Information on the children’s rights situation in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (the BES islands) is still lacking. The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in the Netherlands and Defence for Children are asking attention for this dilemma in their recently published tenth year report on children’s rights in the Netherlands and the Caribbean Netherlands.
“It is a problem that figures are missing about groups of which we know that they are vulnerable, such as a number of children in the Caribbean Netherlands,” said Defence for Children Director Aloys van Rest. “This lack of data makes it impossible to determine whether we are helping these children in the right way.”
“Data on the wellbeing of children in the Caribbean Netherlands are still lacking. It is important to get a better view on the situation of children and the input of youth care on the islands,” it was stated in the year report.
UNICEF Nederland and Defence for Children advocate a periodic data collection in the Caribbean Netherlands of not only general information on the situation of children on the islands, but especially on the prevalence in tackling of children’s abuse.
It was noted in the year report that the Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports, in consultation with the Public Entities Bonaire, Statia and Saba, has made an inventory of the necessary measures to strengthen the curbing of domestic violence.
Authorities decided to first focus on securing the basic facilities to tackle domestic violence and children’s abuse, and to also pay attention to prevention and the promotion of expertise. A hot-line will be set up.
The Ministry and the Public Entities still have to arrive at an agreement for the period 2017-2020. “These are important developments that require close monitoring,” stated UNICEF Nederland and Defence for Children in the year report.
The Caribbean Netherlands doesn’t have a separate criminal justice system for the youth, as is the case in the Netherlands. According to UNICEF Nederland and Defence for Children, it is important to implement this system for the islands that includes the safeguarding of legal rights of minors. Figures of 2016 show that 92 youth cases were handled in Bonaire and Statia in that year.
A report of the Inspection Youth Care of March 2016 showed that much improvement is needed in the Caribbean Netherlands in the area of youth care, especially to enhance the safety of children, to provide specific assistance, to strengthen the quality and capacity of professionals, and to secure sufficient means and foster families.
Research by UNICEF Nederland of 2013 has shown that there is great poverty and much domestic violence in the Caribbean Netherlands. The Dutch Government is making 1 million euros available on a structural basis to fight poverty and has started the process to establish a social minimum in order to guarantee a decent standard of living for the people on the islands.
“We appreciate that the government has taken measures to fight poverty in the Caribbean Netherlands, but we emphasize that a better view is needed on the situation of children and the input of youth care. We will keep a close watch on these developments,” UNICEF Nederland and Defence for Children stated.
The two organisations concluded that much work was being done to improve the situation of children so they can grow up safely and healthy. “It is of essential importance that this attention remains and that the eradicating of poverty and the strengthening of facilities for children on the islands continues.”
UNICEF Nederland and Defence for Children pointed out that it is important to have a clear repartition of responsibilities between the different Dutch Ministries and that the cooperation with the Public Entities takes place in an efficient manner.
The organisations also sought attention for the combating of human trafficking and smuggling in the Caribbean Netherlands, especially where it concerned children who run a higher risk of becoming a victim in the Caribbean and Central America.
The Daily Herald.