Representative of SG on IDPs, Special Rapporteur on disability address commission
Commission Concludes General Debate on Rights Of Children, Starts Discussion on Specific Groups and Individuals
(Reissued as received.)
GENEVA, 7 April (UN Information Service) -- The Commission on Human Rights this afternoon started its consideration of its agenda item on specific groups and individuals, including migrant workers, minorities, mass exoduses and displaced persons and other vulnerable groups and individuals. The Representative of the Secretary-General on internally displaced persons and the Special Rapporteur on disability of the Commission for Social Development addressed the Commission.
Francis Deng, the Representative of the Secretary-General on internally displaced persons, said that unequivocally, the international community had made remarkable progress in responding to the global challenge of internal displacement. However, the numbers of internally displaced persons remained as large as ever -- 25 million last year. Some 3 million people were able to return to their areas of origin, for example, in Angola, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and parts of Indonesia. However, an equal number were newly displaced, most of them in Africa, including in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Sudan, Uganda, but also elsewhere, notably in Colombia, Myanmar and the Aceh region in Indonesia, all desperately needing protection and assistance. Clearly, there was still work to be done. He also talked about his missions to the Russian Federation and Uganda.
The Russian Federation and Uganda spoke as concerned countries. Ireland, Canada and Switzerland participated in the inter-active dialogue with the Representative. Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan praised the work of Mr. Deng. A Representative of Egypt also presented a general statement.
Hessa Khalifa bin-Ahmed al-Thani, the Special Rapporteur on disability of the Commission for Social Development, said that the past ten years had seen steady progress in dealing with disability as a human rights issue. The Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities - -- adopted by the General Assembly in 1993 - -- had served as an authoritative guide for Member States in implementing disability programming and developing national plans and policies to ensure that persons with disabilities were brought from the margins of society into the mainstream of the economic, social, cultural, civil and political lives of their communities.
Also this afternoon, the Commission concluded its general debate on the rights of children after hearing statements from national delegations and a long list of non-governmental organizations whose representatives spoke about violations of children's rights, including trafficking and sexual exploitation and recruitment of minors in conflicts, among others.
The International Federation Terre des Hommes said the failure of Governments to agree on exactly what constituted trafficking, and their corresponding failure to agree on standard ways of measuring the extent of the problem, exacerbated the anguish caused to children caught up in trafficking networks. The United Nations needed a high-level, independent advocate to monitor and respond to widespread abuses linked to trafficking, the organization said.
The Friends World Committee for Consultation said that to counter the problem of the recruitment of children into fighting forces, it was necessary to address the key underlying factors of war, poverty, education, employment and the family. These provided a framework for policy and programme planning without which no initiative was likely to have a sustained effect.
The Organization for Defending Victims of Violence said twenty armed conflicts were under way around the world on each given day, most of them in poorer countries, and there were around a million child soldiers in the world, many of them under ten years of age.
Speaking on children's rights were Representatives of Viet Nam, Thailand, Iran, Algeria, Myanmar, Cameroon, Colombia and Senegal.
The following NGOs also delivered statements: International Save the Children Alliance speaking on behalf of several NGOs (Joint statement on behalf of: International Save the Children Alliance; International Council of Women; International Alliance of Women; International Federation of Social Workers; International Catholic Child Bureau; Covenant House; Defence For Children International; and Plan International); Federation of Cuban Women speaking on behalf of Women's International Democratic Federation and Organization for the Solidarity of the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America; Centro de Estudios Europeos, speaking on behalf of National Union of Jurists of Cuba; World Organization against Torture; International Federation Terre des Hommes; General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; Friends World Committee for Consultation; International Movement for Fraternal Union among Races and Peoples; Human Rights Advocates; Jubilee Campaign; Comite international pour le respect et l'application de la charte africaine des droits de l'homme et des peuples; Organization for Defending Victims of Violence; World Federation of Democratic Youth; World Vision International; Permanent Assembly for Human Rights; Anti-Slavery International; Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance; All-China Women's Federation; International Institute for Peace; Latin American Federation of Associations of Relatives of Disappeared Detainees; World Young Women's Christian Association; B'nai B'rith International; Union Nationale de la Femme Tunisienne;International Union of Socialist Youth; Center for Economic and Social Rights; Interfaith International; A Woman's Voice International; Liberal International; Defence For Children International; Research Centre for Feminist Action; Association of World Citizens; and International Humanist and Ethical Union.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea spoke in a right of reply.
The Commission will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Thursday, 8 April, for meetings that will run without a break through 6 p.m. during which it will continue with its debate on its agenda item on specific groups and individuals including migrant workers, minorities, mass exoduses and displaced persons, and other vulnerable groups and individuals.
Documents on Specific Groups and Individuals
As the Commission on Human Rights begins its consideration of the rights of specific groups and individuals, it has before it a note by the Secretary-General on violence against women migrant workers (E/CN.4/2004/71), which draws attention to the Secretary-General's report to the General Assembly on that subject (A/58/161) and which provides information on measures taken by Member States and activities undertaken by the United Nations system and other intergovernmental organizations in that area, as well as recommendations for future action. The Commission's attention is also drawn to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants (E/CN.4/2004/76 and addenda).
There is also a note by the secretariat on missing persons in connection with armed conflict (E/CN.4/2004/72), which states that the report requested by the Commission in its resolution 2002/60 on the implementation of that resolution is under preparation, and information is being sought from Governments, competent United Nations bodies, specialized agencies, regional intergovernmental organizations and international humanitarian organizations. The report will be submitted at the Commission's sixty-first session.
There is also a report of the Secretary-General on the status of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and efforts made by the Secretariat to promote the Convention (E/CN.4/2004/73), which states that the Convention entered into force on 1 July 2003, following the deposit of the twentieth instrument of ratification on 14 March 2003. As of 15 December 2003, the Convention has been ratified or acceded to by 24 States, namely: Azerbaijan, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, Philippines, Senegal, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Uganda and Uruguay. An additional nine States have signed the Convention, namely: Bangladesh, Chile, Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Paraguay, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Togo and Turkey.
