Reforms for the protection of children and youth in Mexico

Last Friday was the opening of the “City for Childhood” in Guadalajara. The City for Childhood is a government institution of new creation in the State of Jalisco with the purpose of answering all related needs for the protection of rights of Children and Youth.

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Recently (end of 2014), new legislation was passed in Mexico for the protection of rights of children and youth. The new legislation basically puts together all state legislations and any institution (from all sectors) that provides a service for them so that everyone operates under the same rules, protects the same rights and can be held legally accountable for not following these dispositions. UNICEF provided technical assistance to the Mexican government creating several recommendations on the type of actions and reforms that needed to be done.

The route for the implementation of the new legislation started from the publication of the new law at the end of December 2014, continued with the necessary changes in local and federal, laws and their proper internal regulations, the installment of the national system for the protection of children and youth, as well as specific requisites for assistance centers. Later in 2015 states had to install local and municipal systems and specialized areas had to be created for the cross-sectoral effectiveness of the protection of children and youth among institutions.

Another important aspect of the recent reforms is that the law forces institutions to include youth in any reform or matter that concerns them, giving them a right to be heard and be taken into account. So, basically the argument is that they should be entitled to promote, guarantee and protect their rights, according to their age, cognitive development and maturity. It will be interesting to see how these last aspects apply in practice. One of the main reasons for this reform was that in the past even though Mexico obviously had to follow the convention of the child and human rights, etc. the law didn´t actually hold accountable a specific institution or authority in the case of the violation of children´s and youth rights.

In the state of Jalisco for example, it was under decree 25455 that the State Congress published on September 2015, the necessary reforms for seven different laws in order to adapt to the new federal law. One of the necessary adaptations was the creation Child Protective Services.  This office is dependent of an Institution called DIF (Integral Family Development) and after the creation of this new institution the local government eliminated a previous one called “Family Council”, which wasn´t well regulated in fact and it created a type of bottle neck when it came to issues related to children and youth. Now that the Child Protective Services was created it took over its previous obligations and added many more.

What´s innovative about “The City for Childhood” is that the state decided to put together in one single building literally, all services that children and youth could need during the defense of their rights.

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On the 1st floor you can find protection and attention to children and youth along with specialists in forensic science, on the 2nd floor it’s the investigation unit for crimes committed against youth as well as human rights matters, on the 3rd floor matters related to health and education, on the 6th floor protection of rights, psychology and geneticists, UNICEF is on the 7th floor as well as Child Protective Services, previously mentioned and representatives of NGO´s that work for children and youth, on the 8th floor there is a room for events as well as the state office for the prevention of violence and on the 10th floor the head of the organization and the head of Child Protective Services.

I´m not sure how all of this is going to play out but it´s certainly a great step towards the protection and defense of the rights of children and youth. Simply the fact that the Family Council was closed so that we could have Child Protective Services is a great change and it moves us forward towards a more efficient procedure of justice. I just hope that after the couple of years left of our former President, whoever follows will continue with this effort.

For more information see http://www.leyderechosinfancia.mx/

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