|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
PRESS CONFERENCE ON SECRETARY-GENERAL’S STUDY ON VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN
Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, an Independent Expert appointed by the Secretary-General to lead a United Nations study on Violence Against Children and prepare a report, told correspondents at a Headquarters press conference this afternoon that he was happy to see more countries demonstrating “an attitude of non-denial” regarding the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the “gaps” in its implementation.
The report, which is still being drafted by Mr. Pinheiro’s team, will be based on the responses of 122 Governments to a questionnaire prepared by the report’s authors, as well as on the outcomes of nine regional consultative studies conducted around the world between March and July 2005. The report will provide an analysis of violence against children in five settings: the home; institutional settings such as orphanages; schools and other educational settings; the community and its streets; and the workplace.
Mr. Pinheiro said he was impressed by the thoroughness of the responses submitted by Governments. He also noted that, in preparing the study, formal and informal discussions were held with 400 adolescents who took part in the consultations on an equal footing with members of Governments, non-governmental organizations and academics.
Three days ago, Mr. Pinheiro said he met Lee Jong-wook, Executive Director of the World Health Organization; Ann Venneman, Executive Director of UNICEF, and Louise Arbour, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to discuss the formation of a set of recommendations. While Member States would also be engaged in the preparation of those recommendations, Mr. Pinheiro stressed the need for United Nations agencies and regional organizations to develop a vision on how to implement them. “We did not want just to give Member States a packet of recommendations”, he said.
Also speaking at the press conference was Abigail McIntyre, President of the Youth Arm of the Grenada National Coalition on the Rights of the Child. Ms. McIntyre told correspondents that in 2005, 5 per cent of those arrested for violent crimes in Grenada were under the age of 25.
“Violence stems from a complex interaction of individuals with their environment in particular times in their lives”, she said. “To understand why some young people become involved in violence, there is a need for more research into the areas from pre-natal factors to factors influencing whether patterns of violent behaviour in adolescence will persist into adulthood.”
She said the Caribbean regional consultation, which was held in Trinidad in March 2005, called for the prohibition and eradication of the use of corporal punishment, including whipping, in the juvenile justice system. Participants at the consultation also stressed the need for measures to combat child abuse, including sexual abuse; public education campaigns to counter the ill-treatment of children; and the promotion of non-violent forms of discipline as an alternative to corporal punishment.
She added that countries participating in the Caribbean regional consultation had launched an “Exchange Movement”, whose objective was to create a violence-free environment for children in the home, school and community. The impetus behind the Movement came from concern for the rising level of violence perpetrated by and against children in the region. So far, the Movement had been successful in establishing community-based groups focused on capacity building, parental guidance and mentoring.
Responding to a question about attitudes in the Middle East towards violence against children, a region that the questioner said was “traditionally vague about some of their statistics”, Mr. Pinheiro said the presence of Middle Eastern countries at the Cairo consultations was outstanding in terms of their participation in the debate and in the documents they prepared. He also visited Israel and the Palestinian Territories and was impressed by that region’s support of the issue.
Addressing a question on whether the recommendations will take cultural differences into account, Mr. Pinheiro emphasized that the study was not based solely on situations of developed countries and that it took pains to address the situations faced by countries of the South. Indeed, he said, the purpose of holding consultations around the world was to understand, in detail, the specific aspects of each region in line with the study’s regional approach. However, he noted that the report would ultimately be guided by universal standards.
Asked to name the six worst perpetrators of violence against children, Mr. Pinheiro said the study did not produce rankings of any kind. He explained that such rankings may produce alienating effects. “If you want Member States on board, we have to guarantee their cooperation”, he said.
He continued, “In every country, there are grey zones. No country in the world can say that they have no problems regarding violence against children”, adding that this fact was confirmed by the study. But he said he sensed “a lot” of political will in every country to deal with the issue, from Government ministries and non-governmental organizations.
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