The Law Society of Hong Kong's President Stephen Hung in his letter to members highlighted the Children's Issues Forum of which the Law Society has been a major sponsor and co-organiser.
Stephen Hung said
The Third Children's Issues Forum ("the Forum") was successfully held on 13 and 14 November and was well attended by fellow practitioners... The highlights of the Forum were the discussions on the long awaited law reform in dealing with children on divorce for Hong Kong and the keynote speech by the Hon Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma.
As noted by Stephen Hung, Mr Matthew Cheung the Secretary for Labour and Welfare noted that the Children's Bill will be released by the end of November, the Law Society "supports the introduction of the concept of 'parental responsibility'".
Friday, 13 November saw the start of the Third Children’s Issues Forum. After more than a year of planning, it seems amazing that we were ready to welcome more than 40 speakers from around the world and from different professions and sectors of civil society. We, the organising committee enjoyed two days of stimulating presentations and the opportunity to exchange ideas and questions about the issues affecting children in Hong Kong and globally and how law can respond to those issues.
At the same time, we are also happy to announce that a selection of essays based on the presentations and papers from the second Forum are now available. The essays are collected in two volumes. The focus of the first volume is on the substantive law relating to the child-parent relationship in terms of custody and access and on procedural frameworks adopted around the world to resolve disputes arising between parents in relation to their children.
Some of the essays analyse the paradigm shift that has occurred in post-divorce child law based on notions of custody, care and control to that based on “parental responsibility” in diverse jurisdictions such as England, Hong Kong, New Zealand, China and Europe whilst others focus on the procedural framework within which disputes relating to parenting and care of children post-divorce may be resolved, with particular focus on the development of specialized children’s dispute resolution procedures in various jurisdictions. The Volume concludes by looking at the pressing need for greater empirical research and collection of data to allow for better evidence-based and informed policy making in the family justice and child law area.
The essays in Volume 2 provide insights on child abuse and child sex trafficking in Hong Kong and internationally and focus on the incidence and prevention of child abuse and child sex trafficking and the need for effective child advocacy and protection, whilst highlighting the urgent need for more empirical research, quantitative data and a coordinated multi-disciplinary approach to preventing and treating child abuse.
The consequences of emotional abuse of children in high conflict separation and parental alienation cases are examined, with examples of best practices achieved through legislative and institutional change and collaboration between child welfare professionals and agencies. Lastly, some essays look at parental responsibilities, empowering children and effective child advocacy. The inappropriateness of a “parental rights based” discourse is discussed, stressing the need for new paradigm for parent child relationships reframed as “parental responsibilities”. Allowing children to express themselves and to directly participate in proceedings involving them is discussed by examining the development of a peer mediation scheme in Hong Kong and the need for an adequately resourced Children’s Commissioner to protect and promote the rights, interests and well-being of children in Hong Kong.
International Perspectives on Disputes About Children and Child Protection: Vol. 1 Collected Essays on Parental Responsibility and Children’s Dispute Resolution; Volume 2 Collected Essays on Preventing Abuse, Parental Responsibilities and Empowering Children, eds. Katherine Lynch & Anne Scully-Hill, (2015) CU Press.
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CIF Voices is a collaborative effort amongst multi-disciplinary professionals working with children's issues around the world. Views presented are those of individual contributors and not the Children's Issues Forum.