Armenia ratifies Optional Protocol on Sale of Children
Armenian children now have greater protection
UNICEF APPLAUDS ARMENIAN RATIFICATION OF CRC OPTIONAL PROTOCOL
YEREVAN, 19 March 2005 – President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan today signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, ratified by the National Assembly of Armenia on 28 February 2005.
“The commercial sexual exploitation of children is a horrific crime and an intolerable violation of child rights,” says Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative in Armenia. “The ratification of this Protocol is a major step forward in the campaign to protect the children of this country from sexual exploitation and abuse. With its ratification, Armenia joins a transnational partnership to tackle this global crime.”
The Protocol applies to children under the age of 18 and obliges ratifying countries to take measures to prevent, investigate and punish cases of sexual exploitation and sale of children and provide victims with proper counseling and rehabilitation.
“UNICEF estimates that over one million children worldwide enter the multi-billion dollar commercial sex trade every year, though accurate statistics are hard to come by given the clandestine nature of this industry, says Yett. “It is clear that this is a global scourge, affecting every country in the world, including Armenia.”
These exploited children are at increased risk of violence, drug abuse, and disease – including HIV/AIDS. The damage endures long after the violations; sexually exploited children suffer harm – sexual, physical and emotional – that can last a lifetime.
The Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on 25 May 2000. Armenia’s ratification brings the total number of ratifying countries up to 88.
“We will continue to support the Government of Armenia in its efforts to build a protective environment for children, including the measures required as a result of this ratification,” says Yett. “The National Assembly is now considering the second Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which addresses the involvement of children in armed conflict. We urge its speedy ratification.”
UNICEF began working in Armenia in 1994. UNICEF is mandated by the UN General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to meet their full potential.
For more information:
Emil Sahakyan, Communication Officer, UNICEF Yerevan
tel: (+374 1) 523 546
Angela Hawke, UNICEF Regional Office for CEE/CIS, tel: (+41 22) 909 5433