There is also a report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on progress in the implementation of the recommendations contained in the study on the human rights of persons with disabilities (E/CN.4/2004/74), which provides several examples of the progress made by different stakeholders in implementing the recommendations addressed to them by the study on human rights and disability, "Human Rights and Disability: the current use and future potential of United Nations human rights instruments in the context of disability". However, the report also notes that the study was published only in November 2002, and stakeholders are just now becoming familiar with the analysis and recommendations it contains. Any evaluation of the extent to which States have translated its recommendations into practice can only be preliminary and an assessment of the actual impact of the study on the work carried out by treaty bodies will only become possible in years to come.
There is also a report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities (E/CN.4/2004/75), which provides information in conformity with the request contained in Commission resolution 2003/50 to examine existing mechanisms to promote and protect the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, with a view to enhancing their cooperation and effectiveness and to identify possible gaps. The report pays particular attention to the work of the Working Group on minorities, human rights treaty bodies and special procedures established within the system of the Commission on Human Rights and the mandate of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. It reviews the proposals made at the Working Group aimed at strengthening or creating mechanisms for the better protection of the rights of persons belonging to minorities, including the establishment of a Special Rapporteur or Special Representative of the Secretary-General, the creation of a voluntary fund, and the proclamation of an international year.
There is also a report on mass exoduses and displaced persons (E/CN.4/2004/77), submitted by the Representative of the Secretary-General on internally displaced persons, Francis M. Deng, which focuses on the activities of the Representative of the Secretary-General since his last report to the Commission. The report contains an overview of what the Representative has tried to do in discharging his responsibilities over the years and reflects on the challenges he sees ahead for the mandate. The challenge to affected States, the international community and the mandate of the Representative is to combat pessimism and complacency. In this report, the Representative documents progress towards meeting this challenge during the past year. He concludes that the international community has come a long way in developing the international response to the global crisis of internal displacement, from initially shying away from the issue as too sensitive on the grounds of national sovereignty, to developing normative and institutional responses, to engaging constructively on the principles and strategies for protecting and assisting internally displaced persons, and now to facing the challenge of making these achievements more effective and comprehensive.
The first Addendum concerns the Special Representative's mission to Uganda, which was instrumental in raising international awareness about the tragic situation of more than 1.4 million internally displaced persons in the north of the country. The Representative welcomes the initiative by the Government to develop a national policy on internal displacement and looks forward to its adoption and implementation in early 2004. However, it is also clear that a stronger national and international involvement is needed to ensure the most minimum protection of and assistance to the internally displaced. In particular, the Government is urged to ensure the physical protection of the displaced hosted in camps, who remain vulnerable to rebel attacks and abductions, as well as to provide adequate protection and assistance to the so-called "night-commuters", approximately 25,000 persons -- mostly children -- who came to sleep in the urban centres in the north out of fear of attacks and abduction by armed rebel groups.
The second Addendum, "Profiles in displacement: the Russian Federation", concerns the visit of the Representative of the Secretary-General to the Russian Federation. The objective of the visit was to study and reach a better understanding of the situation of internal displacement in the Russian Federation, in particular with regard to the North Caucasus, and to have a dialogue with relevant partners with a view to ensuring effective responses to internal displacement. At the end of his visit, the Representative made seven main recommendations, and the report reiterates these. In addition to this, the Representative urges the Government to take into consideration the concerns expressed by the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and to ensure that the human rights of the displaced, as well as those of the returnees, are respected and that perpetrators of human rights violations are held accountable and brought to justice.
The third Addendum concerns the plans for the official visit of the Representative of the Secretary-General to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Following consultations, the mission had been fixed for a date which would preclude a report being submitted at the sixtieth session. An oral report will therefore be provided, and a written report submitted at the sixty-first session.
The fourth Addendum concerns the Conference on Internal Displacement in the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Sub-region - Experts Meeting on Internal Displacement. The meeting was the preparatory part of the Conference, and its purposes were to a: review the causes, circumstances, consequences and trends of internal displacement in the IGAD sub-region; discuss the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and their application to the problems involved; promote strengthened policies, laws, and institutions at the national level to deal with internal displacement; and explore the role that IGAD might play in promoting strengthened national and regional responses to the problem of displacement. The report sets out in summary form the substance of the discussions at the experts meeting. The recommendations of the experts were formally approved at the end of their meeting, and then transmitted to the IGAD Ministerial Conference, at which meeting the ministers adopted the experts' recommendations and issued the "Khartoum Declaration on Internally Displaced Persons in the IGAD sub-region".
There is also a report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery (E/CN.4/2004/78), which supplements and updates the report submitted to the General Assembly of 22 August 2003 (A/58/306). It contains the recommendation of the eighth session of the Board of Trustees of the Fund, including the list of project and travel grants recommended, the new guidelines adopted by the Board at that session and relevant statistics on the amount of applications received and approved as well as on contributions received.
The Addendum to the report contains the recommendations adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Fund during its ninth session, held in Geneva from 26 to 30 January 2004 and which concern the financial status of the Fund, the review by the Board of the reports by beneficiaries on previous grants paid from 1999 to 2003, new travel and project grants for 2004 and the Board's needs assessment for 2005.
Statements on Internally Displaced Persons
FRANCIS DENG, Representative of the Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons, introducing his report, said that unequivocally, the international community had made remarkable progress in responding to the global challenge of internal displacement. That was a ground for optimism, but one should also be realistic; and realism revealed the other side of the story. The numbers remained as large as ever. Last year, the number of internally displaced persons remained at 25 million. While some 3 million people were able to return to their areas of origin, for example, in Angola, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina and parts of Indonesia, an equal number were newly displaced, most of them in Africa, including in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Sudan and Uganda, but also elsewhere, notably Colombia, Myanmar and the Aceh region in Indonesia, all desperately needing protection and assistance. Clearly, there was still work to be done.
Mr. Deng said that in August 2003, he undertook a mission to Uganda that included consultations in Kampala. He also travelled to districts in the north where more than 1.4 million persons were internally displaced. There was clearly an urgent need to enhance the minimum protection and assistance needs of the internally displaced. In particular, the Government needed to ensure the physical protection of the displaced in camps, where they remained exposed to attacks and abductions by rebel forces. Most compelling was the situation of the thousands of so-called "night-commuters", mostly children, who travelled at night to sleep in urban centres in order to avoid being abducted. The Government had taken the initiative to work on a comprehensive national policy on internal displacement.
