UNICEF condemns exchange of girls as compensation
Port Moresby, 19 January 2014 - UNICEF strongly condemns the use of children or any other human being, as commodities under any circumstances.
UNICEF Representative, Baba Danbappa, in response to a recent newspaper story about two teenage girls, aged 13 and 15, exchanged as part of a compensation and peace keeping payment in Jiwaka Province, described the act as one of the worst forms of violence against children, an outrageous violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Children (CRC) and totally unacceptable.
"We urge the government to take action immediately. All children have a right to grow up in an environment that ensures their protection. The need to protect children cuts across all areas of UNICEF’s work and we are very disturbed by this report. Creating this protective environment is the best chance we have of safeguarding all children and it is the responsibility not only of governments, but of every member of society," Mr. Danbappa emphasized.
Not only did the Government of Papua New Guinea just sign the CRC in 1993 but it also ratified this international treaty, making a bold and public commitment in the eyes of the global community to ensure each of the 54 Articles in the Convention becomes a reality for children in Papua New Guinea.
A cornerstone of the CRC principles highlights the best interest of children, without any discrimination, to be the paramount consideration for their survival and full development. Any practices that harm and deny children their right to protection, survival, development and have their views heard are a violation of this international commitment.
Mr. Danbappa reiterated that as a signatory to the CRC, it was the government’s responsibility to ensure children were protected from all harmful practices. UNICEF has supported the Government among other things, to review and change laws and policies to keep its promise to the international community through the Lukautim Pikinini Act (LPA) 2009 and related legislations. The LPA has been revised to tighten gaps, strengthen enforcement and better protect children. The implementation and enforcement however, requires both Administrative and Political will for its second passage in parliament.
"Children are human beings with dignity but more vulnerable to protection issues because of their gender, age, size and in many cases do not have a voice. The biggest challenge lies with the timely passage and implementation of the Revised Lukautim Pikinini Act 2009 by the Parliament for its effective and efficient implementation. There is a growing demand by key stakeholders requiring the LPA to be finalised promptly so that protection issues like this can be effectively implemented through relevant authorities," Mr. Danbappa added.
The critical hurdle in the country’s attempts to effectively protect PNG children is in ensuring the revised Lukautim Pikinini Act is passed as soon as possible.
Abuse and exploitation can have a devastating effect on an individual child. But what is often unacknowledged is the cumulative toll that child exploitation can exert upon a society's social and economic development. Because exploitation can keep a child out of school, in poor health and subject to physical and psychological abuse, it robs children of their chance to fulfil their potential. Multiplied many times over, it robs a society of its potential for development,"
Abuse and exploitation can have a devastating effect on an individual child. But what is often unacknowledged is the cumulative toll that child exploitation can exert upon a society’s social and economic development. Because exploitation can keep a child out of school, in poor health and subject to physical and psychological abuse, it robs children of their chance to fulfil their potential. Multiplied many times over, it robs a society of its potential for development," cautioned Mr. Danbappa.