Child Care Amendment Bill & Prevention And Treatment Of Drug Dependency Amendment Bill: discussion

Social Development

28 February 1999
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

WELFARE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

WELFARE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
1 March 1999
CHILD CARE AMENDMENT BILL AND PREVENTION AND TREATMENT OF DRUG DEPENDENCY AMENDMENT BILL: DISCUSSION

Documentation handed out
Child Care Amendment Bill [available fom http://www.polity.org.za/govdocs/bills/1999/index.html]
Letter from Child Welfare Society
Letter from S.A National Council for Child & Family Welfare
Prevention and Treatment of Drug Dependency Amendment Bill [available from http://www.polity.org.za/govdocs/bills/1999/index.html]

SUMMARY
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss clause by clause the amendments of two bills, the Child Care Amendment Bill and the Prevention and Treatment of Drug Dependency Amendment Bill. Law advisors and department officials were present to discuss the concerns and answer questions raised by the members of the committee. By the conclusion of the meeting, both bills had been examined with an emphasis on clarification of definitions and wording of the documents. There will be one more session on Wednesday to complete the process.

Advisors and departmental officials present:
Legal advisors – Mike Mosutha and Pierre Du Preez
Advisor to the Minister and IMC Project Manager Ms. Lesley du Toit
Deputy Director of Substance Abuse – Pierre Viviers
Member of the Drug Advisory Board – Rev. T.J. Fredericks
State Law Advisors – Merman Smuts, Gideon Moon

MINUTES
The Chairperson, Mr Saloojee, informed the committee that the Welfare Budget Vote would be held on March 19th and on that same day the three Bills will also be dealt with; namely Child Care Amendment, Probation Services Amendment and Prevention and Treatment of Drug Dependency Amendment Bills. The Chairperson also requested the Party Leaders to meet and discuss how many speakers wished to present on the 19th. Mr Schippers, a new NNP member, was welcomed to the committee.

The Chairperson stated the urgency to finish the bills. In this meeting he hoped the committee would complete examining the Child Care Amendment Bill and the Prevention and Treatment of Drug Dependency Amendment Bill clause by clause. The department officials, advisors, and other experts were introduced to the committee. He recommended that there would be one more session on Wednesday where the process would be completed.

Child Care Amendment Bill
The committee proceeded to examine the Child Care Amendment Bill first. There were many questions and concerns raised about the definition in Section 1 a) of "commercial sexual exploitation". A discussion focused on whether the definition should include trafficking, pornography, and prostitution. The legal advisors cautioned on adding concepts that were not defined because it could create further loopholes. Other concerns were raised with the term "sexual act". Should it be defined and how would it be interpreted by social workers if it was not defined? It was pointed out that the Home Affairs Department was bringing out legislation on child pornography and child trafficking, so there would be legislation that covers these areas.

After a long discussion the Chairperson asked the advisor to the Minister what the urgency of this Bill was if there was other legislation coming out. Her response was that there was presently no reference to sexual exploitation in any present legislation and there needed to be. Also, South Africa signed the UN Convention on sexual exploitation of children and we are under obligation to the international body to take some action on this issue or we will come under increasing amount of pressure.

The Chairperson, after hearing the discussion, summarised the committee’s concerns and suggested the Department would need to further examine the terms and definitions of "commercial sexual exploitation".

Section 1 b) was examined and there was considerable discussion around the definition of "secure care". Some of the committee members were confused about the meaning of a "secure care facility". Ms. Du Toit tried to clarify the meaning and stated it is not a building but rather a program where children are contained because they are dangerous to themselves and/or others. The reason for defining "secure care" in this legislation is it legitimises programs and institutions, gives the Minister control to designate institutions, and gives programmatic opportunity to children who need help. Further concerns were raised about Section 28A and the wording "establish". The members were concerned that the "secure care" would mix children awaiting trial, with children who are in need of protection for behavioral and emotional problems. At present members feel this is a major problem in South Africa. Questions were asked about Section 34 of Act 74 of 1983, which relates to the administrative powers of the Minister to move a child from one institution to another. The committee members felt there was little common understanding of this clause and that it was awkward and confusing in its wording. The advisor to the Minister explained that this amendment was reducing the power of the Minister because if a child was to be removed from an institution and placed in another institution it would have to go back to court and it could not just be an administrative transfer. She stated that Project Go has a moratorium on transferring and this legislation supports this. The members felt knowledge of other current legislation was needed and that if the average person read this they would not have that background.

At this point after much discussion on the Child Care Amendment Act around the terms, "Commercial sexual exploitation", " secure care" and the powers of the Minister, the Chairperson adjourned for a forty-five minute lunch. He recommended a discussion group of members and officials be established over lunch to resolve so they could come back prepared to move on.

Final Agreement on issues discussed were as follows:
1.That law advisors would further examine the term "commercial sexual exploitation".
2. In the definition of "secure care", "residential facility" would be removed from the definition, so as not to confuse that it is a reform school.
3. Distinctions would be made in 28A.
4. It was pointed out that the Memorandum on the Objects of the Child Care Amendment Bill provided enough clarity in explaining Section 34.
5. No agreement was reached on the discussion related to Section 16A.

The Chairperson re-emphasised that during the next meeting the process would need to be completed, so if there were any further discussions he encouraged members to complete them over the phone.

The Prevention and Treatment of Drug Dependency Amendment Bill
Next, the Prevention and Treatment of Drug Dependency Amendment Bill was examined clause by clause. The Members moved through this Bill much more quickly then the previous Bill. The Chairperson at the beginning raised the issue that the committee had not been involved as fully as they should in this legislation and stated that the committee is part of the process. There was no comment from advisors.

Some of the questions and concerns the members raised focused mainly on Section 2 of Act 20 of 1992 and the creation of the Central Drug Authority. One of the concerns related to Section 2 o). How would the call for nominations of the 12 other members be provided to the public? The Department stated that an advertising campaign would be made. The committee requested an inclusion that they be involved in the recommendations and have a chance to interview possible candidates. The Department official stated that the committee’s request would be considered. Questions were asked regarding Section 3 a); who would terminate the office of a member and the ambiguity of "good reasons for doing so." The Department agreed to add "by the Minister" and in other legislation the phrase " to be just and fair" was used and understood in law terms, so this would be used instead of for "good reasons".

The next meeting would be held on Wednesday, 3 March 1999.

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