CRINmail 1351

Child Rights Information Network logo
30 October 2013 view online | subscribe | submit information

CRINmail 1351

In this issue:

Problems viewing this CRINmail? Click here




Costa Rica ratifies children’s UN complaints mechanism

The Parliament of Costa Rica has approved the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a complaints procedure. The State now joins the ranks of Thailand, Gabon, Bolivia, Germany, Spain, Albania, Portugal and Montenegro. With nine States having now ratified the Optional Protocol, we are one ratification away from the mechanism’s entry into force.

CRIN has produced a toolkit explaining how the complaints procedure works, which includes an annotated guide, as well as a comparative guide to other international communications procedures of the UN. The toolkit is available to download in Arabic, English, French and Russian. The Spanish version will be available shortly.

A child-friendly guide to the complaints procedure is also available from the office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Violence against Children. Entitled ‘Raising Understanding among Children and Young People on the Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure’, the guide aims to increase children’s understanding about their rights and enhance their confidence to speak up and seek support. Download the guide here.

Further information:


Roma media coverage “sensationalist” and “irresponsible”

World media providers have been criticised for their “irresponsible” coverage of recent cases concerning children living in Roma families. These involve children whose physical appearance (light-coloured hair, skin and eyes) do not match that of other Roma people, who are mistakenly thought to only have dark skin and features. Based solely on this assumption, several Roma children were removed from their families recently, only to be returned following DNA tests.  

The European Roma Rights Centre has criticised police officers involved in the cases, saying that their actions are not based on facts and evidence, but rather “on perceived difference in physical appearance between parents and children [which] constitutes racial profiling.”  In relation to the media’s coverage of the cases, Nils Muiznieks, Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe, condemned recent news reports for having “insisted on the ethnicity of the families from which the children have been taken, thus propagating age-old myths portraying Roma as child-abductors".  Meanwhile the UN Independent Expert on minority issues, Rita Izsák, described media coverage of the cases as sensationalist, disturbing and dangerous, saying that “some authorities and media outlets appear to be working on the basis that the Roma are ‘guilty until proven innocent’.”

The European Roma Rights Centre has published a legal factsheet, which provides an overview of legal standards relating to racial profiling and child removal, as well as another factsheet that explains some of the key problems that Roma, and in particular Romani children, face in Europe today but are rarely reported on. The aim of these factsheets is to advise authorities and media outlets on taking a proportionate and responsible approach to child protection based on facts and evidence.


Indigenous youth suicide ‘without precedent’

The suicide rate among the Guarani tribe in Brazil is 34 times the national average, reports the indigenous rights organisation, Survival International. Most of the victims are between 15 and 29 years old, with the youngest recorded victim just nine. Guarani members say the situation is due to the effects of the loss of their ancestral lands to which they have a strong spiritual connection. Attacks by gunmen hired by ranchers force the indigenous community from their lands, which are then used illegally by cattle ranchers and for sugar cane plantations. As a result, Guarani families are made to live in squalid conditions on roadsides or in overcrowded reserves, which often leads to malnutrition, poor health and alcoholism.

The situation has become so severe that indigenous youth suicide is thought to be  “without international precedent”, according to the America’s Program of the Center for International Policy. Studies in 2011 pointed to a feeling of displacement, culture shocks and existential crises as main causes, which themselves are the result of family breakdown, lack of opportunities, poor sanitation and living conditions in the city outskirts, as well as lack of healthy recreation, among other factors.

Indigenous peoples worldwide often suffer far higher rates of suicide than the majority population. Young Aborigines in Australia, for example, are four times more likely to commit suicide than their non-indigenous counterparts owing partly to a lack of life prospects, figures which prompted the Government in 2011 to take emergency measures to improve psychological services and boost education and employment opportunities among Aboriginal people. A 2006 report found that alcoholism was high among Botswana’s bushmen who had been removed from their ancestral land and taken to relocation camps. Another study from 1999 documented how the suicide rate in one Innu community in Canada was 12 times the national average as a result of social breakdown and forced cultural transformation.

For more detailed information about the human rights and health situation of indigenous peoples around the world, download ‘The Indigenous World 2013’ report by the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs here.


