NGO group for the CRC Sub-group on the Commission on Human Rights Summary of interventions related to children’s rights during the 1st week of the CHR and the High-level segment Monday, 14th of March 2005
The Chairman Makarim Wibisono (Indonesia) opened the session by mentioning the Tsunami. More generally, many problems such as destruction, violence and terrorist acts affected directly and indirectly fundamental human rights; foremost, the right to life. Therefore, he underlined the importance of a genuine international cooperation among States. He called upon all States to improve health and education, to fight discrimination, and to promote human rights education. No speaker of this opening morning session referred to children’s issues. The representative of the Republic of Korea, which represents Asiatic countries, the representative of Egypt and the representative of China denounced that certain NGOs abuse of their role. The representative of Egypt suggested the need to have a guide of good practise for NGOs. The first speaker of the afternoon was Mr. Jean Asselborn, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg, speaking on behalf of the European Union, of the acceding countries, of candidate countries and potential countries to the European Union. He said that EU supports the implementation of human rights and struggles especially against torture. The EU welcomes the worldwide trend towards abolition of capital punishment, therefore he calls upon all countries to abolish the death penalty. As other EU priority, he mentioned the support to the work of the International Criminal Court, which can be considered as a main means of putting an end to impunity and preventing crimes against humanity. At the end, he reminded children are the first victims of violence and that we have to act in children’s best interest. Mr. Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin, Minister of Justice of Sudan, said that over the 2004 his country adopted 6 protocols in order to have a democratic State. These protocols foresee protection of human rights, among which the children’s rights. He talked about Darfur situation saying that there are many meeting to resolve it. Ms. Micheline Calmy-Rey, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, affirmed the women and girls’ rights are a priority for Switzerland, which condemns any trafficking in human beings, as well as sexual exploitation of any human being. Mr. Karel de Gucht, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium, agreed with the Prime Minister of Luxembourg about abolition of capital punishment and death penalty, protection of women and children’s rights and the role of International Criminal Court. Ms. María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, Deputy Prime Minister of Spain emphasized Spain’s engagements by signing the Optional Protocol against Torture and by adopting a new law against violence against women. The last speaker, Mr. Renaud Muselier, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of France, affirmed that France supports the abolition of the death penalty and condemns human beings trade and sexual exploitation. No other speaker mention children’s rights. The representative of Austria was absent.
Tuesday, the 15th of March 2005
Mr. Erkki Tuomioja, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland, made no mention of child rights. Mr. Vartan Oskanian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, made no mention of child rights. Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, noted that the OIC has formed a coalition to rescue child victims of the December 26, 2004, tsunami. The coalition is trying to keep orphans under its care and protection. Mr. Hamady Ould Meimou, Human Rights Commissioner of Mauritania, stated that they are committed to a process of economic, social, and cultural improvements; including the protection of women and children. Primary education is now compulsory from ages 6-14. Ms. Amat Al-Aleem Alsoswa, Minister of Human Rights of Yemen, underlined that 30,000 children participated in the election of the children’s parliament and that human rights education is being introduced at all levels of education. Mr. Kastriot Islami, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Albania, said that children are the future of their society. Therefore, they are trying to adopt laws in accordance to the CRC. The system of child protection is being improved and consolidated. Albania has identified the most important children’s rights. They are currently voting on the Optional Protocols to the CRC. Children are also being used in the process of identifying problems and fixing them. It was said that the most efficient way to create a stable society is through children. Dr. Dimitrij Rupel, Minster of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, Chairman in Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, highlights that the OSCE is undertaking in groundbreaking work in the protection of children during and after armed conflict. Ms. Patricia Olamendi, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, stated that Mexico implores other countries not to apply the death penalty to minors. Dr. N. Hassan Wirajuda, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, mentioned that some 1,200 students from Timor-Leste are now studying in Indonesian Universities with the help of scholarships and other special arrangements. Dr. Bernard Bot, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, implored parents, teachers, and politicians to shoulder the great responsibility and to ensure that their young people do not become involved in religious extremism. Dr. Bot also called for an end to FGM and that we must not shy away from topics that are considered “cultural”, but rather we must address them. Mr. George Iacovou, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, made no mention of children’s rights. Dr. Alcinda Abreu, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Mozambique, stated that Mozambique is trying to ensure primary education, as well as technical education. Efforts have been redoubled in the fight against endemic diseases and to promote good mothering skills.
