanate has a strong political will which helps protect children from all sorts of violence, said Dr Najat Maalla M’jid, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children. “Oman has a strong political commitment in protecting the rights of children. It also does not tolerate crime against children as it is marching towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals towards 2030,” Dr Najat said. She made the comments during an interview with the Observer on the sidelines of seminar conducted by International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre on Sunday.
“NGOs such as Children First are more useful in organising the civil societies to work towards achieving the goal. I could see that children are protected from all sorts of violence and also ensuring the fundamental rights of every child born here,” she said. Dr Najat also hailed the case management and coordination among many sectors that help implement children’s safety effectively. Cross sectoral and reference system should be made prompt to ensure that children have very quick response to their requirements.
The conference was organised under the auspices of HH Sayyida Dr Mona Fahd al Said, Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Cooperation at SQU and Chairman of the Conference Organising Committee, said that the protection of children. It is held in cooperation with the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), Ministry of Social Development, Children First Association and the Unicef, and attended by nearly 400 experts, professionals and high-level officials from over 35 different countries around the world.
Additionally, Unicef representatives from 14 country offices including the regional offices and headquarters are taking part in the conference.
“ISPCAN is the sixth version of this international platform that brings practitioners from different sectors on issues related to violence against children. We are closely working with the government hand in hand to make sure that we have some workshops and events that will yield some practical initiatives that can be implemented in further enhancing the rights of the children”, said Lana Wreikat, Unicef representative to the Sultanate.
In the Sultanate, the government has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1996 and the Child Protection Law of 2014 deals with crimes against children with stricter penal modalities. Very recently, the country has re-enforced the execution of the Child Rights Law. “Such international conferences are instrumental in bringing forth experts from across the world in different fields sharing their knowledge and expertise, analysing their challenges and find common solutions. I hope the 227 scientific papers being presented at the conference will be of great use, and we hope to transform these theories into actual practices on the ground”, HH Dr Sayyida Mona said.
Several protection themes are addressed and they include, besides violence against children and child abuse, cyberbullying, domestic violence and its impact on the well-being of the child, legislation, successful initiatives addressing child violence and the like during the 3-day conference. Unicef will also introduce during the closing ceremony a new dimension to child protection by evidencing the power of music as a healing agent.
Composer and musician Jad Rahbani will perform along with Omani children on the occasion, which will also witness the launch the Child Protection Ambassadors programme. “We are always supportive of the initiatives aimed at schools to build additional infrastructure for kids besides smart TVs for both public and the expatriate schools while encouraging children to save for their future”, said Aisha al Kharusi, AGM, Head of CSR, Al Izz Islamic Bank, one of the key supporters of the event.