In September 2003, Mr. Deng said that he visited the Russian Federation and had undertaken field visits to Ingushetia and Chechnya. The mission focused on issues of voluntary return of internally displaced persons as well as adequate humanitarian assistance and protection to returnees in Chechnya. During the mission, he had constructive talks on those issues with the authorities both in Moscow and in the North Caucasus. He was pleased with the positive statements by the Government about the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and affirmations of respect for the right to voluntary return of the displaced, as well as the need to provide adequate alternative housing in Ingushetia and elsewhere for those who did not wish to return. There was also a need to ensure the protection of the returnees in Chechnya and of the human rights and humanitarian workers seeking to assist them.
In conclusion, the Representative said that although the crisis of internal displacement remained daunting, the international community appeared resolved, and was certainly better equipped, to respond commensurately. With the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement now in place, the collaborative approach agreed upon as the appropriate institutional framework for response, and a sound ground established for sustained dialogues with Governments and other actors, the challenge was to be effective and comprehensive on the ground, where the needs of displaced populations for protection and assistance were real and pressing. What should be avoided was complacency and pessimism.
ANDREY LANCHIKOV (Russian Federation), speaking as a concerned country, said the position of the Russian Federation on the issue had been set forth on a number of occasions and was well known. The conclusions and recommendations of the Representative would be taken into consideration by the Government of the Russian Federation.
NATHAN IRUMBA (Uganda), speaking as a concerned country, said the Representative of the Secretary-General on internally displaced persons had visited Uganda, during which time he had met and held discussions with senior Government officials. He had also visited some of the affected districts where he witnessed for himself the situation of internally displaced persons. Uganda would like to thank the Representative for the objective manner in which he had recorded his findings. Regarding some of his conclusions and recommendations, Uganda had the following comments to make: regarding the appointment of a third party mediator to bring Government and the Lord's Resistance Army together in peace talks, the Government had always encouraged such initiatives and interventions, but no responses had been received from the Lord's Resistance Army as of now; the final and most durable solution to the issue of the internally displaced persons was of course the end of the Lord Resistance Army's terrorist insurgency and substantial progress had been made; through its intensified operations the Uganda People's Defence Forces had saved a large number of kidnapped children and it had returned them to their families or the local authorities. Finally, the Government of Uganda was ready to continue the dialogue which had started with Dr. Deng through visits or exchange of information on the unfortunate situation of the internally displaced persons. The Secretary-General was also appealed to use his good offices to mobilize resources for rehabilitation of the war-ravaged districts in northern Uganda.
EAMONN NOONAN (Ireland) said once again, the magnitude of the problem was grave, and much remained to be done. In his report, the Representative had referred to an emerging international consensus on efforts to make the collaborative approach work, and asked what gaps remained and what concrete steps should be taken to achieve an effective international response to the crisis of internally displaced persons. Further, was he satisfied with the level of awareness among those responsible for internally displaced persons of normative standards for their protection, and what steps could be taken to make the displaced persons aware of their rights. Also, one of the pillars of the Special Rapporteur's mandate was research, and what future did he see for this pillar.
MARIE-JOSEE DESMARAIS (Canada) said while some headway had been made, it was clear that meeting the protection needs of internally displaced persons remained a pre-eminent concern, and asked whether the work of the United Nations was improving the protection of this group.
JEAN-DANIEL VIGNY (Switzerland) said it would be of interest to know what was the impact of the integration of the set guidelines on the ground, and how the Special Rapporteur intended to support these. What were the difficulties encountered by the Special Rapporteur when visiting countries, and what could be done to improve the coverage, the speaker asked, and what steps could be taken to cover the follow-up of the recommendations of the Representative.
FRANCIS DENG, Representative of the Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons, responding to the questions posed during the inter-active dialogue, said that with respect to the gaps that had been witnessed within the collaborative approach, there had certainly been much work to identify what those gaps were and how they could be redressed. The major gap identified had to do with protection of the internally displaced, as many involved in the debate on protection saw this as a particularly sensitive issue and had been loath to engage Governments in a discussion of the phenomenon. However, the issue had recently been adopted as an aspect of the work of the Emergency Relief Coordinator and some strong recommendations had been put forward on how to bridge that gap.
Concerning the Guiding Principles, he said they had been accepted and that institutional arrangements had been put in place. It was now time to undertake a discussion of how to make the collaborative system work through the Resident Coordinators. Moreover, a great deal had been accomplished in disseminating the guiding principles and a number of Governments had been seen to change their legislation in conformity with them. As for the issue of their binding nature, he felt that as long as they were based on international law, the question of whether or not they were binding was secondary. The primary importance was to make them authoritative.
On root causes, he said that displacement was a symptom of more structural problems, which was why he always ended his reports by proposing that problems of displacement be used to address roots causes within each country. Moreover, there was a link between protection and the provision of humanitarian aid to internally displaced people; Governments could not just say, "Feed my people, but don't protect them". Finally, on how to follow-up recommendations made on country visits, there should be close cooperation with regional coordinators and country teams and follow-up visits to countries.
BERTRAND RAMCHARAN, Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights, said as Dr. Deng completed his mandate, he wished to join his voice to those who had paid tribute to him. For 12 years, he had been the Ombudsperson for the displaced. He had contributed outstandingly to raising global awareness of the crisis which now affected millions worldwide. His crowning achievements were the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, which were based on international humanitarian and refugee law, and provided a comprehensive framework for the protection and assistance to internally displaced persons. These had been recognized as a tool and standard for addressing the issues of the internally displaced, and had been widely embraced by many organizations, both within and outside the United Nations system. In the context of his missions, as a true envoy of the displaced, the Special Rapporteur had been instrumental in creating a voice for them, and all were now working jointly to ensure an effective implementation of the collaborative approach as advanced by him.
