In resolution A/HRC/RES/13/20 adopted by the Human Rights Council on 26 March 2010 entitled “Rights of the child: the fight against sexual violence against children” the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children are invited to report to the Council at its sixteenth session on effective and child-sensitive counselling, complaint and reporting mechanisms to which children can safely report incidents of violence, including sexual violence and exploitation. The Human Rights Council invited them in doing so, to cooperate with other relevant partners such as the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict and the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, States, National Human Rights Institutions and ombudspersons for children, United Nations agencies, regional organizations, civil society organizations and children themselves. (para. 18).
As part of the preparation of the report, a consultation with selected experts will be organized by OHCHR and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children. The consultation will take place on Thursday 30 September and Friday 1st October.
The UN Study on Violence against Children recommended the creation of accessible and child-friendly reporting systems and services. It recommended States to establish safe, well-publicized, confidential and accessible mechanisms for children, their representatives and others to report violence against children. All children, including those in school, care and justice institutions, should be aware of the existence of mechanisms of counseling and complaint. Mechanisms such as victim counseling, support and reporting offices and free telephone help lines, through which children can access information and advice, report abuse and speak to a trained counselor in confidence should be established. The creation of other ways of reporting violence, including through new technologies should be considered. The Committee on the Rights of the Child, in its General Comment no. 2 (2002) encourages State Parties to establish independent institutions for the promotion and monitoring of the implementation of the Convention. The institution, whatever its form, should be able, independently and effectively, to monitor, promote and protect children’s rights.
With this in mind, the consultation is aimed, inter alia, at exchanging experiences and providing input to the report requested to the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children by the Human Rights Council. It is also a follow up activity to the UN Study on Violence against Children.
In particular the consultation will:
Aim at providing an overview of the different models of accessible and child-friendly counseling, complaint and reporting mechanisms established at governmental level and by independent institutions and civil society organizations.
Draw attention to challenges and good practices in the use of such mechanisms (i.e help lines, child clubs, confidential counseling, national independent human rights institutions, and ombudspersons for children) by children and their representatives, particularly issues of accessibility, confidentiality, knowledge about rights, child participation, safeguard of privacy and protection of victims of violence, including sexual violence and exploitation.
Identify obligations, roles and responsibilities of different actors at different levels (community, district, national and international level) including Governments, law enforcement officials, judges, social workers, teachers, doctors, ombudspersons, civil society, internet service providers, faith leaders, etc.
Make recommendations as to how to develop and strengthen effective child-friendly violence counseling, referral and reporting mechanisms, respecting the rights of the child and offering children the necessary protection (including the protection of their privacy, and avoiding the risk of re-victimization and reprisals) independently of the setting where violence occurs (home and family, educational, care and detention settings, the workplace and the community).
Format and participants
The consultation will last one and a half days (Thursday 30 September and Friday 1st October 2010). It will bring together around 20 experts with demonstrated experience and knowledge about counselling, complaints and reporting mechanisms, including Government representatives, representatives of United Nations Agencies, members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Ombudspersons for Children, and NHRI. The consultation will take into consideration perspectives and recommendations arising from the questionnaire sent to Governments, UN Agencies and NHRIs. It will also consider recommendations made by children and young people on the subject. The consultation is open to member states.