The Equality Rights Group made its concern known to the Gibraltar Government last month about having to ‘chase them’ to focus attention on both children’s rights and domestic violence.
The ERG has requested information in writing to see where Gibraltar stands on the adoption of two important pieces of international legislation into Gibraltar law.
The first item is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in November 1989 and ratified by 20 countries in September 1990. While Britain ratified the Convention in 1991, 25 years later, Gibraltar has still not adopted this Convention.
“This is an inexcusable time delay on our part here in Gibraltar,” a ERG spokesman said.
The pressure group spokesman said that, although Minister for Justice Gilbert Licudi has usually attended its requests, over a year has gone by without any updates.
“The Minister first advised us over a year ago of processes which were being undergone for Gibraltar’s adoption of this legislation safeguarding the rights of children, but we are concerned to have received no further update on progress since then,” the spokesman said. “We are particularly concerned because there are strong research indicators pointing to a correlation between early child experience of physical abuse and later manifestation of domestic violence. The research in that regard is getting stronger.”
The group has also asked for information on whether Gibraltar is considering, or is en route to adopting the Council of Europe’s ‘Convention On Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence’.
“We hope that we will not be as backward in adopting these measures as we have been on the rights of the child,” the spokesman said. “The ERG fully supports Claire Borrell and the Women in Need organisation in their many concerns regarding the increasing incidence of domestic violence in Gibraltar. It is a worrying situation, and it is equally clear that a holistic approach to better handling these issues is necessary.
The ERG said that, for its part, it will continue to press for adequate compliance and early adoption of international and other legislative measures.
“This is necessary in providing the formal backbone frameworks required to support the logistical and community-based responses that are needed,” the spokesman said.
Minister Licudi replied on behalf of the government citing that he has already responded to Mr Alvarez’s request for an update on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, pointing out that the government ‘awaits the UK’s extension of the Convention to Gibraltar’.
“However, the ERG and the public can be assured that all necessary laws and policies are already in place in Gibraltar in order to comply with treaty obligations,” a government spokesman said. “As far as Gibraltar is concerned, all the necessary steps have been taken at our end in order for the Convention to be extended to us.”
The spokesman said that the Government is taking a multi-agency approach in order to develop strategies to combat domestic abuse.
“There has also been significant investment in the holistic training of Care Agency staff to support victims of domestic abuse and also to work with perpetrators to help prevent future incidents,” the spokesman said. “This work is in parallel with the spirit of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention).”
The government is, however, already working in parallel with UK by actively adopting strategies and implementing policies that combat domestic abuse.
“It should also be noted that the Istanbul Convention has not yet been ratified by the UK,” the spokesman said.