Teaching history in post-conflict societies

History textbooks that do not present objective accounts of historical events, particularly in post-conflict countries, are inconsistent with the right to education, the right to freedom of expression, and the right of all people to enjoy their own cultural heritage, said Farida Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights, at the launch of a new report on the issue. What’s more, when history textbooks promote “nationalistic political agendas and/or monolithic viewpoints of dominant powers,” they risk “programming children to stay in line with a State’s ideology or religion,” said Ms Shaheed. She also said that “younger children are … most vulnerable to the dissemination of fear and prejudice when history teaching is used to lay the foundations for exclusions and even violence, especially towards so-called ‘bad people,’ ‘enemy nations’ or ‘peoples.’” Download the report here.

The following links relate to controversies concerning textbooks that present historical inaccuracies, gloss over atrocities, and seek to instil discrimination in children.


Young armed forces recruits more likely to suffer mental health problems than adults

Studies have shown that teenagers who are recruited by countries’ armed forces are more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcohol problems and commit or attempt suicide than those who join as adults. Despite this, the United Kingdom is one of just 19 countries in the world - and the only country in the European Union - that continues to recruit 16-year-olds into its armed forces. This video tells the story of a young British recruit who says he feels he was conned by misleading recruitment marketing. It also has an interview with an advertising executive expressing his guilt at some of the marketing tactics he employed to get young people to join the armed forces.

In view of these findings  Child Soldiers International (CSI) has urged the UK’s Ministry of Defence to follow through with the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and stop recruiting children into the armed forces. “This is an outdated practice which causes serious and long-term damage to young people. The deliberate targeting of vulnerable young people for military recruitment in large numbers is a violation of the spirit of the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the involvement of children in armed conflict, to which the UK is party”, said Rachel Taylor, Advocacy Manager at CSI.

To read more about children and armed conflict, read our latest CRINmail on the issue here.  


Child-friendliness of governments in South Asia

A new report looks at the extent to which governments and non-state actors in South Asia have contributed to creating child-friendly societies. This is done by comparatively measuring the level of implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The report particularly considers children’s right to health, education and protection, and touches on the issues of birth registration, child marriage and participation. Among the report’s recommendations on building upon national progress so far is the need for governments to follow through with Concluding Observations, recommendations at the Universal Periodic Review and General Comments. Download the report here.


More than 29 million people living in slavery globally

More than 29 million people are living in slavery, according to the first index which attempts to measure the scale of modern-day slavery on a country-by-country basis. The index, published by the Walk Free Foundation, ranks 162 countries and identifies risk factors for enslavement as well as government responses. Findings from the index show that around ten countries hold about 70 per cent of the world’s slaves, with India ranking the highest, followed by China and Pakistan. Lack of data had long frustrated anti-slavery campaigners, with Nick Grono, CEO of the Walk Free Foundation, noting that this first index of its kind was “critical to measuring the scale of the problem on a country-by-country basis”. Mr. Grono also noted that research into slavery and human trafficking was usually conducted in the shadows, due to these violations being seen as “hidden crimes”. Earlier this year, in August, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) launched a new tool to help practitioners in their work towards eliminating the worst forms of child labour.


OHCHR call for submissions: child marriage, birth registration

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has issued two calls for submissions in the preparation of upcoming reports addressing human rights issues in relation to birth registration and child marriage.

For the report on child, early and forced marriage, the OHCHR welcomes in particular submissions on how States are implementing relevant international human rights law at a national level, examples of good practice and challenges encountered when addressing the issue in practicing communities, and information on any studies carried out to determine to prevalence of the practice. The deadline for submissions is 15 December 2013. More details here.

On the issue of birth registration, the OHCHR is inviting submissions for an upcoming report that will cover the legal, administrative, economic and physical barriers to access to universal birth registration and possession of documentary proof of birth. It will also contain good practices adopted by States in fulfilling their obligation to ensure birth registration. The deadline for submissions is 15 November 2013. More details here.

