Forum on reducing violence, harm and exploitation of children
KUALA LUMPUR, 21 September 2005 - The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are both committed to a human rights perspective of the rights of children to live free from violence, harm and exploitation. Both organisations are deeply concerned with the numerous reports of violence, harm and exploitation of children.
In an effort to create greater awareness and overcome the problem, SUHAKAM in collaboration with UNICEF, will organise a Forum on “Reducing Violence, Harm and Exploitation of Children” on 26 and 27 September 2005 in Kuala Lumpur, to further emphasise the need to pay heed to and expedite earlier recommendations made and outlined in the Report on the “Trafficking of Women and Children – A Cross Border and Regional Perspective” forum held in April 2004 and a follow-up Workshop in October 2004.
Concept of child protection
SUHAKAM Commissioner Datuk Dr Raj Karim said the concept of protection of children was inherent in every society and culture. “This responsibility is primarily the obligation of parents and the immediate family. Legal frameworks and international laws recognise the duty of the State to protect children against violence, abuse and exploitation."
According to Datuk Dr. Raj, SUHAKAM is committed to building a protective environment for children and reducing violence, harm and exploitation of children in line with the functions of SUHAKAM, which are stipulated in the Human Rights Act of 1999.
She added that through this Forum, and in partnership with UNICEF, SUHAKAM hoped to create more awareness about the need to protect children from violence, harm and exploitation.
“It is my hope too that this Forum will result in more focus and emphasis being paid to issues like child trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse of children, stateless children and exploitation of children for profits,” she added.
Frameworks to reduce violence
The main aim of the Forum is to facilitate discussion and agreement on steps required at national and regional levels to reduce violence, harm and exploitation of children. Additional aims of the Forum are to:
Datuk Dr Raj said the target audience for the Forum were decision makers in relevant Government departments, the judiciary, law enforcement agencies, immigration, customs, prisons department, the town council, embassies, the Royal Malaysian Police, NGOs and UN agencies like UNDP, UNHCR and UNIFEM.
A protective environment for children
Meanwhile, UNICEF Representative to Malaysia Gaye Phillips said the progress humanity makes is linked directly to the progress made for children. That is why the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is important.
“Adults hold the power to address those challenges by building a protective environment for children. The environment includes the family, community, society and the state. When we build a world fit for children to live, we also build a world fit for adults.”
She added that UNICEF used the term ‘child protection’ to refer to protection from violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect. Violations of the child’s right to protection, in addition to being human rights violations, are also massive, under recognised and underreported barriers to child survival and development.
“UNICEF’s approach is to work with partners, in this case, SUHAKAM to strengthen the web of elements that make up a protective environment for children.”
To achieve this, UNICEF employs a number of child protection strategies. Relevant strategies to this discussion include:
UN study on violence against children
“The study provided an in-depth global picture of violence against children and proposed clear recommendations for the improvement of legislation, policy and programs relating to the prevention of and response to violence against children. The focus was on prevention strategies.”
She added that to facilitate the development of prevention strategies, UNICEF was proud to have partnered with SUHAKAM to hold this Forum.
For more information, please contact SUHAKAM at (+6.03) 2612 5600.