Statement by Ms. Shiruzimath Sameer, Representative of the Maldives Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly 69th Session,
Intervention on the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion
Thank you, Madam Chair.
The Maldives is pleased to have this opportunity to respond to the Special Rapporteur Mr. Frank La Rue's briefing today, on this important issue: the rights of children to express themselves freely. We thank the Special Rapporteur for his invaluable work on this subject area.
As the Special Rapporteur has explained in his report, children need to be free to express their opinions, as an essential part of their social development. The Maldives sees the value in protecting the civil and political rights of children – after all, the children of today will become the active citizens of tomorrow.
We assure the Special Rapporteur that the Maldives guarantees the right of freedom of expression for all citizens, young and old, as enshrined in our constitution, and ensure that they are enforced in accordance with our obligations under international human rights law. All Maldivian children are provided with access to education, and the educational policies and school syllabuses have been formulated in a manner that encourages them to ask questions in the process of learning, and requires them to engage in active discussions in the classrooms. Activities are conducted in schools to enhance their ability to express themselves such as debates and speeches on a variety of topics. In addition to the measures taken by the Government to encourage freedom of expression in the education system, we also recognise the important role that parents should play to enhance this right.
I would like to ask the Special Rapporteur about the role of the Government in influencing parental attitudes and restrictions on children. We are making some progress in engaging with parents in this area; the Maldives has worked with UNICEF on a successful project to raise parental awareness of the value of listening to children.
Our question is, how can governments enhance parental engagement in shaping public policy on critical issues, such as the balance between child protection and child rights in using the internet as a platform of expression?