UNITE FOR CHILDREN-- UNICEF

Press Centre 2009/19/06: Children’s Rights

Turkish Parliament launches State of the World’s Children report and Child Rights Monitoring website
Children to help monitor child rights - via the web

Left to right: UNICEF Representative Reza Hossaini, General Director of Social Services and the Child Protection Agency İsmail Barış, Minister of State Selma Aliye Kavaf, Speaker of Parliament Mehmet Ali Şahin, Prof. Cevdet Erdöl, head of the parliamentary Child Rights Monitoring Committee, and European Commission Turkey Delegation Counsellor Ewan Marteil.

ANKARA, November 19, 2009 — The Turkish Grand National Assembly (Parliament) marked the twentieth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child with a launching ceremony for UNICEF’s new State of the World’s Children report and for its own child rights monitoring website.

The new interactive website will enable children to make direct contact with the parliamentary Child Rights Monitoring Committee.

“It is being said that this is the first time any Parliament has launched such a site,” Speaker of Parliament Mehmet Ali Şahin stated during the ceremony in the glittering halls of the Turkish Grand National Assembly on November 19. “If this is true I am very proud of it.”

By logging on to www.cocukhaklari.com.tr, citizens everywhere are able to transmit their ideas, experiences and difficulties related to children’s rights directly to any or all of the members of the one year-old parliamentary committee. Children and professionals working with children are expected to use the site most frequently.

Speaker Şahin, quoting data from the 2009 State of the World’s Children Report, commended UNICEF on the work it had done to improve the conditions of children worldwide since the Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989. But he found it “unforgiveable” that children were still dying of easily preventable diseases and hunger while the world continued to spend huge sums on arms.

Speaker of Parliament Mehmet Ali Şahin addresses the launch of the 2009 State of the World’s Children report and Child Rights Monitoring Committee website in the Turkish Grand National Assembly on November 19.

Pledge to do more

All speakers at the ceremony pointed to the importance which the Turkish parliament has historically attached to children. “Although we still haven’t managed to set up a child ombudsman system, this Parliament has done a lot for children, and we desire to do much more,” said Professor Cevdet Erdöl, the chairman of the Child Rights Monitoring Committee.

“Our children tell the truth; it is up to us to make sure their voices are heard,” declared Minister of State Selma Aliye Kavaf.

Sitting alongside the eight members of the Child Rights Monitoring Committee were a boy and a girl from each of Turkey’s 81 provinces. The children were in Ankara to represent their provincial child rights commissions at the tenth Children’s Forum, an annual event organised by the Directorate General for Social Services and the Child Protection Agency (SHÇEK), with EU financial and UNICEF technical support.

Celebrating the convention

UNICEF Representative Reza Hossaini noted that infant mortality was declining rapidly in Turkey, more girls were in schools and progressive child protection legislation had been adopted. “If it had not been for the Convention on the Rights of the Child – the most ratified human rights treaty in the world – we would probably not have achieved so much,” he went on to say. “The interactive website… will allow children’s voices to be heard whenever there is a debate about any policy which affects children,” Mr Hossaini added, underlining that child participation was one of the key principles of the Convention.

EU Turkey Delegation Counsellor Erwan Marteil spoke of the growing importance placed by the EU on child rights issues both in its internal policy and in its external relations. “We consider the Convention as a common foundation, he continued. “It is good to see children using their right to participate and their freedom of association and assembly.”

UNICEF State of the World’s Children report 2009

UNICEF has marked the anniversary of the Convention with the publication of a special edition of its flagship report, the State of the World’s Children. The report shows how the Convention has raised awareness of child rights and helped to transform attitudes to childhood around the world through a series of essays and panels.

More than 70 countries have incorporated children’s codes into national legislation since the Convention took effect in 1990. The Convention has also encouraged national and local governments to adopt child-friendly budget initiatives, social protection measures and development policies.

An executive summary of the report is already available in Turkish, pending a full translation.

The parliamentary Child Rights Monitoring website

Messages sent to the new website will be treated confidentially, and no message will be left without a reply. Where urgent action is required, information will be passed on the relevant public authority. The parliamentary Child Rights Monitoring Committee will use the information gathered through the website in its regular work, and in the publication of a twice-yearly child rights monitoring report.

Children without access to the Internet can reach the Committee by telephone or by sending SMS messages. Meanwhile, the website also provides simple and comprehensive access to legislation and other official documents concerning children. Its contents are to be updated continuously in both Turkish and English.

The website was conceived during consultations between the Committee and adolescents from the provincial child rights commissions. An advisory board made up of 16 children was closely involved in its development. Two members of this board, Günalp Çakır and Ayşe Gizem Birkan, addressed the ceremony in Parliament. “We are grateful to you for including us in an effort that will be an example for the rest of the world,” Çakır told the Committee members.

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