The right to belong to a family

Family is the most important unit of every society because it’s where people find love, protection and belonging. There are many types of families but a child is only said to belong to one if he/she has parents or guardians.

Family is the most important unit of every society because it’s where people find love, protection and belonging. There are many types of families but a child is only said to belong to one if he/she has parents or guardians.

For this reason, article 15 paragraph one of Law N°54/2011 of 14/12/2011, relating to the rights and the protection of the child statuses, “A child has right to know his/her parents, to stay with them and to be protected by them when they are alive.”

Whether or not the parents of a newborn child are married, their names are recorded in the register of births and other documents relating to the population. This is because one’s marital status does not exempt one from looking after one’s child.

Ideally, a child has a right to live with both parents. However, sometimes there are circumstances that dictate otherwise. For example, one of the parents could be working far away from home, or the parents could be divorced.

In case of such circumstances, article 15 paragraph three of the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child says that a child “has the right to obtain from them necessary care and to visit them whenever he/she wishes to, provided this doesn’t threaten his/her security or the public order.”

If a child’s parents are divorced or separated, and that child is under the age of six, he/she is left under his/her mother’s care, unless such an arrangement threatens the child’s interests. This is according to article 15 paragraph four of the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child.

Article 24 paragraph one of the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child reemphasizes children’s right to a family. The reason behind the statute is that family is where a child can live, grow, develop, be protected and have the affection that is necessary for his/her full development.

Thus, article 24 paragraph two of the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child says that a child who is temporarily deprived of his/her birth family is entitled to replacement protection. This comprises placement in “placement in a foster family, an adoptive family or a placement in a relevant social welfare institution.”

While the child waits for placement, the relevant authority is responsible for providing means of survival.

Children are not expected to only be on the receiving end in their families. According to article 255 paragraph two of the law governing persons and family, “The child must honour his/her parents, respect them and cater for them if they are in need.”

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