Back to top


CHILDREN'S RIGHTS WIKI: Spotlight on Jordan 

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

  • Discrimination in relation to the inheritance of nationality; 
  • Child labour;
  • Violence against children, particularly domestic violence;
  • Trafficking of children;
  • Discrimination against girls in access to education;
  • Inadequate sexual and reproductive health education and restrictive and punitive abortion laws;
  • Early marriage;
  • Low minimum age of criminal responsibility;
  • Use of deprivation of liberty of children as otherwise than a last resort;
  • Killings in the name of "honour";
  • Barriers to access to education for refugee and asylum-seeking children;
  • Lack of legal framework for the protection of refugee and asylum-seeking children;
  • Inequality between men and women with regards to parental responsibilities. 

For more information on these persistent violations, visit: 

Back to top



Ratification: "UP - Universally Promoting child rights" campaign
Organisation: Child Rights Connect (formerly the NGO Group for the CRC) 
Date: 21 October - 21 November 2013
Location: N/A 
More details here

Africa: 54th Session of the African Commission 
Organisation: African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
Date: 22 October - 5 November 2013
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
More details here

Violence: 19 Days of Activism - Prevention abuse and violence against children and youth 
Organisation: Women's World Summit Foundation
Date: 1-19 November 2013
Location: N/A 
More details here

Americas: 149th Session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Right (IACHR) 
Organisation: IACHR
Date: 24 October - 8 November 2013
Location: Washington DC, United States 
More details here

Child abuse: Cultural Practices and Religious belief - the impact of beliefs and practices on safeguarding children 
Organisation: Muslim Institute
Date: 9 November 2013
Location: London, United Kingdom
More details here.

Participation: Building an inclusive Europe - the contribution of children's participation 
Organisation: Eurochild
Date: 13-15 November 2013
Location: Milan, Italy 
More details here

Child rights: Honouring the child, honouring equity
Organisation: University of Melbourne's Youth Research Centre 
Date: 15-16 November 2013
Location: Melbourne, Australia 
More details here

Child protection & welfare: Developing Child-Centered Practice in Law, Social Work and Policy for Cross-Border Families
Organisation: African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
Date: 22 November 2013
Location: Baltimore, United States
More details here

Advocacy: Results in advocacy - an advocate's guide to impact assessment
Organisation: Pamoja Consulting
Date: 3-4 December 2013
Location: London, United Kingdom  
More details here

Child labour & Education: M.A.S. in Childrens Rights Module 4 on Child Labour and Education
Organisations: Institut Universitaire Kurt Bösch & University of Fribourg
Date: 2-6 December 2013
Location: University of Fribourg, Switzerland
More details here.

Child abuse: Preventing sexual abuse of children 
Organisation: Council of Europe
Date: 10-11 December 2013
Location: Madrid, Spain
More details here.

Statelessness: Global Forum on Statelessness - New directions in statelessnes research & policy 
Organisation: Tilburg University
Deadline for presentations: 1 December 2013
Event date: 15-17 September 2014
Location: The Hague, Netherlands 
More details here

Back to top



Save the Children Sweden: Thematic Advisor for Child Rights Governance and Organisational Capacity Development, Asia Region
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Application deadline: 3 November 2013
More details here

Save the Children Sweden: Thematic Advisor for Child Rights Governance and Organizational Capacity Development – Middle East and Europe
Location: preferably Amman, Jordan
Application deadline:
 17 November 2013
More details here.


Leak of the Week 

Online translation programmes offer us a quick and easy translation of an advocacy document. Indeed most of us are guilty of using them informally for short-notice tasks or to get the gist of a text. But professional translators will always advise that to get an accurate translation the human head is better than an automated programme. The following examples prove why.

The French translation of “advocates press for rights” will have advocates “squeezing” for rights. That’s one way to put it! 

The Russian language still has ground to cover in political correctness if “people with disabilities” are translated as “invalids”. 

The same goes for the Russian translation of “advocacy” if it’s referred to as “propaganda”. 

"Child-friendly justice" appears to be more inclusive in Spanish if it's translated as "justice [for] families with children". 

Though maybe a thesaurus could fix the idea in French that “one in six children work” does not mean that “one in six children function”. Call the mechanic - looks like five out of six children are broken!


Back to top

© Child Rights International Network 2013 ~

The CRINMAIL is an electronic mailing list of the Child Rights International Network (CRIN). CRIN does not accredit, validate or substantiate any information posted by members to the CRINMAIL. The validity and accuracy of any information is the responsibility of the originator. To subscribe, unsubscribe or view list archives, visit