Ms. Belela Herrera, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, noted that there will be legislation concerning children with the new government and that children will be a priority. At the national level, all practices and legislation will be adapted to the rules and regulations of the CRC and the Optional Protocols will also be adopted into law. They are seeking creative solutions to children in detention. Mr. Borys Tarasyuk, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, called for the development of educational programs to combat hate, genocide, discrimination, and racism. Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, stated that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has for many years been engaged in recruiting children for armed combat. Even though the LTTE had agreed to halt the recruitment of children; they have continued to do so. Against this background, Sri Lanka has supported the recommendations of the recent report of the Secretary-General submitted to the Security Council to be implemented against those who fail to cease the practice of recruiting child combatants. Sri Lanka is of the view that enforcement of these measures on a gradual scale will have a persuasive impact on all of those who continue to deliberately violate the rights of children affected by armed conflict. Mr. Kassymzhomart Tokaev, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, highlighted that the protection of motherhood and childhood and issues related to them are a high priority for the government. A number of programs have been instated and a number of laws have been passed. Mr. Mohamed Bouzoubaa, Minister of Justice of Morocco, underlined the reorganization of the juvenile justice system, the revision of the penal code to establish gender equality and the protection of women and children against violence and sexual exploitation, the incrimination of sexual harassment and the mistreatment of children, as well as the removal of the obligation of professional secrecy, concerning doctors and other relevant professionals, in situations of abuse committed against children, women, and the disabled, the prohibition of child labour. With regards to the new Code on Family Law, the inequity of women has ended and children’s interests are kept in sight. Equality now exists between spouses in regards to the rights, obligations, and responsibilities involved within the family. Dr. D. Horacio Daniel Rosatti, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Argentina, noted Argentina’s continuation to investigate the fate of disappeared children, their compensation to children born during the detention or disappearance of their parents, their ratification of the CRC’s Optional Protocols, their moving towards considering children as entities with rights, a draft law for juveniles, trying to abolish life sentences for minors, and a draft law to punish those who access child pornography via the Internet. Most of afternoon’s speakers talked about women and young girls who are first victims of violence and consequently they raised their concern about their traffic. Mr. Ramesh Nath Pandey, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, speaking about the status of human rights in his country, drew the attention of the last nine year during which violence and indiscriminate terrorist atrocities perpetrated by the insurgents: this situation, obviously, have been affecting the basic human rights. Over the last nine year, about 11,000 people have lost their live, many more have been rendered homeless, thousand orphaned. Young girls, minors and children have been forcefully recruited as child soldier. These young children are deprived from their basic human rights, as the right of education, the basic right of care, the basic right to their own future. In order to stop these atrocities and to rescue the nation, the King of Nepal had to declare the State of Emergency considering the fact that promotion and protection of all human rights and
fundamental freedom always have been essential values for building a democratic and safety nation. Furthermore, he said that this year, in May, the Committee of Children’s Rights will examine their report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Ms. Laila Freivalds, Minister Foreign Affairs of Sweden, stated of the importance on prevention for the protection of human rights. She talked about women and young girls who are the first victims of violence all over the world. She strongly affirmed that no granting of amnesties or impunity for crimes against humanity and war crimes including those relating to sexual violence must be done. She kept saying that trafficking of human beings is increasing and that the majority of the victims of it are women and girls. She urged to focus not only on the perpetrators and victims of these crimes, but also on the root causes of trafficking. To conclude, she drew the attention on children, saying that the rights to be heard and listened to must be extended also to children. Besides, children around the world affected by armed conflicts are the most vulnerable group of victims and often they can not fend for their rights. It is the duty of everybody to protect stronger or more urgent. Ms. Brigditte Mabandla, Minister of Justice of South Africa, encouraged to struggle the traffic of human beings. Women and children are the first victims of this crime and she congratulated to the Government of Sweden to have brought this issue to the attention of the international community during this session of the Commission. She said that on the 20th of February 2004, South Africa ratified the Protocol to Prevent and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially women and Children. Ms. Jadranka Kosar, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Croatia, mentioned the traffic of human beings. Traffic in persons is defined as a criminal offence by Croatia Criminal Code, which was amended. Furthermore, the Juvenile Courts Law provide a legal framework for the protection of victims of trafficking in persons. She added that a new working group with an aim to elaborate a special plan concerning trafficking in children was established. In addition to this, she said that Croatia has presented its periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and that her government is already working on the implementation of the issued recommendations. She also mentioned that the Public Prosecutor’s Office has issued an instruction concerning the protection of the child’s privacy based on the mentioned recommendations. She highlighted their concerns about the violence against children and among children and that they have begun to prepare the draft of the First report concerning the Optional Protocol on the sale of the children, child prostitution and child pornography. At last, she said that the Ministry for Family concluded with UNICEF the Co-operation Agreement on Implementation of the Activities for Prevention of the violence among children. The aim is to provide a safe environment for children in primary and secondary school. Ms. Margherita Boniver, Deputy for Foreign Affairs of Italy, mentioned the trade of women and girls underlining that her country aims to combat all forms of abuse and exploitation against individuals and that its actions aims also the recovery and rehabilitation of victims. Ms. Monique Ilboudo, Minister for Promotion of Human Rights of Burkina Faso, affirmed the need to support the youth. She referred to forced marriage and girls’ mutilation which are punished by law. Also, they are preparing an code for the protection of children’s rights to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The representative of Brazil, Mr. Nilmário Miranda, Minister, Special Secretary for Human Rights did not expressively talk about violence and trafficking on women and children but he stated that the government of Brazil support families and invested for the protection of children’s rights
more than 20.000 dollars in education, in eradication of children’s labour and in sexual exploitation. Ms. Nizar Obaid Madami, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, did not mention children’s rights.
