OMBUDSPERSONS FOR CHILDREN: First Ibero-American network created

[LIMA, 22 November 2007] - The first Ibero-American network of ombudspersons for children was created at a meeting this week in Lima, Peru. Eleven ombudspersons from Central and South American countries attended the meeting, as well as one representative from Spain.

The meeting, which brought together regional ombudspersons for children for the first time, aimed to promote information sharing about their mandate and efforts to promote, protect and monitor child rights in their country; learn from the experience of the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC); and create an Ibero-American Network of ombudspersons for children. The network is part of the Ibero-American Federation of Ombudspersons (FIO), which includes Latin American countries, Spain, Portugal and Andorra.

Peruvian ombudsperson Beatriz Merino, who hosted the event, urged participants to strengthen their efforts in building a fairer society that recognises children as rights holders.

She explained the need for a regional network to respond to the common problems affecting children and young people in the region, particularly discrimination, exploitation and abuse.

Ulla Armyr, from Save the Children Sweden’s regional office, welcomed Uruguay’s new law banning all corporal punishment of children. Other ombudspersons are pushing for similar laws in their countries. They agreed, however, that laws are not enough, and underscored the importance of raising awareness and ensuring that laws are implemented.

Delegates expressed deep concern over the widespread violence against children in all countries in the region, including physical and sexual violence, as well as humiliating treatment. They welcomed the UN Study on Violence against Children as a strong tool to combat this problem, saying that its recommendations must be acted on and that a Special Representative on Violence against Children* would be key to making this happen.

Other areas of cooperation will be to strengthen children’s participation and the effective implementation of Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to improve knowledge of how ombudspersons can work more closely with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the inter-American system of human rights.

A declaration establishing the network and its Secretariat will be made available shortly. The Secretariat will be made up of ombudspersons for children from several countries; its main function will be to decide upon a work plan for the network.

The event was promoted and hosted by the Peruvian Ombudsperson’s Office. UNICEF and Save the Children Sweden supported the initiative and participated in the meeting.

Participants included: Griselda Sillerita (Bolivia), María Cristina Hurtado (Colombia, Kathia Rodríguez (Costa Rica), Rosario Utreras (Ecuador), Luis Enrique Salazar (El Salvador), Nidia Aguilar (Guatemala), Bettina Hernández (Honduras), Norma Moreno (Nicaragua), Sagrario López (Panama), Carla Crosa (Paraguay) and Jorge Valencia (Peru).

[Sources: Peruvian Ombudsperson’s Office/ Save the Children Sweden – Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean]

*The post of Special Representative on Violence against Children had not been established at the time of the meeting, but was created by a UN General Assembly resolution passed on Tuesday, 27th November, by a vote of 176-1. Read more here.

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