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Antigua and Barbuda[1] [print]

Last edited: May 2005

 

 

Summary and Analysis

 

In 2003, Antigua and Barbuda passed the Childcare and Protection Act, which defined abuse and neglect, established the Childcare and Protection Agency, and set forth procedures for investigation of abuse and neglect allegations and remedial measures including removal and placement of a child. 

 

The Childcare and Protection Act and the Adoption Act[2] provide that the child's wishes shall be taken into consideration, with due consideration to the child's age and level of understanding.  However, there is no explicit provision describing how the child shall participate or express her views.  There is no provision for the appointment of an attorney for the child in any child protection proceedings, but the Adoption Act mandates the appointment of a guardian ad litem in adoption proceedings.[3]

 

We were unable to locate any local practitioners to confirm our research or give us information about how child protection operates in practice.  Antigua and Barbuda acknowledged in its Initial Report under the Convention on the Rights of the Child that children's views may not be respected in the Caribbean culture, but that there is growing awareness of children's rights.[4]

 

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

 

Statutes

 

CHILDCARE AND PROTECTION ACT, 2003[5]

§25(1)  Welfare of the Child Paramount

In determining any matter relating to – (a) the upbringing of a child; or (b) the administration of a child's property or income, the person who has authority to determine the matter shall ensure that the welfare of the child is paramount.

 

§26  Criteria for Decisions

In determining any question relating to the circumstances provided for in section 25, the person who has authority to determine the question shall have regard in particular to – (a) the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned, in the light of the child's age and capacity to understand the matter to be determined . . . .

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Adoption of Children Act  §4 (1944) (as codified in1992) (“The Court before making an adoption order shall be satisfied - . . . (b) that the order if made will be for the welfare of the infant [person under the age of eighteen years], having regard to the age and understanding of the infant . . . .”), available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[3]Adoption of Children Act  §9(4) (1944) (as codified in1992) (“For the purposes of any application under this Act and subject to any rules under this section, the Court shall appoint some person or body to act as guardian ad litem of the infant upon the hearing of the application with the duty of safeguarding the interests of the infant before the Court.), available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[4] Initial Report of States Parties, Antigua, ¶ 62, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/28/Add.22, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/125/Add.6 (December 9, 2003), available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf (The right of the child to be heard is clearly a fundamental right that is guaranteed in the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda.  Whether or not the views of children are respected is often deeply embedded in cultural norms that set the standards for what is considered appropriate behaviour for children.  Clearly, children in Antigua and Barbuda are given opportunities to air their views.  However, it would be remiss not to mention here that culturally, in the Caribbean, children (in this context, school-age children) do not generally feel free to air their opinions on many subjects in front of adults except when called upon specifically to do so.  But as discussed above, there is a growing awareness among our people that children should be given more opportunities to speak out on all issues.)

[5] Childcare and Protection Act, Act No. 29 of 2003, available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

 

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