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CRINMAIL Violence 40: Update from III World Congress
28 November 2008 - CRINMAIL Violence 40: Update from III World Congress
- From the Frontline: Shirin Aumeeruddy-Cziffra [interview]
To read this CRINMAIL online, go to: http://www.crin.org/email/crinmail_detail.asp?crinmailID=3016
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World Congress III closes on unfinished business [news]
[RIO DE JANEIRO, 28 November 2008] – The III World Congress Against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents closed this afternoon with an unfinished outcome document, but a passionate statement from the children and adolescents present at the congress.
Jaap Doek, Rapporteur for the Congress, who was due to present the outcome document explained progress that had been made on the document called the 'Rio de Janeiro Pact to Combat Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents'. He specified that the document was not a legally binding document, but a document developed by the participants of the conference.
The document is divided into a Preamble, a section on review of progress made and lessons learned, a declaration and a plan of action. The first three sections were finalised and adopted, but not the core of the document, which is the Plan of Action.
“We will have a very powerful and rich document,” he said. But “given all the schedules we are still working on some of the language and ideas to get into the plan of action. This is unfinished business,” Doek said.
This document was partly drafted during the congress, but also through the input from meetings and consultations that took place around the world prior to the congress and that involved civil society, governments and children. The report will remain open for comments and input for another 30 days.
Rashad from Barbados, who was speaking on behalf of the children and adolescents, said they were the children who had suffered from adult exploitation, but organised and united, they have gone from being victims to actors.
“However, it is not enough to just give us a voice but you MUST listen,” he said, “listen to our calls for urgent action, listen to our experiences and most importantly listen to our solutions.
“We the children of the world ask of ourselves and similarly of you to share presentations of the proceedings of this conference with your communities, your nations and regions to perpetuate this message further,” he continued.
Speaking earlier to CRIN, 15-year old Syllamabinty who had traveled from Guinea said that she was ready to go home and organise meetings with working children and tell them about messages she had heard here. To the participants, she recommended they do the same.
Asked whether she was tired from the hard work and travelling, she replied that 'no, everyone is here for us, the children, so it's OK, I have to do my job here and I don't want to complain”.
Read the full statement of the children here: http://www.crin.org/violence/search/closeup.asp?infoID=19112
The Draft Outcome document is available here: http://www.crin.org/docs/Rio_Pact_Draft.doc
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The protection of children from sexual exploitation must be placed in the broader context of the promotion and protection of all children’s rights, Bacre Ndiaye, Director, the Human Rights Council and Treaties Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told participants of the World Congress III against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
As an indication of the seriousness of the problem, a draft outcome document of the Congress says that the international community is “deeply concerned at the continuing high level of sexual exploitation of children” in countries in all regions of the world, particularly through the increased use of the Internet, other new technologies, and the increased mobility of perpetrators in travel and tourism.
The document further points out the “increased vulnerability of children to sexual exploitation resulting from a growth in poverty, social inequality, exclusion, environmental degradation, HIV and AIDS, situations of natural disaster, emergency and violence.”
The Congress, which runs from 25 to 28 November, aims to mobilise all countries to take action to protect the rights of children and adolescents, especially to protect them from all forms of sexual exploitation.
“Children are tired of being told they are the future. They want to see us fulfill our promises in the present, and enjoy their right to be protected from violence today,” says Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Independent Expert for the United Nations Secretary-General Study on Violence against Children.
Through its active participation in the Congress, OHCHR emphasises the importance of a human rights-based approach to combating sexual exploitation of children. A comprehensive approach to protect all the rights of the child is necessary in order to eradicate sexual exploitation of children.
United Nations human rights mechanisms, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, other human rights treaties and their monitoring bodies, and a number of special procedures under the Human Rights Council, play an important role in fighting child sexual exploitation.
OHCHR encourages all human rights mechanisms to devote consistent attention to issues of violence against children, including sexual exploitation. The Congress will provide further benchmarks for assessing the performance of governments in protecting children from sexual violence.
Three thousands representatives from over 150 countries are taking part in the Congress, among them 300 adolescent participants. The Congress is organised by the Government of Brazil in cooperation with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT), a global network of organisations and individuals, and the NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
CRIN information page on children and sexual exploitation
About the UN Study on Violence Against Children
From the Frontline: Shirin Aumeeruddy-Cziffra [interview]
Shirin Aumeeruddy-Cziffra is the Ombudsperson for Children for the Republic of Mauritius. She trained as a lawyer, has been a member of Parliament, Ambassador, worked with NGOs and is currently serving her second mandate as children's commissioner. She is 60, lives in Rosehill with her husband and has two grown up children.
The Republic of Mauritius is composed of several islands in the Indian Ocean and is officially part of Africa. It has a population of 1.2 million of which 350,000 are children.
The issue in child rights I feel merits more attention is the ordinary, everyday corporal punishment in families, schools. Certainly in my country and many others, more awareness is needed to understand that this is probably the most common form of violence against children and the root cause of other forms of violence and maltreatment.
My biggest achievement in my career has been as an ombudsperson to put child rights high on the social and political agenda. Nowadays nobody would make a policy without considering children's rights, if they do, I will remind them. Recently, for instance,the Finance Minister has been very positive in his policies and at budget time, he has made children priority. He ha allocated funds to education tackling absolute poverty, violence against women and has even provided funds for NGOs. Much of this was the result of our advocacy.
The one piece of advice I would give child rights advocates would be to persevere, it's a long struggle. I would say never ending, as there are new challenges all the time.
One good thing about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is that it is the only convention which is based on the idea that human beings needs love and care, and that this is something fundamental in the development of human beings. If the Convention was respected, the world would be a much happier place.
The worst thing? It's almost perfect isn't it?
I do think the Convention has really made a difference. We must remember that there was thirty years between the Declaration and the Convention, we cannot expect that once it's ratified it will immediately have effect everywhere, it is a long term process. But we can see that in every country there has been some progress.
One of the organisations I very much admire is UNICEF, but that is because we have been working together very well. This does not, of course, diminish the quality of work of everybody else. I am very much a UN person, I have always believed in the UN system, especially with regards to the human rights of women.
If I was not working in child rights, I would probably be working on women's rights, human rights in general in fact. I belong to many NGOs throughout Africa. Although now I think I have reached the end of my career, except that I am full of energy, probably even more now than before. Now that I have seen all the obstacles, I have not changed one ounce from my belief that human rights are fundamental.
When I was in politics in 1977 and a member of Parliament, my government passed amendments to an immigration and deportation act, removing the right of residence automatically of foreign husbands (not wives). Women had no right to live in Mauritius and marry a foreigner. I went before the human rights committee and won. I used the Optional Protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, together with a group of 20 women.
The best thing about my job is being independent, being able to say things without hesitation my job gives me that officially. Nobody can tell me what to do what to say or what not to do.
The worse thing about my job is the amount of pressure, there is a lot of work, far too many violations. Every day, there are new cases, we do investigations, but we could do with more resources.
If I was not answering these questions... maybe I would be at the sea side.
My role in this Congress is to preside the dialogue of ombudspersons, our role here is to make sure that people understand that ombudspersons have the mandate locally of monitoring children's right and human rights generally.
My expectations for the Congress are that we will go further than just the usual engagement on paper. Commitments must go further than: 'we will do this, we will do that', in fact there should be a monitoring mechanism set up, otherwise it will be like many other conferences, with fantastic outcome document.
My perfect job in child rights would be a job working at international level.
If I had to sum up children’s rights in one word, it is the foundation of a better society, basically it's a better world.
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