Statement by Special Rapporteur on Disability
HESSA KHALIFA BIN AHMED AL-THANI, Special Rapporteur on disability of the Commission on Sustainable Development, said that the past ten years had seen steady progress in dealing with disability as a human rights issue and that evolution had led to an increased activity within the United Nations system, as well as by Governments and civil society, to promote the rights of persons with disabilities in law and policy. The Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities -- adopted by the General Assembly in 1993 -- had served as an authoritative guide for Member States in implementing disability programming and developing national plans and policies to ensure that persons with disabilities were brought from the margins of society into the mainstream of the economic, social, cultural, civil and political lives of their communities.
Reviewing her activities since her appointment to the position of Special Rapporteur, she said that it had been extremely useful to meet with United Nations agencies, Governments and organizations of persons with disabilities to learn about their work and to seek their views and ideas on how best to move forward to promote the Standard Rules, and the human rights of persons with disabilities in general. It was widely agreed that the application of the principles expressed in the Standard Rules over the last decade had contributed greatly to the diffusion of best practices on equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities, but that their widespread application had also led to the identification of gaps and limitations in their scope of action. Among the areas that had not been sufficiently developed in the Standard Rules were: fundamental concepts; adequate standard of living and poverty alleviation; housing, including the issue of residential institutions; health and medical care; emergency situations; access to the social environment; communication issues; personnel training; gender; children with disabilities and the family; violence and abuse; older persons; developmental and psychiatric disabilities; invisible disabilities; and suggested further initiatives in national policy and legislation.
The General Assembly had, in 2001, she noted, initiated a process of discussing the adoption of a Convention on the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. The former Special Rapporteur had affirmed that the development of a new treaty should not overshadow the need to mainstream disability into the monitoring activities of existing human rights bodies and mechanisms, as called for by the Commission on Human Rights in resolution 2000/51. The elaboration of a new convention and the integration of disability into the work of existing human rights mechanisms should be seen as complementary approaches. Together with continued efforts to address the social development dimension of the problems faced by persons with disabilities, this constituted the so-called multi-track approach, which had received broad support in the international community.
Statement on Specific Groups and Individuals
HANY SELIM LABIB (Egypt) said his Government attached great importance to all aspects of human rights, particularly those of migrant workers. A study had shown that the contribution of migrant workers was very useful to the recipient countries. The interest of the migrant workers was closely linked to those of the hosting societies. The recipient countries would benefit from those peoples when the rights of the migrant workers were guaranteed and ensured. Among the most vulnerable segments of migrant workers were domestic workers. The dignities and rights of the domestic workers should be respected and even enhanced. He called upon the Commission to strengthen the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. In order to ensure that migrant workers contributed to the development programmes of the hosting countries, their dignity and rights should be ensured. The international community should also emphasize the humanitarian aspect of migrants.
Statements on Rights of Child
TRUONG TRIEU DUONG (Viet Nam) said children continued to be victims of domestic violence, sexual exploitation, human trafficking and armed conflict. The international community's conscience could not allow such situations to persist. Voicing commitment was not enough. It was important to translate commitment into concrete action at the national and international levels to ensure children's enjoyment of their rights worldwide. Viet Nam had always attached great importance to the promotion and protection of the rights of the child, not only because of its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but also because of its firm belief that the future of the country depended upon its children.
Achievements in economic and social development had enabled the Government to devote more resources to children. Following great success in reaching the goals set forth in the National Programme of Action for Children 1991-2000, Viet Nam had launched a second programme for 2001-2010 aimed at fulfilling unaccomplished goals and striving to achieve new goals for early-childhood educational development, improvement in the quality of primary and secondary education, creation of opportunities for children's participation and their healthy development, and prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Viet Nam was one of the few countries that had achieved the goals set forth at the World Summit on Children, but much remained to be done.
OPAT VAROPHAT (Thailand) said that after years of deliberation, Thailand's Child Protection Act had taken effect on 30 March of this year. Under that law, any child below the age of 18 was protected by the State. A draft Domestic Violence Elimination Act was now under consideration by the Government and pending public hearing. The Criminal Code provided for the protection of children from abuse, and relevant laws on rape provide harsher penalties if the victim was a child. Legislation had also been put in place to allow children under the age of 18 to testify on videotape in private surroundings in the presence of a psychologist or a social worker, with a judge's consent.
Thailand was working on a restorative justice system, beginning with the use of the family conferencing method. The aim was to address problems at their roots and to prevent further offences by correcting the contexts in which juvenile offenders found themselves. The Government was working seriously to address the problem of child victims of narcotic drugs and urban crimes committed by children. Children under 16 could not be put in prison for such crimes. Thailand attached great importance to the participation of children in decision-making affecting their interests and well being.
AFSANEH NADIPOUR (Iran) said children were most vulnerable to problems and had the fewest means of protecting themselves. Therefore a protective policy on children was the only justifiable approach for the protection and promotion of the rights of the child. Within the last decade, the international community had increasingly focused on the effective protection of the rights and well being of children, including through improvements in access to safe water, sanitation facilities, food, education and immunization. Despite these efforts, however, millions of children throughout the world continued to face poverty, hunger, sickness, displacement, armed conflict, violence, prostitution, exploitation and the very real possibility of being trafficked on a daily basis.
Child sexual exploitation was closely linked to other social problems such as poverty and social exclusion. The international society must not tolerate such unjust and unfavourable conditions. Eliminating violence against children, including trafficking, sex tourism and child pornography required international cooperation. For its part, Iran had vigorously pursued the effective realization of the objectives set forth in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and had directed a considerable portion of its annual budget to meeting its obligations under the Convention.
DALAI SOLTANI (Algeria) said of all international instruments related to human rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child was the one that had been most widely and rapidly ratified. However encouraging this might seem, such normative and institutional work seemed derisory when examined in the light of the tragedy lived every day by hundreds of millions of children throughout the world. The reports of the Special Rapporteurs showed that children continued to suffer, in resigned and painful silence, the sometimes destructive power of adults. The tragedy of all these children remained the most unbearable of injustices. Children, who were frequently the victims of poverty and suffered from it the most, ran the risk of feeling the physical and psychological results for the rest of their lives, and might never achieve their full potential. This was why the work already done needed to be deepened and widened.
