France, Unicef to strengthen child protection system in Laos

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The government of France and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) have renewed their commitment to strengthen the child protection system in Laos with special focus on national and international adoptions.

According to a statement from the French Embassy in Laos, the commitment followed the reaching of a new agreement on related issues. The agreement was signed on Wednesday by the Ambassador of France, Ms Florence Jeanblanc-Risler, and the UNICEF Representative, Mr Octavian Bivol.

The aim of the agreement is to continue working together towards strengthening the child protection system in Laos with a focus on the development and implementation of a regulatory framework on national and international adoptions.

“This agreement highlights the commitment of the government of France to support the most vulnerable children in the country and adds to the remarkable work that the government and development partners like UNICEF are doing to ensure every child is protected and grows in a safe environment,” said Ms Jeanblanc-Risler.

Following a new grant, the total amount mobilised over the last five years stands at 74,000 euro. Thanks to this contribution, the Ministry of Justice, with support from UNICEF, conducted an assessment on child protection and adoption in Laos, according to the statement.

In addition, the funding contributed to developing a new Adoption Decree in alignment with international standards. The Decree was signed by the Prime Minister in June 2014.

Following the approval of the decree, Adoption Committees, consisting of members from justice, social welfare and health sectors, were set up at the national, provincial and district levels across the country to raise awareness about the new Decree. Training manuals were also developed and a trainer of trainers workshop was conducted and subsequently, trainings were held at subnational levels.

In this new collaboration phase, priority will be given to the development of an effective mechanism to enforce and monitor the implementation of the Adoption Decree, which will contribute to strengthening the child protection system in Laos.

“Strengthening the capacity of government staff as well as parasocial workers at the national, provincial, district and village levels for better case management is crucial, and the agreement we signed today will contribute to this. In addition, a district, provincial and national register for children without parental care will be established,” said Mr Bivol.

Moreover, the grant will help raise awareness about the Adoption Decree for both domestic and inter-country adoptions and create an enabling environment to pave the way for the ratification of The Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption. The Convention on the Rights of the Child states that every child has the right to grow up in a family environment, and to know and be cared for by her or his own family, whenever possible.

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