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14 November 2012 view online | subscribe | submit information


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Call to redraft regional human rights declaration

The draft Human Rights Declaration for Southeast Asian States falls short of existing international human rights standards and risks creating a third-rate level of human rights protection in the region, a group of international human rights organisations has said in a letter to ASEAN Heads of State. In the letter, the organisations call for the adoption of the Declaration to be postponed and the text redrafted in a transparent process. Of particular concern are the serious compromises the Declaration makes in relation to the enjoyment of rights, which are to be “balanced with the performance of duties”, subjected to “national and regional contexts” as well as considerations of “different cultural, religious and historical backgrounds”. More on the story.

Church's response to child abuse to be investigated

Australia has announced plans to set up a national inquiry into the Catholic Church's response to allegations of child sex abuse. Since September, the Prime Minister has been under increasing pressure to establish one after it was revealed that over 620 children have been abused by the clergy in the state of Victoria since the 1930s. It is believed that the Church not only covered up cases to protect its priests and its reputation, but also destroyed evidence, moved offenders to other locations, silenced victims and hindered police investigations. Full story.

Civilians targets of brutal killings

At least 264 civilians, including 83 children, were arbitrarily executed by armed groups in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo between April and September this year, a UN investigation has revealed. Researchers found that the Raia Mutomboki armed group, with allied Mayi Mayi groups, are behind most of the killings. The opposing Nyatura group was found responsible for other rights violations in which the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda are also complicit. Both Nyatura and Raia Mutomboki have launched systematic and targeted attacks against civilians for supposed political reasons and economic gain. Full story.

Companies withdraw funding over anti-gay policy

The shipping giant, UPS, has said it will no longer donate funds to the Boy Scouts of America as long as it discriminates against gays. The IT giant, Intel, took the same stand last month. A spokesperson for UPS said that any groups applying for the company's grants must adhere to its non-discrimination policy in the areas of race, religion, disability and sexual orientation. Both decisions come after a petition was started on the campaigns website calling on corporations to stop their financial support of Boy Scouts on account of its anti-gay policy. Full story

Girl advocate inspires school initiative

In honour of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl recovering after being shot by the Taliban for defending girls' education, plans are being developed to create schools in her name for children living in 16 areas across the country affected by conflict or natural hazards. A fundraising scheme will soon be launched to generate finances for the project that will provide basic education to both girls and boys. Full story.

Still on education, Pakistan’s National Assembly has passed a new bill on free and compulsory education, which also provides for ten per cent reserved seats for poor children in all private schools. Full story

Facebook page ban raises censorship concerns

Facebook has sparked concerns about censorship after it removed photos on, and temporarily banned administrators of the Facebook group 'Uprising of Women in the Arab World'. Although the social networking site said a violation of its community standards had been committed, the Uprising of Women page only features photos of women, girls and men holding up messages of support for women's rights in the region. The case has many questioning the role of Facebook in moderating the content of its pages, with one user saying “I reported a group called 'It's NOT rape, simply free sex' multiple times, and it's still up”. Full story.

School segregation leads to productivity losses

States in Europe must take resolute measures to end school segregation of Roma children, as it makes it harder for these children to escape poverty and social marginalisation later in life, said the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks. The result of segregated education also generates unnecessary costs for society at large, the Commissioner argued, as he referred to a World Bank report that highlights annual productivity losses which run into the hundreds of millions of euros. Full story.

Child workers union demands rights in new bill

Bolivia's child workers union, UNATSBO, has submitted a proposal to the government on the rights of child workers with the aim that its provisions be included in the drafting of a national bill on children's rights. Among its demands are improved security for children who work in public places, and who police often prevent from working. One child worker said: “we want our rights to be respected, and for people not to think we're criminals when they see us on the street. We're only helping to support our families.” UNATSO also calls for child-led social movements to be given legal recognition, for the media to follow ethical reporting principles to prevent discrimination, and for the proposal to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 14 years to be rejected. Full story.

Voters enshrine child rights in Constitution

Voters in Ireland have approved an amendment to enshrine children's rights in the Constitution, with commentators saying that the country is turning a corner in its own “damning history” of child abuse. The new references to children's rights look at several areas including child protection and state intervention in exceptional circumstances. While some commentators have criticised the lack of ambition in the amendment, for the first time the Constitution recognises children as rights-holders, and identifies the state as the ultimate duty-bearer, ensuring that it is held accountable for guaranteeing or failing to guarantee children's rights. Full story.


In other news

The UNICEF office of research has produced a study reviewing the role of children's ombudspersons entitled 'Championing Children's Rights: a global study of independent human rights institutions for children'. The report highlights the purpose and potential of these institutions, what it is they do and how they operate, noting that their effectiveness is a function of both their mandate and pro-activeness and the environment they operate in, as well as being dependent on leadership capacity and sufficient funding. Download the report here.

Eurochild has set up a reference group on organisations' participatory work with children and young people. Its aim is to raise awareness amongst policy-makers on the advantages of children's participation, and to provide information on how this can be done, as well as opportunities for exchanging information and experiences between practitioners. To take part, fill in the online form here. The deadline for responses is 10 December 2012.  

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CHILDREN'S RIGHTS WIKI: Spotlight on Austria

In this week's Children's Rights Wiki, we look at the persistent violations of children's rights in Austria:

  • Trafficking of children;
  • Treatment of children in the asylum system;
  • Barriers to access to education for Romani children, particularly with regards to language;
  • Inadequate education provision for migrant children;
  • High rates of alcohol, tobacco and drug use among children;
  • Police questioning of children in the absence of legal advice or a trusted person;
  • Violence against children, particularly domestic violence;
  • Inadequate legislation and measures to combat sexual abuse of, and violence against children;
  • Societal discrimination against children from minority backgrounds;
  • Inappropriate use of detention for children;
  • Enrolment of children in the armed forces;
  • Lack of human rights education in schools.

For more information on these persistent violations, visit:

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Global: 23rd International Forum for Child Welfare (IFCW)
Organisation: IFCW 
Date: 26-29 November 2012
Location: Naples, Italy
More details here.

Violence: Call for Applications for the Children and Violence Evaluation Challenge Fund
Organiser: Children and Violence Evaluation Challenge Fund
Application deadline: 17 December 2012
More details here

Exploitation: Fighting Child Pornography on the Internet
Organisation: Academy of European Law (ERA)
Date: 29–30 November 2012
Location: Madrid, Spain
More details here

Latin America: Children & Violence in Juvenile Justice - the current situation, prevention & response mechanisms
Organisation: Defence for Children International et al.
Date: 5–7 December 2012
Location: Asunción, Paraguay
More details here

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ECLT Foundation: Policy and Advocacy Officer
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Application deadline: 21 November 2012
More details here.

European Roma Rights Centre: Programmes Director
Location: Budapest, Hungary
Application deadline: 22 November 2012
More details here


The Last Word

The idea that all human rights are to be ‘balanced’ against individual responsibilities contradicts the very idea of human rights agreed upon in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was affirmed by all States, including ASEAN Member States, in 1993 in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. Balancing human rights with responsibilities turns on its head the entire raison d’être of human rights.” 

-- Wilder Tayler, Secretary General of the International Commission of Jurists, commenting on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration's provision that human rights are to be “balanced with the performance of duties”. 

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© Child Rights International Network 2012 ~

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