UNICEF urges improved protection of children’s rights as best gift on Children’s Day
BANGKOK, 12 January 2012 – To mark Children’s Day in Thailand, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is urging the Thai public to respect children’s rights and to provide improved protection for children threatened by poverty, violence, neglect, abuse and exploitation.
“Everyone in society should respect the rights of all children and help protect those children who are particularly vulnerable to violence, neglect and abuse,” said Tomoo Hozumi, the UNICEF Representative for Thailand. “This will greatly improve their opportunities to develop to their full potential and will be the best gift they could receive on Children’s Day.”
While there has been significant progress for children in Thailand over recent decades, large numbers of children still suffer from extreme poverty, lack educational opportunities and are affected by the impact of HIV/AIDS, violence, abuse and exploitation. The most recent data from the government and non-government organizations shows that:
• About 600,000 children of primary school age are either not in school or enrol late;
• Although a child’s brain develops rapidly during the first five years of life, only about 75 per cent of children in Thailand attended early childhood development services in 2008;
• Each year, estimated 40,000 – 50,000 children are not registered at birth. As a result, they can be denied their right to health care and an education, and are much more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse;
• About 3.8 per cent of pregnant women living with HIV pass the virus on to their babies. Currently, some 14,000 children are living with HIV, and many of them suffer from poor health, stigmatization and discrimination;
• In 2010, more than 25,000 women and children were treated at One Stop Crisis Centre located inside hospitals nationwide due to abuse, and about 70 per cent of the children treated had been sexually abused.
The rights of children are protected under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989 and is now the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history.
The 193 countries that have ratified the CRC must ensure that children—without discrimination in any form—benefit from special protection measures and assistance; have access to services such as education and health care; can develop their personalities, abilities and talents to the fullest potential; grow up in an environment of happiness, love and understanding; and are informed about and participate in achieving their rights.
By ratifying the CRC in 1992 Thailand agreed to the standards in it, and is therefore required to bring its legislation, policy and practice into accordance with these standards. Thailand is also required to transform the standards into reality for all children, and to abstain from any action that may result in children not realizing their rights or otherwise violate their rights.
“Children have the same general human rights as adults, but they also have particular rights that recognize their special need for protection,” Hozumi said. “By ratifying CRC, the government is obliged to undertake the actions needed to protect and ensure the rights of all children in Thailand.”
Later this month, high-ranking officials from several ministries will travel to Geneva, Switzerland, to present to the Committee on the Rights of the Child a report on what the government is doing to ensure children’s rights are being met as called for under the CRC.
To promote children’s participation, UNICEF is providing support for two child representatives from Ayutthaya and Narathiwat provinces to join the mission.
“I want to talk about my experience of living in the far south” said Peemrapat Rongsuwat, 17, a child representative from Narathiwat Province. “Living here is not as scary as it seems in the media reports. I have many friends from different religions. We live together in harmony, understand each other and get along very well.”
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