MKM to hold national forum on child rights

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THE Brunei Council on Social Welfare (_Majlis Kesejahteraan Masyarakat _or MKM) is planning a national forum on child rights later this year in a bid to enhance understanding of the issue.

MKM President, Datin Paduka Hjh Intan Hj Mohd Kassim, said although the forum is still in the conception phase, it is slated for the second half of 2015.

“We want to engage all the local NGOs involved in children’s issues to create some sort of meaningful agenda for the protection and promotion of children’s rights,” she told The Brunei Times.

“In Brunei, we are quite privileged to have some of these rights already taken care of by the government, and our job is to identify and improve where there are gaps in the provision.”

MKM recently held a consultation between UNICEF and local NGOs to review the implementation status of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) in Brunei Darussalam.

Datin Hjh Intan said there is a low awareness of the rights enshrined in the CRC, a legally-binding treaty which Brunei ratified in 1995.

“To understand the convention better we need to look past just basic welfare or needs… Awareness is improving now but there is more to be done.”

She added that there are several activists from regional organisations that have expressed interest in facilitating the forum.

“We hope that through more workshops and consultations with bodies like UNICEF we can give more exposure to these NGOs and they will feel more involved in the process.”

“It is good for more people to know about the convention, especially our young people who are very active and very open and they are keen to participate,” said the MKM president.

During a children’s rights workshop held for local NGOs in Jerudong last week, regional activists stressed the need for a regional framework for the protection and promotion of children’s rights in ASEAN.

MKM’s vice president, Nur Judy Abdullah, said this year the NGO will turn its focus towards advocacy of children’s issues.

“Our activities can be in the form of forums, workshops, debates. We will do similar workshops like the one with UNICEF and extend it to other districts,” she said. “Since there is a lack of awareness on what child rights is inthe Brunei context, we at MKM will find ways to bridge the gap and explore other possibilities of raising awareness and understanding on child rights.”

The Brunei Times