PANAMA CITY, 6 September 2004 – With the expressed intention of protecting Latin American and Caribbean children and adolescents in a more effective manner against all forms of violence that affect the region, UNICEF and the international non- governmental organization, Casa Alianza, have recently signed their first regional cooperation agreement.
The alliance aims to promote an exchange of experiences between the institutions, the implementation of joint protection and prevention programs for people under 18 years of age against violence, abuse, abandonment, sexual and economic exploitation and trafficking, as well as to support rehabilitation initiatives for victims and the reinsertion into society of adolescents in conflict with the law.
Bruce Harris, the Regional Director of Casa Alianza, and Nils Kastberg, the Regional Director of UNICEF for Latin America and the Caribbean, signed an agreement that will also facilitate the carrying out of joint studies and publications and future advocacy projects between both organizations.
Assistance to street children and the search for alternative lifestyles, as opposed to the stigma against adolescents produced by the phenomenon of gangs or “maras” constitute a key part of the work of UNICEF and Casa Alianza. Both organizations share the idea that the solution to the social problems that affect children and adolescents should come through public policies in education, health, housing, employment and protection, that is to say, through the creation of opportunities. The response of the state, faced with this type of problem, is to punish the children who live in conditions of poverty.
“You can not give simple answers to profound problems”, said Nils Kastberg, referring to the measures taken by some governments to increase the penalties of those children and adolescents who commit offenses. Kastberg emphasized resocialization as an effective measure to decrease the levels of violence in the region.
Bruce Harris, for his part pointed out that the violence that affects the children of the region, has reached record levels in the last few months. He confirmed that Casa Alianza proposes to put a face to every anonymous child and adolescent that suffers from exploitation, discrimination and violence.
Through this agreement, Casa Alianza and UNICEF reaffirm their pledge to act and fulfill the basic principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in addition to promoting the development of children in the region in a complete and integral manner.
For more information, contact:
María Blanco, Communication Officer, The American and the Caribbean Regional Office, UNICEF, Tel: +507 315 74 85, Cell: +507 682 74 89, firstname.lastname@example.org