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Children to file porn, prostitution, trafficking abuses with UN

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A new legal instrument established by the United Nations, allowing children or their representatives to file complaints with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, goes into effect in April, the United Nations announced Tuesday.

Only final required ratification is needed between now and April.

Tuesday's announcement included praise of Costa Rica for becoming the tenth country to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) announcement noted.

Convention on the Rights of the Child

“The Optional Protocol gives children who have exhausted all legal avenues in their own countries the possibility of applying to the Committee,” said Kirsten Sandberg, Chairperson of the Geneva-based Committee on the Rights of the Child, that monitors implementation of the treaty and its protocols.

“It means children are able to fully exercise their rights and are empowered to have access to international human rights bodies in the same way adults are under several other human rights treaties.”

Individual children or groups of children from countries that ratified the Optional Protocol will be able to submit complaints to the Committee on specific violations related to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

That Convention is a universally agreed set of non-negotiable standards and obligations, providing protection and support for the rights of children.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child has three Optional Protocols: 1) protecting children from trafficking, prostitution and child pornography; 2) prohibiting recruitment in armed conflict; and 3) allowing that they can take their complaints to the UN if their rights are being abused.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says the third Option Protocol will strengthen accountability, “not only helping to identify gaps in judicial systems for children at the national level but also supporting independent human rights institutions for children.”

"The UN agency noted that the Convention and its three protocols are particularly vital for children most vulnerable to human rights violations, especially those excluded and marginalized, such as children with disabilities, and from indigenous or minority families," the UN's statement said Tuesday.

Child-sensitive procedures and safeguards will ensure that any child filing a complaint is protected and will not experience any reprisals.

Measures will also be in place to ensure that the child “is not being manipulated or used to make the complaint,” Ms. Sandberg noted.

She called the Optional Protocol “a major step forward,” but stressed that Governments have the primary responsibility to address child rights violations.

“We urge States to develop their own systems to ensure that children’s rights are respected and protected and that their voices can be heard,” said Ms. Sandberg.

On behalf of the UN human rights office, she called on Governments that have not done so to ratify this Optional Protocol.

The Costa Rican Government will officially deposit its ratification this afternoon at the UN Headquarters in New York.

Source: UN New Centre

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