Minister for Health and Social Development, Honourable Ronnie W. Skelton has declared that the Status of Children Act, 2014 comes into force on October 31, 2014 under section one of the said Act.
The Act was passed during the Fifth Sitting of the Third Session of the Second House of Assembly held March 27, 2014. It repeals the Legitimacy Act of 1929, removing the legal distinction between children born in wedlock and those born outside of wedlock. It confers on children born to unmarried parents the same legal rights and legal status as are enjoyed by children born in wedlock.
Minister Skelton affirmed in March, 2014 that the implementation of the Bill will continue the process of ending discriminatory practices against children and protect future generations of Virgin Islanders.
The enactment of this legislation is among a series of measures undertaken by the Ministry of Health and Social Development to protect and advance the rights of children in the Virgin Islands, including the implementation of a Child Protection Protocol that was signed on 1st October 2014, marking the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Additionally, the Act will bring the Territory into compliance with its international obligations under the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms Chapter of the Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was ratified by the United Kingdom in 1991 and extended to the Virgin Islands in 1994. Article 2(1) of the CRC states that parties to the Convention must respect and ensure the rights set forth in the Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind.
Section 26 of the Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007 also provides for protection against discrimination, which is defined as affording different treatment to different persons on any grounds including family relations, birth or other status; subject to certain exceptions.
The Ministry of Health and Social Development provides leadership that promotes health, social wellbeing, and a safe environment as positive resources for sustainable human development.