Problems could only be completely eradicated if the rights of children, and more generally the rights of the person, could be inscribed in the context of the greatest global realization of the right to development. This was why the defence of the universal rights of the child should be a matter of solidarity expressed to the greatest possible extent. The child should be the perfect symbol of the solidarity which should exist between all peoples.
THA AUNG NYUN (Myanmar) said the Government gave top priority to the rights of the child as a matter of policy. Since its accession to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Myanmar had steadfastly implemented a series of national plans for the well being of children. A Child Law had been enacted; and a National Committee on the Rights of the Child had been formed in 1993. Despite the contentions in the report of the Special Rapporteur on children in armed conflict, there was neither a draft system nor forced conscription of children by the Government of Myanmar. A person could enlist in the armed forces only on attainment of the age of 18. Forced conscription in any form was strictly prohibited throughout the country. Myanmar had established domestic legislation under the Defence Services Act of 1947 to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers.
The Government had also instituted measures for close scrutiny and inspection to ensure that those recruited into military service fulfilled the voluntary nature of recruitment as well as the minimum age requirement and other qualifications. As a result of this process, a total of 473 military personnel in 2002, and another 237 in 2003, had been demobilized. In addition, those measures had resulted in a total of 1,766 applicants being refused entry into military service in 2003.
MICHEL MAHOUVE (Cameroon) said children were among the most vulnerable groups in society, and represented the future. They merited particular attention and protection. The adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Special Session on children showed greater worldwide awareness of the issue. There also had been the development of a global network of measures and instruments aimed at the protection of child rights. The persistence of poverty, bad socio-economic conditions in an increasingly globalized economy, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, natural catastrophes, illiteracy, hunger and armed conflict were the main evils hindering the rights of children.
Education was an important pillar, and, in Cameroon, despite a difficult economic situation, it held the key position in the fight against the vicious circle of ignorance, illiteracy, laziness and delinquency. Cameroon had achieved significant progress in the implementation of its international commitments in the field of human rights, but much remained to be done. There was a firm political will to realize socio-economic reforms that would allow greater investment in favour of children and youth. Contributions from the international community were necessary to reinforce these efforts.
CLEMENCIA FORERO UCROS (Colombia) said the situation of Colombian children was a cause of great concern. The State was doing its utmost through its social equity policy to reduce the risk to and vulnerability of children. The social, economic and cultural rights of children, as well as those of other sectors of the population, played a central role in the national development plan. It was imperative to distinguish between two kind of situations: those corresponding to specific circumstances and those related to structural conditions. Through programmes of prevention and through scrutiny of family violence, the Government was trying to prevent ill-treatment and to punish sex abuse. The Colombian Institute of Family Welfare took care of abandoned children and of those living on the streets.
Violence generated by illegal armed groups had deepened the vulnerability of Colombian children. Forced recruitment and abuse of children, including sexual abuse of girls, were a common practice, together with torture and other acts of barbarism. According to UNICEF, approximately 15,000 children had been recruited by force by illegal armed groups. These groups had gone to the extreme of using children as weapons of war. The Government used all means available to deal with such painful situations, with the valuable support of the international community, which contributed by offering valuable experience along with technical and financial resources.
FATOU ALAMINE LO (Senegal) said the Convention on the Rights of the Child had always been at the heart of the work of Senegal, and the Government had ratified many other international conventions and protocols. New laws had been adopted, integrating the Convention into the national Constitution. Senegal had chosen to demonstrate its commitment to the rights of the child, and had ensured the implementation at the national and community levels of a policy for the respect of the human rights of the child. It had also decided to create structures that would help children, providing, among other things, training and combating poverty.
Targeted interventions for vulnerable children in extreme poverty had also been implemented. In West Africa, children were confronted with many challenges affecting education, access to health and drinking water, and safety in situations such as armed conflicts. This last was a prime problem for children. It affected them in many different ways.
CASA ALIANZA, of International Save the Children Alliance, in a joint statement*, said the United Nations' study on violence against children was an important opportunity to bring about real and positive changes in the lives of girls and boys. It provided the opportunity to develop more effective responses that gave children real protection from the violence that so often plagued their lives. A children's agenda on issues of violence was already emerging. It was clear that violence was a priority concern of children all over the world and that they wanted their experiences and suggestions to be part of plans of action at national and local levels.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child affirmed children's rights to express their views freely in all matters that affected them. When children had easy and safe access to child protection mechanisms, hidden or ignored instances of violence often surfaced. There were also many examples where children had pro-actively sought ways to voice, prevent and stop violence. The Commission should urge all States to include a strong focus on eradicating violence against children in all relevant national plans of actions and policies related to children.
OLGA SALANUEVA, of Federation of Cuban Women speaking on behalf of Women's International Democratic Federation and Organization for the Solidarity of the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America, said the children of the five Cubans held in the United States on false charges of terrorism had been victims of all the hatred felt by the United States for Cuba. And while a child did not know of its right to live with its parents, adults were responsible for ensuring that those rights were respected.
The five men being unjustly held were defending the right of all Cuban children to live freely and in peace.
NATIVIDAD GUERRERO, of Centro de Estudios Sobre la Juventud, speaking on behalf of National Union of Jurists of Cuba, said that in Cuba children represented one-fifth of the population. A large amount of the country's annual budget was allocated to the protection and promotion of the rights of Cuban children. In the world, 135 million children between 7 and 18 were not going to school. If international contributions to prevent AIDS were not increased, by 2010 the number of persons infected by that disease in 126 countries would rise to 45 million.
In Cuba, children and adolescents enjoyed a different situation, with the guarantee that they were provided with an alternative health system. Cuban universities trained youths in a disciplined way so that they could lead quality lives. Medical universities in Cuba hosted students from several Latin American countries, including Honduras. Those who came from Honduras were proud to be Honduran but they were ashamed of their Government's position against Cuba. In Honduras, infant mortality was high and efforts to reduce it were weak.
DANIEL MESSERLI, of World Organization against Torture, said that despite urgent appeals issued all year long, there had been a failure by the judiciary and responsible administrative authorities to react promptly to allegations of ill-treatment or torture of children in police facilities, detention centres and other public institutions in most parts of the world. In cases of child abuse by State agents, adequate measures should be taken urgently not only to fight impunity but also and especially to prevent further abuse.