Wednesday, the 16th of March 2005
W.E. Ms Marie-Madeleine Kalala, Minsiter for Human Rights of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, talked about the dramatic situation and scandal concerning the sexual exploitation of women and children in the RDC and ads that it is necessary to give an answer to the claims of the victims of the sexual crimes. She mentioned very briefly the Child Soldiers program of the RDC. H.E. Mr Pavel Svoboda, Deputy-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, underlines that their thematic priorities include an equal enjoyment of economic, social, cultural rights, the protection of minorities and the fight against discrimination. He ads that special attention is also paid to the rights of women and children. As to the protection of children in armed conflicts, the Czech Republic contributes to the implementation of the Action Plan of the European Union to that end. Hon. Mr. Kiraitu Murungi, Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs of Kenya, stated that the government has commenced on preparation of reports under various international human rights instruments. They have recently submitted a report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child. H.E. Mrs. Carmen Liliana Burlacu, Director-General for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Council of Europe and Human Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania, says to be proud of the progress achieved concerning national minorities and children’s rights as well as the combat against trafficking in human beings. She added that Romania implemented the propositions made by the Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography who visited Romania in 2004. H.E. Reaz Rahman, Advisor (State Minister) for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, noted that since July 2002, they have introduced an education stipend for children of poor, for study at the primary level. He added that health outcomes in term of lowering infant and maternal mortality rates, immunisation, nutrition access to reproductive healthcare are among the best of the region. Women are also given a privileged position in their society. H.E. Mr. Petko Draganov, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, reiterated the importance of the full and adequate implementation of the Convention of the rights of the child provisions. Last year, the Bulgarian National Assembly adopted a National Action Plan against the sexual exploitation of children. The State Agency for Child Protection is supervising the implementation of the Action Plans in all its specific aspects. H.E. Muhammad Wasi Zafar, Minister of Law, Justice and Human Rights of Pakistan, points out that the National Commission o Child Welfare and Development ensures the fulfilment of our obligations as signatory to the convention on the Rights of the Child. Wednesday, 16th afternoon session A number of child-related issues were touched upon during this three hour long 7th meeting, at which speakers were allotted 15 minutes each. The points focusing on children’s rights concerned three areas. First, the most common concern was the trafficking of women and girls. Many countries spoke of this problem and the actions taken to eradicate this problem. A second theme mentioned by many speakers was the importance of education. A wide variety of ways of improving education were mentioned. Third, the combat against involuntary recruitment of children by illegal armed
groups, was also an important concern for a number of countries. This is a slightly more detailed account of the the major points made by those speakers who touched upon children rights issues . The first speaker was Ms. Maria Pilar Hernadez, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affaris of Venezuela. In her statement, she stressed the importance of education in general for the population. She also briefly described actions undertaken by the Venezuelan government to improve reading abilities of children and adults. This programme, denoted "Robinson", is estimated to have improved the literary skills of 1,5 million people. The next speaker, Mr. P.T.C Skelemani, Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration of Botswana, emphasized the children's right to education and health. He mentioned the "Mother to child transmission programme" which had been organized in order to prevent infectious diseases like HIV to spread from the mother to the baby. Ms. Marta Altolaguirre, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, explained that the demilitarisation of Guatemala has made it possible to start schools buildings formerly belonging to the military. She also emphasized the battle against the trafficking of women and girls. Dr. Jorge Hernandez Alcerro, Minister of Governance and Justice of Honduras, brought up the problem of violence and civil insecurity in Honduras. He mentioned that the government has set up an "Investigation Unit of Death of Minors", with the task of arresting and transmitting people suspected of violence against children to prosecutors’ offices. Due to the creating of this unit, he explained, many such crimes have been solved and the perpetrators been brought to justice. The government has also taken action to prevent children from joining illegal armed gangs, and to help them to leave such gangs. The government also claims to be aware of the problems caused by the sex-tourism and works hard to put an end to this phenomenon. Mr. Itsunori Onodera, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Japan, emphasized his government’s efforts of providing assistance to children affected by the tsunami. The "Child Support Plan for Tsunami Victims" program helps with finances (up to $500 million of grant money), knowledge and human resources. Japan has also recently ratified two Optional Protocols on the Convention of the Rights of the Child and has adopted a number of measures to combat trafficking in persons. Mr. Hans Winkler, Deputy Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Austria, acknowledged the issue of trafficking and explained that the Austrian government has set up a task force for victim's protection and legal support. On behalf of the Austrian government, he welcomed the decision to appoint a Special Rapporteur on this issue. The last speaker of the meeting, Dr.Fransisco Santos, Vice-President of Colombia, highlighted the forced recruitment of children to armed gangs. He was concerned about the risk of sexual exploitation of young girls by these gangs. To prevent this, the government has increased the number of law enforcement bodies.
The following speakers were present at the meeting but spoke little, if at all, of child right-related issues: - Mr. Jakob Kellenberger, President of the International Comitee of the Red Cross
- Mr. Dao Viet Trung, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs of Vietnam - Mr. Felipe Pérez Roque, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba - Mr. Alhaji Abukakar Tanko, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, - Mr. Bill Rammell MP, Minister for International Human Rights of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland