Last edited: May 2005
Summary and Analysis
The Bahamas ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. The country has a government unit – the National Child Abuse Prevention Initiative – committed to protecting children from abuse and neglect. The Initiative summarizes the Convention on the Rights of the Child, telling children that under Article 12, “Whenever adults make a decision that will affect you in any way, you have the right to give your opinion, and you have a right to be taken seriously.”
The child protection system in the Bahamas is defined by the Children and Young Persons (Administration of Justice) Act, which establishes the offense of cruelty to a child and gives the state authority to respond when children are ill-treated or neglected. The Juvenile Court is directed to consider the welfare of the child in child protection proceedings, but the statute does not specifically mention the child's participation or representation. We were unable to contact anyone in the Bahamas to ascertain how protective proceedings operate in practice.
However, when a court is considering an adoption application under the Adoption Act, it must consider the child's wishes, taking into account the child's age and level of understanding, and must appoint a guardian ad litem for each child who is the subject of an adoption application.
Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)
CHILDREN AND YOUNG PERSONS (ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE) ACT, 1947 (as amended 1987)
§67 Welfare of the Child
Every court in dealing with a child or young person who is brought before it either as an ill-treated or neglected child or young person or as an offender or otherwise, shall have regard to the welfare of the child or young person and shall in a proper case take steps for removing him from undesirable surroundings, and for securing that proper provision is made for his education and training.
ADOPTION OF CHILDREN ACT, 1954 (as amended 1987)
§8 Child's Wishes
The court before making an adoption order shall be satisfied -- . . . (b) that the order if made will be for the welfare of the infant, due consideration being for this purpose given to the wishes of the infant, having regard to the age and understanding of the infant; . . . .
§18(1) Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem
For the purpose of an application under this Act 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.
Additional Resources and Links
Bahamas Initial Report of State Party, U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/8/Add.50 (January 28, 2004)
National Child Abuse Prevention Initiative: http://www.bahamas.gov.bs/bahamasweb2/home.nsf/vContentW/6A9C15A8D90DFB1A85256FAC0062A5A0
 See the initiative's website at http://www.bahamas.gov.bs/bahamasweb2/home.nsf/vContent W/3EDB379D79531E4885256FA900542D79
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