TEGUCIGALPA (25 April 2014) – “The Government of Honduras must urgently adopt measures to effectively protect children, without discrimination, from all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation,” urged the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Najat Maalla M’jid.
Two years after her first official visit, the Special Rapporteur noted that there are numerous child victims of sexual exploitation and abuse, early pregnancy, sale, trafficking and child labour. “Even though de number of complaints has increased, it still does not reflect the real scope of the phenomenon,” stated the independent expert.
“Many children are at risk of falling victims of exploitation and abuse because the same risk factors that I signalled two years ago persist,” stated the Special Rapporteur. Among these factors she highlighted poverty, unemployment, insecurity, violence and proliferation of firearms, migration, and social tolerance.
“Since my visit in 2012, some of the recommendations that I made have been implemented, such as the adoption of the reform of legislation on family and children,” said Ms Maalla M’jid. However, she recalled that the passing of the law on adoption and the ratification of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption are still pending.
The Special Rapporteur indicated that some of the good practices that she observed in 2012, such as the unit on commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Children, continue to operate and are expanding. However, she also noted with concern certain regression, such as the dismantling of the special police unit on trafficking, and the termination of the national complaints hotline known as “Breaking the Silence”. The Special Rapporteur urged national authorities to re-establish both.
The independent expert stressed that the protection provided by the State to child victims continued to be insufficient due to multiple gaps in the comprehensive care services. Likewise, she noted with grave concern the institutionalization of children identified as vulnerable or at risk by the Honduran Institute for Children and the Family (IHNFA).
“The lack of coordination and follow-up persist,” stressed the Special Rapporteur while signalling the numerous and disperse plans and programmes undertaken, with lack of continuity and impact assessment. “They do not take into account all necessary aspects to ensure the comprehensive protection of children, including risk factors,” she added.
In this regard, the Special Rapporteur urged national authorities to designate, as a matter of priority, the entity responsible for coordinating the implementation of a comprehensive child protection system, in the terms established by the bill on the Office of the Children’s Advocate of 2012.
The Special Rapporteur noted with concern the Government’s initiative “Guardians of the homeland”, which tasks armed forces with training vulnerable children in values.
“The best way to combat violence and insecurity is by offering vulnerable children and families sustainable alternatives,” stressed the independent expert. In addition, she reiterated the need to review the Act on the Control of Firearms with a view to clamping down on the carrying of firearms.
During her five-day visit to Tegucigalpa, Ms Maalla M’jid held meetings with national authorities in charge of the prevention and combat of sale and sexual exploitation of children, representatives of the government, judiciary and congress dealing with children and human rights, justice, security and social policy issues.
Ms Maalla M’jid also held meetings with civil society actors, UN agencies and donors. She met with the recently appointed National Human Rights Commissioner, and visited two centres for children run by IHNFA and Casa Alianza charity. The Special Rapporteur visited the country at the invitation of the Government.
Ms Maalla M’jid welcomed the adoption of the National Policy and Action Plan on Human Rights, which incorporates all international recommendations concerning protection of children’s rights. However, she urged the Government to bring the plan together with a child protection strategy and the allocation of adequate resources.
The visit’s findings and recommendations will be presented in a comprehensive report to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2015.
Najat Maalla M’jid was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography in May 2008 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. As Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Children/Pages/ChildrenIndex.aspx
UN Human Rights, Country page – Honduras: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/LACRegion/Pages/HNIndex.aspx
The Convention on the Rights of the Child: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx
The three Optional Protocols:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/OPSCCRC.aspx / http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/OPACCRC.aspx / http://treaties.un.org/doc/source/signature/2012/CTC_4-11d.pdf
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