Child rights in the agenda ASEAN civil society conference
CRC Asia together with the NGO Committee for the Rights of the Child (NGO CRC) organized the child rights workshop during the 2012 ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF).The workshop’s theme was “Ensuring Child Rights in the ASEAN Agenda” and served as a venue for civil society groups and children to express their concerns and recommendations for ASEAN.
The workshop entailed presentation presentations concerning child rights governance, violence against children and access of children to justice. A child representative of the Child Advocate Network (CAN), a children-led movement in Cambodia, presented the statement of Cambodian children to ASEAN.
During her presentation on child rights governance, Ms. Eva Maria Cayanan, Regional Adviser of Save the Children Sweden, stressed that children’s rights are human rights and that they should be given significant attention in all civil society discussions. She stressed the critical role of civil society organizations in ensuring government’s accountability to protect, promote and fulfil children’s rights. According to her, civil society has a role to play to make transparent and participatory decision-making processes within ASEAN to determine whether these comply with international child rights standards.
Ms. Irene Fellizar, Regional Representative of the NGO Advisory Group for the Follow-up of the UN Study on Violence Against Children, highlighted the progress and the persistent challenges concerning violence against children in Southeast Asia. Among the progress she mentioned were the stronger engagement of civil society groups with the ASEAN Commission for the Protection and Promotion for the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) to put forward a regional programme in addressing VAC. She also mentioned that spaces for children’s participation are becoming more visible and accessible. However, there remains to be challenges such as the lack of legislations in many countries banning corporal punishment, and the absence of mechanisms where children can report incidences of violence.
Mr. Aung Myo Min of the Asia Against Child Trafficking (Asia ACTS) shared the results of a regional research concerning access of trafficked children to justice. In the region, he mentioned that children face various obstacles that hinder them to fully realize their right to justice such as lack of education and awareness about the right to justice amongst children and their families, lack of resources amongst victims to pursue costly legal processes, and the hostile court environment that may pose fear and stress to children victims. Mr. Myo Min urged the ASEAN to ensure that children’s right to access justice are guaranteed.
Ms. Nhok Chin, the Secretary of the Child Advocate Network, shared in Khmer language the statement of Cambodian children that was prepared by around 36 leaders and members of children’s organizations from 19 provinces in Cambodia. The statement was produced during a children’s preparatory process entitled “Listen to Children for Children in ASEAN Community” that was organized by NGO CRC from 17 to 18 March 2012.
The statement stressed that children are part of the “ASEAN Community” and have the right to participate. The statement identified the key recommendations to ASEAN including the strengthening of monitoring and reporting mechanisms, to establish a support mechanisms for children in emergency situations, to strengthen work to prevent and protect children from discrimination and marginalization due to disability, gender, ethnicity, health conditions and other status, and to come up with policies and provide resources to make schools safe and friendly to children.
During the presentation, children expressed concern that they are being discriminated during the discussions together with other adult representatives from civil society organizations.
There workshop involved around 80 participants from various local and regional organizations. There were also around 30 children from various provinces of Cambodia. The workshop was facilitated by Ms. Magdalena Sitorus, the Chairperson of SAPA Indonesia and a member of CRC Asia.
Published on 13 Apr 2012