By Mellica McPherson-Ganda
Known child abuse offenders will be prevented from crossing the border of the BVI and other UK Overseas Territories (OT) now that Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith has committed the Territory to the highest standard of child protection.
The BVI Leader inked the Memorandum of Understanding with other Overseas Territories (OT) leaders during the recently concluded Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) that was held at Lancaster House in London on 1 and 2 November.
The Memorandum which was developed by the Falkland Islands has the support of the mother country – United Kingdom. In the communique of the JMC it was stated that the leaders of the Overseas Territories demonstrated their commitment to ensuring the highest standards of protection for children in the Territories via the MOU.
Through the Memorandum of Understanding the Falkland Islands bonded the other Overseas Territories in their efforts to protect children as the document essentially ensures child safeguarding practice across the various territories.
The commitment made by the BVI and other OTs includes the development in the next year of national response plans to maintain children’s well-being. “We also welcomed the opening for signature of the Overseas Territories Memorandum of Understanding developed by the Falkland Islands to promote more effective collaboration between the Territories for the safeguarding of children,” the communique said.
This agreement will among other things provide for effective information-sharing that will be aimed at preventing the movement of offenders across borders and strengthening the ability of the territories to achieve safe recruitment into posts working with children.
The MOU was signed at the JMC by the governments of Bermuda, the British Antarctic Territory, the British Indian Ocean Territory, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, St. Helena and Tristan da Cunha, Pitcairn, the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Although the official signing took place this month, the notice of the MOU was given since last year’s JMC. At that Joint Ministerial Council, which was held on 1 and 2 December, 2015 the OT Leaders had set out a shared intention to strive towards best practice in protecting all children within their jurisdictions.
At that meeting the OT Leaders including Hon. Smith agreed to work together towards a Territory led road map and memorandum of understanding, proposed by the Falkland Islands.
“We stressed our determination to put children’s needs at the heart of the safeguarding system and create environments in which all children have an equal opportunity to flourish. We committed to Child Safeguarding Reviews in all of the inhabited Overseas Territories by the end of 2016, noting that some of these had already been held while others were being planned,” the 2015 Communique stated.