The Commission should urge Governments to suspend immediately any State agent alleged to have committed acts of ill-treatment against children for the duration of the investigation. As for child victims of such abuse, they should receive formal recognition and reparations from the State, as well as full psycho-social and medical rehabilitation.
EYLAH KADJAR-HAMOUDA, of International Federation Terre des Hommes, said child trafficking inflicted a huge amount of anguish on children -- anguish caused by traffickers and others who exploited children, but also anguish caused by police and Government agencies once they took control of trafficked children. The failure of Governments to agree exactly what constituted trafficking, and their corresponding failure to agree on standard ways of measuring the extent of the problem, exacerbated the anguish caused children. Governments mostly concentrated on trafficking across borders, when in practice huge numbers of children had been trafficked within their own countries.
There existed a huge diversity in trafficking, and the ways in which children were trafficked and exploited also varied immensely. Good practices required more independent evaluation and coordination between different agencies than now existed. Terre des Hommes welcomed any procedure regarding human trafficking, providing that it addressed the real needs of the victims. The United Nations needed a high-level, independent advocate to monitor and respond to the widespread abuses linked to trafficking.
JUAN PERLA, of General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, said the Convention on the Rights of the Child had clearly identified the fundamental human right of religious freedom that was established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and many other national and international instruments. In particular article 14 obliged signatories to make a definite commitment to that basic human right. The General Conference was concerned that despite such clear and unequivocal language, certain States parties were not complying with their explicit obligations.
The Conference affirmed the right of every child to a happy and stable home environment, and the freedom and support to grow up to be the person God intended him or her to be. The positive contribution made by the Convention on the Rights of the Child to making such a situation a reality through a clear commitment to religious freedom was also recognized. As a Church, the Adventists sought to aid children who suffered from destructive influences
RACHEL BRETT TAYLOR, of Friend's World Committee for Consultation, said very few children went looking for a war to fight. Poverty was often cited as the cause of child soldiering, but this was too simplistic. The role of poverty in this matter was both direct and indirect. The factor most underestimated was the family, which was possibly the single most critical influence determining whether or not a child joined a fighting force. There was in particular a direct link between domestic exploitation, physical and/or sexual abuse, and the decision to volunteer to be a soldier.
To counter the problem of child recruitment, in addition to taking legal steps it was necessary to address the key underlying factors of war, poverty, education, employment and the family. These provided a framework for policy and programme planning without which no initiative was likely to have a sustained effect.
ESTELA B. DE CARLOTTO, of International Movement for Fraternal Union among Races and Peoples, said the organization was concerned about the investigation into the disappearance of individuals under Argentina's last dictatorship and called for information to be released on the thousands of individuals, including children, who had disappeared.
The Argentine Government had recently indicated its intention to end impunity and the President had proposed that Congress consider a bill for historic reparations for the children of the victims of the disappearances. There also had been a proposal to establish a museum at one of the worst of the former concentration camps. The opening of the archives of the armed forces would shed light on the atrocities committed under the dictatorship.
SARAH CANEPA, of Human Rights Advocates, urged the Commission to continue its mission of abolishing the death penalty for youth offenders. The prohibition of that practice had risen to the level of jus cogens because it was general international law; accepted by a large majority of States as a whole; immune from derogation; and modifiable only by new norms of the same status.
The international community had demonstrated widespread and near universal compliance with the prohibition of the juvenile death penalty. Aside from the United States, in the past 10 years there had been only eight executions of juveniles. The countries where those executions occurred had since either abolished the practice, adopted laws prohibiting the death penalty for juveniles, acknowledged that such practices were against their laws, or denied that such executions had taken place. The United States remained the most egregious offender. It had executed nine juvenile offenders since 2000.
ARIE DE PATER, of Jubilee Campaign, said he had woken, in the 1990s, to horrifying reports of children who were routinely shot dead in the streets of Brazil. However, many had assumed that those days had been consigned to the pages of history. Yet a recent visit to Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Olinda and Sao Paulo had demonstrated that the carnage continued and flourished in a climate of fear, silence and official collusion. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions had confirmed this bleak picture. Along with greater accessibility to guns, what had changed since the 1990s and had deepened the crisis was the emergence of a ruinous culture of drugs. And although there had been no formal declaration of war, the children caught up in the escalating violence were child soldiers by another name.
Prison conditions were a national disgrace, and the manner in which children were arrested and detained was particularly appalling. The Brazilian Government should be encouraged to continue to learn best practices on the protection of children and adolescents and the provision of security for witnesses, journalists and human rights organizations.
REGINE NZATE KONGBANYI, of Comite international pour le respect et l'application de la charte africaine des droits de l'homme et des peuples, said in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, due to the grave political and socio-economic crisis, many parents could not fulfil their minimal obligations to provide education, health, and the care required by any child. There were many children in danger of not surviving. Some of them were recruited to serve as cannon fodder in ongoing conflicts, others used for prostitution, drug trafficking, and de-mining operations.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo should elaborate a national plan for children, and should make primary education and medical care accessible to all children. The Commission should send a Special Rapporteur to the country, and the international community should set up an international judiciary mechanism for the Democratic Republic of the Congo which would try cases of sexual violence amounting to war crimes.
YADOLAH MOHAMMADI, of Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, said twenty armed conflicts were under way around the world on each given day, most of them in poorer countries. Wars left deep scars and had social and economic effects, particularly on health, nourishment and education. Children were the most vulnerably group in any war.
Today there were around a million child soldiers in the world. Often these child soldiers were under ten years old. The terrible conditions endured by children in war required a serious and practical response from international organizations. The international community must make States adopt the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflicts. Governments and international institutions should give priority to the rights and welfare of children, and should be held accountable for the state of child rights.
RAUL VAN TROI NAVARRO MARTINEZ, of World Federation of Democratic Youth, said the Convention on the Rights of the Child stated that children should enjoy special opportunities with services geared towards them, yet many children had not benefited from those promises. There were Cuban children who had been separated from their fathers because their fathers had been falsely imprisoned in the United States. These children were among the possible future victims of the United States in its policy of aggression against Cuba.
