UNICEF and the SRSG on Violence against Children welcome GoP’s commitment to protect children from sexual exploitation
ISLAMABAD, June 9, 2011 – In a joint statement with the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children, UNICEF Pakistan today welcomed the Government of Pakistan’s move to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
“The ratification of this Optional Protocol marks a significant milestone in the efforts to protect children from sexual exploitation in Pakistan. This is also part of a global effort to bring the international community together in the fight against the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography,” said Dan Rohrmann, UNICEF Pakistan Representative.
“Pakistan was an early leader in the international community’s commitment to defending the rights of children around the world, ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1990. The Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography is a critical adjunct to the CRC that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2000. We applaud the Government of Pakistan’s commitment to extend the rights of children in Pakistan to include the right to protection from trafficking, prostitution and involvement in pornography,” added Mr Rohrmann.
The Protocol places special emphasis on protecting the rights and interests of child victims, requiring governments to provide legal and other support services. This obligation includes considering the best interests of the child in any interactions with the criminal justice system. Children must also be supported with necessary medical, psychological, logistical and financial support to aid their social reintegration.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais, joined UNICEF in welcoming this important decision. “I salute this solemn commitment by Pakistan to criminalize these serious child rights violations, to protect child victims and witnesses and to fight impunity within and across borders.”
“With this important development, the international community is moving increasingly closer to the universal ratification of the Optional Protocol. This is a goal I am committed to promoting, as part of the global campaign launched in May 2010 with the Secretary General, in cooperation with UNICEF and other UN partners,” said Ms Santos Pais.
The CRC’s Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography supplements the Convention by providing States with detailed requirements to end the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. It also protects children from being sold for non-sexual purposes, such as other forms of forced labour, illegal adoption and organ donation.
Pakistan stands now among 143 countries who have ratified the Protocol, reflecting global concern about the issues that it covers. In ratifying the Optional Protocol, the Government of Pakistan has committed to criminalise and punish the activities related to these offences. The Protocol requires punishment not only for those offering or delivering children for the purposes of sexual exploitation or transfer of organs, or offering children for profit or forced labour, but also for anyone accepting children for these activities.