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Cabinet has approved the appointment of retired Magistrate Coroner and Attorney-at-Law, Faith Marshall-Harris, as a consultant to guide the reform of children and family law in Barbados.
This announcement has come from Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, who said the consultancy would be for a period of seven months and its cost would be borne by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Minister Lashey explained that Mrs. Marshall-Harris’ terms of reference would include reviewing and having discussions on current national legislation, policies, development plans, procedures and provisions of related regulations on family and children’s issues in relation to international standards and best practice.
In addition, he stated that she would provide a written report on the findings and make recommendations to Government, supported by documentary evidence highlighting the areas that required modification.
According to the Minister, a Green Paper would eventually be prepared outlining specific issues relating to the required reform of the legislation and possible courses of action. He added that a White Paper would eventually follow.
Underscoring the importance of the examination of the legislation, Mr. Lashley pointed out that "some people at the local and international levels have expressed the view that Barbados’ family law is in dire need of modernisation and harmonisation".
He noted that many discussions had been held on the critical gaps in existing legislation pertaining to children and families and several attempts had been made by various groups, primarily the National Advisory Council on Family Matters and the Family Law Council, to address the divergence and deficiencies.
UNICEF is looking forward to this review. In its Multi-Country Programme Action Plan 2012-2016, UNICEF indicated that by 2016 children in four Caribbean countries would be better protected "as a result of duty bearer’s awareness of new or revised laws, policies, [and] standards for the protection of girls and boys from harm, violence and discrimination".