AMERICA/MEXICO - Members of parliament from almost 140 countries promise to protect children: “Handbook for Parliamentarians on Child Protection” presented at 110th International Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union IPU.

Thursday, 22 April 2004

Mexico City (Fides Service) - During the 110th International Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union IPU, in Mexico City 18-23 April, UNICEF Ambassador Jessica Lange launched a “Handbook for Parliamentarians on Child Protection,” a joint UNICEF/IPU (Inter-Parliamentary Union) report. The Inter-Parliamentary Union was formed in 1889. Today it brings together members of parliament of 138 countries. It helps to promote protection and respect of human rights
The “Handbook for Parliamentarians on Child Protection,” a joint UNICEF/IPU (Inter-Parliamentary Union) report gives important information on the situation of children in the world. About 1.5 million children in central and eastern European countries are state wards; 13 million children have lost their parents through AIDS; Some 40 million children below the age of 15 suffer from abuse and neglect; An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked every year; Approximately 246 million children work, with about 180 million engaged in the worst forms of child labour; At any given time over 300,000 child soldiers, some as young as eight, are exploited in armed conflicts in over 30 countries. More than 2 million children are estimated to have died as a direct result of armed conflicts during the 1990s; And 2 million children are believed to be exploited through prostitution and pornography.
Presenting the handbook Ms. Lange said . “Parliamentarians have the power to alleviate the suffering of millions of children around the world, if only they would use it." Lange called on parliamentarians to ask tough questions and demand answers about why children continue to suffer from violence, exploitation and abuse within their country. She urged parliamentarians to use their power of inquiry to understand why the exploitation was not prevented and who should be held accountable.
The handbook will be distributed to 140 countries and it is hoped that it will be translated into local languages in order to help parliamentarians mobilise public opinion and governments and private institutions to work to change the tragic situation of millions of children. The handbook gives parliamentarians practical tips on how to achieve the necessary changes.
1) Use the power of legislation to adopt and enforce strong laws that protect children from exploitation, allow children’s voices to be heard and hold perpetrators accountable.
2) Use the power of budgetary oversight to ensure that child protection receives adequate resources, funding and attention from all parts of government.
3) Use the power of parliamentary inquiry to hold governments and institutions accountable. (R.Z.) (Agenzia Fides 22/4/2004; righe 37 parole 495)