The first Phoenix Forum of 2008 brought together
stakeholders from the medical community and children's rights organisations
to discuss the rights of child burn survivors.
Lois Law of the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office
described international agreements on the rights of children as they
pertain to child burn survivors. She pointed out that the lack of protection
against avoidable accidents kills 10 children a day in South Africa, with burns
being a leading cause of death and devastating injury.
Ms Law noted that "burn survivors seem to fall through the
cracks when it comes to the question of defining criteria" for support and that
presents a difficulty in the accessing of health and social services and
other supportive services."
Ms Law noted a number of measures that should be taken to
ensure that children's right to a safe environment is respected and upheld.
programmes, coupled to policy and advocacy initiatives at various levels.
Mira Dutschke of the Children's Institute at the University
of Cape Town presented a rights-based framework to address the multifaceted
challenges facing child burn survivors. This approach provides a rigorous
method to identify rights violations in terms of internationally accepted
children's rights and national statutory obligations to safeguard various
Ms Dutschke showed how South African Constitution underpins the rights of
children in South Africa
and how it places a responsibility on the various duty bearers to
ensure that these rights are not violated. In the first instance the parent
or caregiver is the duty bearer with primary responsibility for the child,
but where this person is unable to fulfil that responsibility, the State is
responsible to ensure that the child's rights are not violated. This is a
responsibility that affects all government Departments, she said. She
illustrated this point with a case study of a child burnt at home while in
the care of a teenage sibling. She analysed the causes and results of the
incident in terms of rights violations and identified the relevant duty
bearer Departments. She concluded that this rights-based approach would be
a powerful way to raise awareness of the issue across government.