There were also children who suffered in Honduras. Although children represented 35 per cent of the global population, they faced daily suffering. One in four lived in poverty; 400 million served as slaves; 27 per cent had not been vaccinated against childhood diseases. Were these the rights promulgated by the United Nations? The Commission had the obligation to condemn the barbarities perpetrated against children on a daily basis.
JENNIFER PHILPOT-NISSEN, of World Vision International, urged the Commission to address the escalating level of abductions of children in situations of armed conflict through a strong, action-focused resolution especially targeted to such abuses. Abductions in armed conflict, particularly in Africa, were increasing at an alarming rate with children being abducted to serve as soldiers, labourers, to be forced into sexual slavery, and even to be prevented from joining the opposing armed forces. Many of these children were tortured or killed by their abductors or were forced to kill and torture others, including members of their own families or communities, making it impossible for them to return home.
Abductions affected every aspect of children's lives, disrupting education and severely impacting upon their mental and physical health. Abductions of children had been reported in many African conflicts, notably in northern Uganda, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Burundi and Côte d'Ivoire.
BRENDA VUKOVIC, of Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, said failure to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child was a matter of concern. The Convention, as well as other human rights instruments, should be the norm for the promotion and protection of the rights of the child throughout the world. Not enough was being done to bring domestic legislation into line with the Convention. Street children were systematically institutionalised and removed from their families, and this showed a lack of political will to implement the Convention in the context of national legislation.
It was possible to fulfil the Convention, once wrongs were redressed. There should be a strengthening of national and international measures to promote and protect children, and to forbid their labour.
CHRISTIANE DEHOY, of Anti-Slavery International, said the organization wished to draw attention to the specific situation of the Muslim Rohingya children of northern Myanmar, who were born stateless and were discriminated against from birth on the basis of their ethnicity. The country's 1982 Citizenship Law had deprived them of citizenship rights and had perpetuated their statelessness. Moreover, the "white cards" that the ruling party had begun issuing to the Muslim population were no more than a temporary measure and could not be used to claim citizenship.
Among the other rights impeded by the regime were freedom of movement; the rights to health and education; access to food, which was restricted through a system of arbitrary taxation and extortion; freedom to marry; and the right to reproductive health. Many Rohnigya children were subject to forced labour. Gross human rights abuses and systematic policies of underdevelopment had resulted in repeated cycles of exodus of the Rohnigya to Bangladesh. The Commission should address such discriminatory practices and urge the Government of Myanmar to ensure respect for the fundamental rights of Rohingya children.
LOUIE CRISMO, of Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance, said the agenda for children remained unfinished. The attention of the Commission should be focused on children in need of special protection, who included children caught up in the worst forms of child labour, street children, children who were victims of physical or sexual abuse, and children in conflict with the law.
Children in situations of armed conflict included those who had been arrested, detained, tortured and raped, or had been witnesses of carnage. These harrowing experiences and others had bred a culture of violence among children and had impeded their healthy development. The Commission should urge Governments to strictly enforce the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to put in place systems and programmes that provided rehabilitation, health care, appropriate educational assistance, and livelihoods for such children and their families.
MU HONG, of All-China Women's Federation, said that of the millions of homeless in the United States, children accounted for a considerable proportion. According to statistics released by the United States Census Bureau in September 2003, some 10.4 per cent of minors lived in poverty. Meanwhile, children and adolescents were under threat of sexual assault. In recent years, more and more scandals had come to light that children had been harassed, molested and raped by priests in the United States. In June of 2003, the "USA Today" newspaper had reported that in the past 18 months, at least 1,000 people had been arrested in the United States for alleged acts of eroticism targeting children. Of those arrested, 400 were charged with producing and spreading pornographic materials related to children via the Internet.
The United States was one of the major receiving countries of trafficked and migrant children. Although the Government claimed to provide financial support for shelters and other assistance for victims, at least 5,000 children going to the United States to find relatives or to avoid wars had been put in custody. Those children were jailed together with adult inmates, and were abused in ways that included frisking by being unclothed, handcuffed and flogged.
SHAHEEN SCHBAI, of International Institute for Peace, said with so much emphasis on the implementation of human rights, one would have thought that children would be the biggest beneficiaries of United Nations efforts in this field. Available information, however, provided a dismal picture of the situation of children around the world. Apart from the numerous child soldiers who were being used in armed conflicts every year, at least 2 million girls between the ages of 5 and 10 were being bought and sold as sexual slaves.
The Commission should instruct the Special Rapporteur on education to investigate the issue of corporal punishment of children in the schools of Pakistan.
MARIA LUISA TOLEDO, of Latin American Federation of Associations of Relatives of Disappeared Detainees, said the overriding priority of the organization was the forced disappearances of individuals, and cases of disappeared children were of particular importance. Some had been kidnapped with their parents, while others had been born into captivity. As a result of such actions, there were men and women today who were still searching for their true identities.
The Federation wished to recognize the efforts of the Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo of Argentina and of the Asociacion Prebusqueda of El Salvador. Among ongoing situations that were causes of concern, it had been reported that more than 11,000 children served as soldiers in Colombia. The Commission was called upon to provide the means for ensuring real respect for the rights of the child.
SANDA RAHOELISON RAZAFIARISOA, of World Young Women's Christian Association, said in the twenty-first century, the basis of oppression and violence towards children came from the patriarchal system and from globalization. This dominating mentality did not respond to the needs, the feelings or the desires of children, and it imprisoned children in a world without feelings and surrounded them with violence.
Children underwent violence in the heart of the family, in society and in the street. In the entire world, one child out of two was a victim of physical or psychological violence. Governments should recognize their responsibilities and should be more committed to solving the problems of children. It was vital to establish coordinated efforts based on collective work by different organizations.
KLAUS NETTER, of B'nai B'rith International, said the world was confronted with human rights abuses of appalling magnitude: thousands of children in several parts of the world were being raised and educated to hate and in many cases to sacrifice their young lives for a cause beyond their full understanding. This ran against every single parental ideal of nurturing a new generation, and fitted into every international definition of child abuse at its most disturbing.
