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Children's Commissioner to be appointed "as soon as possible"

Children's Commissioner to be appointed

Friday 07 July 2017

Children's Commissioner to be appointed "as soon as possible"

Friday 07 July 2017

Recruitment will begin next week for an independent Children’s Commissioner to protect and promote the rights of the Island’s youngest residents – eight years after States members rejected the opportunity to do so.

Chief Minister Ian Gorst signed a Ministerial Decision yesterday to create the role, in line with recommendations published in the damning Care Inquiry report on Monday, which concluded that children “may still be at risk” in Jersey.

Moves to find the postholder will start next week with the development of a “detailed” job profile, which will be produced in consultation with stakeholders including care leavers and experts both in Jersey and the UK.

According to Senator Gorst, the role will involve:

  • Reviewing Jersey laws, policy and our operational practices to ensure they uphold the rights of children

  • Providing an independent complaints and investigation service

  • Ensuring children can access, and participate in, all aspects of Jersey’s society

  • Bringing matters of importance to the States’ attention

“The Children’s Commissioner will hold us to account for hearing children’s voices,” he told the States Assembly this morning.

States members already had the opportunity to create such a position in 2009, just two years after allegations of abuse emerged from the notorious former children’s home Haut de la Garenne. The issue, proposed at the time by Paul Le Claire,  divided the Assembly, losing narrowly with 23 votes to 21

children's commissioner vote 2009Pictured: The split of the States' vote over the creation of a Children's Commissioner role in 2009.

Those that voted ‘contre’ included included former and current Health Ministers Deputy Anne Pryke and Senator Andrew Green. A number of other current high-profile and front-bench polticians also did not support the proposal: Senator Paul Routier, Senator Philip Ozouf, Senator Alan Maclean, Deputy Eddie Noel, Senator Sarah Ferguson and Deputy Judy Martin.

Records show that Senator Gorst, who was not Chief Minister at the time but still a States member, was not present for the vote.

Deputy Monty Tadier, who voted in favour in 2009, told the Assembly yesterday that he was disappointed the opportunity had not been taken then, given that politicians of the time, “…knew child protection was an issue.”

Current States members will now be asked to consider and approve legislation shaping the responsibilities of the new Commissioner over the course of this year. 

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