UNICEF and Uzbek Parliament to build protective environment for children
TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, 10 April 2012 – A roundtable discussion was organised jointly today by the Committee on Democratic Institutions, NGOs and Self-governing Bodies of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis and UNICEF focusing on the protection of the rights of minors with regards a national justice for children framework.
The goal of the justice for children is to ensure that all child victims and witnesses, children who require protection of the law and, alleged offenders, have access to child friendly justice systems and services in line with relevant international norms and standards. That there is an emphasis on creating a protective and supportive environment for children and ensuring that legislation and legal and judicial services are implemented in the best interests of the child. Furthermore, that the children in contact with the law are provided with the most appropriate social and other support mechanisms that address their vulnerabilities and risks and offer them the best opportunity for a safer life.
“The approach of UNICEF all over the world is to create a protective and caring environment, where girls and boys are free from violence, exploitation, and unnecessary separation from family; and where laws, services, behaviours and practices minimize children’s vulnerability, address known risk factors, and strengthen children’s own resilience,” stressed Mr. Jean-Michel Delmotte, UNICEF Representative in Uzbekistan.
The meeting reviewed existing national legislation, mechanisms and practices concerning protection of the rights and interests of minors, especially with regard to ensuring their access to justice.
It brought together key stakeholders involved in the implementation of children’s rights: Members of Parliament (MPs) from different standing committees of the Legislative Chamber, MPs from the Senate, representatives of the Ombudsman's Office, Prosecutor General Office, Supreme Court, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Public Education, Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education, Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, National Human Rights Centre Republican Social Adaptation Centre, BAR Association, and Mahalla Fund.
Ms. Aliya Yunusova, Member of the Committee on Democratic Institutions, NGOs and Self-governing Bodies, gave an overview of the national legal documents addressing different aspects of the right of the child to protection. She also briefed participants about the field monitoring of the implementation of the Law on the Guarantees on the Rights of the Child conducted by MPs last year.
Ms. Christine Gale, UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, introduced international principles, standards and legal provisions for the protection of children in contact with the law, support mechanisms, prevention and diversionary measures, and examples of good practice.
A cross-section of stakeholders, including implementers of the law presented their views and opinions regarding the remaining challenges to the fulfillment of children’s rights and some emerging concerns. Together, they discussed ways of strengthening the protective environment around children, in particular, those who are at greatest risk and need protection. The ‘roundtable’ also helped to identify gaps in legislation and pointed out a need to develop new by-laws on juvenile justice and free legal aid.
Under the Memorandum of Understanding signed between UNICEF and the Legislative Chamber for the period 2009-2015, UNICEF collaborates with MPs to ensure that national legislation is fully harmonized with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and other relevant international treaties and legal instruments and implemented in a manner that is in the best interest of the child.
UNICEF assists in improving the normative framework for children through technical support to law and policy development, to monitoring, and standard-setting initiatives, to sharing global experiences and knowledge on justice for children and other critical child rights issues among parliamentarians.
As the chairperson of Committee on Democratic Institutions, NGOs and Self-governing Bodies of the Legislative Chamber Mr. Akmal Saidov noted, this year a series of roundtable discussions are being planned within the cooperation with UNICEF.
These roundtable meetings at the Parliament have proved to be a useful platform to monitor progress in the realization of child rights and identifying ways to accelerate legislative action for children. A child rights resource centre was established in 2009 at the Legislative Chamber to equip MPs with the required knowledge and update them with recent developments in child rights related issues, legislation and good practices.
Across the world, parliamentarians play an instrumental role in safeguarding children’s rights by bringing national laws in line with the CRC and international frameworks, making them child-sensitive, monitoring their implementation and impact on children. As advocates for the best interest of the child, they help ensure a broad support across political parties represented in Parliament.
Parliamentarians can also use their oversight function to liaise with relevant state ministries and ensure that government decisions about children in terms of policies, financial allocations, implementing measures and monitoring processes are informed by the views and legitimate concerns of civil society as a whole, including children.
As part of the continued collaboration between the Parliament and UNICEF, a photo exhibition entitled “All rights For All children” opened at the Legislative Chamber of Oliy Majlis the same day. The exhibition depicts a selection of articles from the Convention on the Rights of the Child through powerful photographs taken by a prominent UNICEF photographer Giacomo Pirozzi in different parts of the world, including in Uzbekistan.
Each of the 15 exhibition panels show us child rights ‘in action’ with examples of children from Uzbekistan as part of a larger assortment of countries and contexts across the world. The exhibition will remind MPs and those who see it that child rights are universal, interrelated and are to be enjoyed by every single child without discrimination. The exhibition will be on display at the Legislative Chamber of Oliy Majlis from today till the end of May 2012.