And yet the Commission had not seen fit to launch an inquiry into this frightful practice. The Commission should address this problem through inclusion of specific references in the text of the resolution on the Rights of the Child, and should appoint a Special Rapporteur to investigate and report on situations where the education of children was being subverted.
NAJOUA MILADI, of National Union of Tunisian Women, said Tunisia had been one of the first countries to adopt the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to promulgate a legal code addressing children's rights. Children in Tunisia were protected within the family and within society. Among other initiatives, a national observatory had been established to gather information and documentation and to carry out studies on the protection of child rights. A special family court was being created.
There had also been revision of the national code to give children born of Tunisian mothers but non-Tunisian fathers the possibility of Tunisian nationality. All illegitimate children had the right to a name. Regional supervisors for child protection had been established in each Governorate. Children in situations of special vulnerability had not been forgotten. A National Council for handicapped children had been established to study different aspects of the protection and promotion of the rights of such children.
JAMYANG CHOEPHEL, of International Union of Socialist Youth, said China was a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. For the more than four decades of Chinese rule in Tibet, Tibetan children had been deprived of an education based on Tibet's history, culture, language and religion. For instance, a study conducted a few years ago by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy had shown that 93 per cent of Tibetan refugee children arriving in India and Nepal had received no education about Tibet's separate history, its Buddhist religion or its culture.
It was because of such a discriminatory system of education in Tibet that hundreds of Tibetan children fled each year, trekking the Himalayans to seek modern and traditional schooling in Tibetan schools in India. Some of those children were as young as six years old. Many did not survive the harsh conditions of the journey and died on the way.
EJIM DIKE, of Centre for Economic and Social Rights, said one of the great tragedies in the United States today was that child poverty remained a serious problem. That was inexcusable in a country that had the world's richest economy. The chance that a child in the United States would break the cycle of poverty was severely limited by a lack of jobs and a lack of supporting institutions for those who worked. Most importantly, there was a lack of an all-encompassing, good quality education. The foster care system had also failed to protect children from exploitative and harmful practices.
All these violations of children's rights were happening in a country that had yet to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The United States should put the welfare of children at the centre of its policies, and the Commission should take the bold step of holding the United States accountable for human rights violations within the country and around the world.
BAYAN ALARAJI, of Interfaith International, said that she was looking for a new Iraq where the coming new government should make the rights of child a reality, including the right to survival, development and health. Almost half of the population of Iraq was under 18, many children were highly vulnerable to disease and malnutrition; 1 in 4 children under 5 was chronically malnourished and 1 in 8 died before reaching five years; and the child and maternal mortality rate was high. Over the last three decades or more, many children in the country had faced poverty, lack of access to health services and denial of their rights to quality education. The new government should give particular attention to the rights of the child; it should show a clear political will to improve the status of children and to address their needs and their development. She was concerned about the way the Coalition Provisional Authority was addressing the security issue in Iraq while many innocent lives were lost. Today, millions of children who had suffered from the negative impact of war and neglect by the old regime were victims of terrorism and landmines.
JI SUN JEONG, of Woman's Voice International, said according to many western non-governmental organizations, food aid in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea did not reach the most vulnerable group, the children. Further, children should be protected from mental torture and shock. Children in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea were exposed to traumatic shock from witnessing public executions. Further, the Korean Government discriminated among children when it came to access to quality educational opportunities, and serious discrepancies in health services for children also existed. The Commission should appoint a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in order to investigate these reprehensible practices and in order to ensure that all children in that country enjoyed the right to the same quality of life.
Mr. FRANK, of Liberal International, said that if there was one thing that the speaker and other opponents of the Cuban Government would like to see the Government succeed in, it would be ensuring the well being and rights of Cuban children. Unfortunately, the absence of civil society on the island forced Cubans of good will to raise the issue of children's rights abroad and to seek help from the international community. If Havana allowed a representative of the Commission to visit the island, he or she would verify that Cuban children were no longer entitled to receive milk rations after their seventh birthday; and that the care rendered to children in Cuban hospitals was frequently characterized by poor hygiene, poor diet and severe shortages of medicine. Child prostitution was also a problem. These facts accounted for why Havana refused to allowed visits by a representative of the Commission.
LORENA ESPINOZA, of Research Centre for Feminist Action, said the international community and Governments were both responsible for preventing crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity, particularly in those populations that were the most vulnerable. One way to combat such violations was to offer information about human sexuality that was complete and free of bias, and the Commission should recognize and affirm the rights of children and adolescents to an integral education that made possible a life both responsible and respectful towards their rights and the rights of others. The Commission should affirm the principle of the universality of rights, and recognise the acute vulnerability of some populations. It should also condemn human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and in so doing help save the dignity and even the lives of millions of youths.
LETICIA VAN HAREN, of Association of World Citizens, said the climate of reception of non-citizens of Western Europe was hardening in all countries. The consequences for the health and well-being of the children who were directly or indirectly victims of this rejection-oriented policy were significant. When parents chose to return or to stay on illegally, children obviously paid the heaviest price in both cases. Such policies exposed children willingly and knowingly to an almost certain violation of several of their rights, either in the country of origin or in the country of non-asylum. Governments should acknowledge that their non-entry policies violated the human rights of children, born and unborn. The Special Rapporteur on the rights of children should pay special attention to the human rights situation of children of rejected immigrants and asylum seekers.
ROY BROWN, of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, said that children continued to be abused in the name of religion. Governments had not done enough to ensure that their rights were protected in this regard. Among other instances in which religion played a factor in abuses of children's rights, it was certainly a factor in child marriages in India, in the use of children as virgin goddesses in Nepal, in female genital mutilation in several African countries, in the use of children as soldiers in an unholy war in Uganda and in the widespread instances of child molestation by the Roman Catholic Church in the United States and United Kingdom. States should not hesitate in tackling the religious abuse of children as they had tackled the abuse of children on so many other fronts.
Right of Reply
CHOE MYONG NAM (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), speaking in a right of reply, said his delegation did not want to dignify the preposterous and naïve remarks made by Woman's Voice International, but wished to make it clear that the long list of information mentioned was nothing but a fabrication which used to be used by certain forces hostile to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The Commission was not the place for such misleading statements to be made. The education of those who made such statements was clearly in need of being more effectively supervised.