PM Roosevelt Skerrit to present family bills in Parliament on April 25

Prime Minister Dr Roosevelt Skerrit announced that the government of Dominica will convene parliament on April 25, 2023 at 10 am and shared the update on the bills during his press conference on Friday.

PM Roosevelt Skerrit to present family bills in Parliament on April 25
PM Roosevelt Skerrit to present family bills in Parliament on April 25

Roseau, Dominica: Prime Minister Dr Roosevelt Skerrit announced that the government of Dominica will convene parliament on April 25, 2023 at 10 am and shared the update on the bills during his press conference on Friday. He said that the House of Assembly will feature the presentation of the family bills which seek to improve the circumstances of women, children and the elderly.

Outlining the purpose of the bills, PM Roosevelt Skerrit added that the bills will offer greater protection, care, and support to women, children, and elderly people. A number of laws will be passed in the parliament which includes the provisions of equal status for children. He said that with these laws, all discriminatory provisions in the law relating to a child born out of wedlock will be removed.

He said, “The measure will ensure that all children have equal status under the law regardless of the marital status of their parents. Importantly it also addresses matters of succession and inheritance which means that every child in Dominica in so far as the treatment by the parents and the treatment and recognition of the law and in terms of inheritance any parent would deny without a will that every child will be treated equally under the law.”

Talking about other bills, PM Skerrit added that an action for a law relating to the maintenance of children will also be produced to confirm the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The law will seek to improve on the existing provisions related to the obligations of both parents to maintain a child, the specifics of the maintenance order, the duration in of the order, and the method of payment among other related matters.

On the maintenance of the child, PM Roosevelt Skerrit asserted that the issue of child maintenance is always current and a matter of great importance especially for single parents and children in the communities who are placed at great disadvantage when one parent shooks his or her responsibility to provide timely and adequate financial support for a minor child.

He outlined that the bill will regularize these situations and provide the children with security and protection. The government will also introduce a bill for an act relating to the maintenance of spouses and parents. The act makes provision for these two groups in society who may be left vulnerable and unprotected under the law. He continued that it provides for the reasonable maintenance of spouses after cohabitation has ended, meaning after the relationship has ended or dissolved.

“The act also addresses the care and support of parents and grandparents who are in need of maintenance by reason of age, physical or mental infirmity or disability, ”said the prime minister.

“Against the background of devastating incidents of domestic violence late last year. We will see the introduction of a bill for an act to provide greater protection for victims of domestic violence and for the granting of protection orders to promote their safety,” said the prime minister while enclosing another bill for domestic violence.

PM Roosevelt Skerrit said that there’s also a bill for an act to provide the care and protection of children. As relates especially to adoption services. This bill is of great significance to society. As they will help them to ensure that the rights and responsibilities of family members are protected in any situation and that they are treated fairly and equitably under the laws in Dominica.

He noted that there are five separate laws that will be taken to parliament, all for the welfare and wellbeing of the citizens, especially the vulnerable, the children, and domestic violence cases.

He announced that the cabinet approved in advance of the passage of this legislation has approved a new structure for the social services department for a more effective and efficient administration of welfare matters relating to the care of children, women, the elderly, and other vulnerable groups. PM PM Skerrit said that the welfare division will operate within this new structure with an increased staff complement. The newly structured department will also provide support for family which should go before Parliament on Tuesday to ensure they are properly implemented and monitored for effectiveness.

He said that the increased budget just for salaries, for this new structure, will be close to $400, 000 per annum. In addition to the existing budget for the welfare department and all departments of the government, a sub unit of the criminal investigations unit of the police force will be created to focus solely on reports of child abuse and domestic violence in Dominica and those officers will be provided with proper training so that they are more responsive to those calls for an investigation and ensure that investigations are successful and resources of place for investigations.

“But again the welfare of a child cannot be relied only upon by the state by the government and domestic violence will not end only by the passage of laws and the provision of resources. It’s going to require the involvement of the entire community. These are societal challenges and societal challenges require societal responses. It’s not road patching. It’s about human beings and the role that society can play in ensuring that we eliminate the instances of injustices against our children and the presence and the prevalence of domestic violence in our society, ”noted PM Skerrit while asking for support of the society.

In respect to electoral reform, PM Skerrit wish to assure the people that he remains committed to the passage of the necessary legislation in parliament to modernize Dominica’s electoral system. While expressing disappointment, he said that as of April twenty-one, 2023, he had not received the final set of proposals to advance to the public and ultimately the parliament of Dominica. This is by no means criticism of the efforts of Dennis Byron, but more of a commentary on the challenges besetting us in a post-covid environment and the backdrop of the tremendous consultations and research that go into the preparation of the needed report and subsequent recommendations.

Talking about the recent symposium, he asserted that as a matter of fact, he took the opportunity on the margins of the recent symposium in Trinidad. To update CARICOM heads on their effort regards to the modernization of the electoral process and also seeking the further involvement of the CARICOM secretariat. In an effort of advancing the electoral reform process in Dominica.