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School CP - December 2006

Corpun file 18737


Stabroek News, Georgetown, 27 December 2006


Guyanese should decide what parts of the CRC mandate are applicable to Guyana

Dear Editor,

Are Guyanese and our politicians being cleverly hoodwinked in plain sight on the corporal punishment issue by the Committee on the Rights Of the Child (CRC) and/or their advocates?

The complete failure of any of the CP-abolition advocates to respond to a single issue in the article 'Not Without Reason: the place of physical correction in the discipline of childrenEXTERNAL LINK: opens in new window' by Families First started to ring some alarm bells. The article is easily ten times more detailed than any others opposed to it, and should have provided effective material for disagreement.

Instead, the protagonists have since abandoned all attempts at scholarship, and depend more and more on anecdotal, personal and very subjective experiences to defend advocacy of the CRC-position on corporal punishment, but this hardly translates into the stuff that can inform social policy and law.

One of their number, Mr Michael Hackett, has, incredibly, publicly called for a ban on all opinions opposed to the CRC on CP.

We have witnessed this crisis of credibility in the CRC before. The deception begins, as Lionel Persaud politely points out in his illuminating viewpoint of June 10, 2004, with, "But what does the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child have to say on the matter of corporal punishment? It may be eye-opening to some that the Convention does not mention the term 'corporal punishment' at all. Article 28(2) which is used as the basis for the call to abolish corporal punishment in schools states:

'States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child's human dignity and in conformity with the present Convention.'"

It would appear that 'corporal punishment' is only the first shot across the bows by the CRC in this crisis of credibility. We should recognize with Kirby that good law, like good ethics, is based on good data/information, and the current preoccupation with the specific issue of corporal punishment may have distracted everyone from the bigger picture of the political context of the CRC ambitions.

Please read the attached article entitled 'False Promises: How the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child Undermines National Sovereignty, the Legitimate Role of Parents and the Well-Being of Children' by Dr Mark Hartwig - in particular his comments on the reasons why the CRC-regime is generally unacceptable to sovereign states. [...]

The article brings an excellent perspective to the discussion. Dr Hartwig offers that the provisions of the CRC are unacceptable because of the following five reasons:

(1) They allow excessive breadth of interpretation;
(2) They give the Committee on the Rights of the Child virtually unlimited jurisdiction;
(3) They give undue influence to special interests;
(4) They undermine the legitimate role of parents; and
(5) They advance policies that intrude on national sovereignty.

These are objective criteria we can use in assessing CP and any other issues the CRC raises. Perhaps we can now begin to focus on the 'real' issues. If the CRC will not address the technical evidence for the retention of CP, then this effort at objectivity firstly means a generous debate in considering if Dr Hartwig was right or not.

I cannot envisage the possibility of any Guyanese politician deferring to the CRC on any of the above five points.

It takes only a two-thirds majority in Parliament to effect constitutional change, putting effective shackles on the scale and impact of CRC ambitions in our beloved country. This unity is achievable.

We Guyanese will decide what parts of the CRC mandate are applicable to Guyana, not the CRC.

Yours faithfully
Roger Williams

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