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Council hears presentations of reports on the rights to privacy and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography

Human Rights Council
AFTERNOON

 7 March 2017

The Human Rights Council this afternoon heard the presentation of reports by the Special Rapporteur on the rights to privacy Joseph Cannataci, and by the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography Maud de Boer-Buiquicchio.

In his presentation, Mr. Cannataci said his report focused on government surveillance activities.  Governmental surveillance deserved more attention than ever, and he was deeply concerned that the right to privacy would not experience a full transition to the digital age.  If the international community continued on the path it was on, civil liberties and freedoms would be sacrificed for a notion of security that would remain incomplete and fragile, he warned.  Unfortunately, the status of the right to privacy had not improved since the mandate’s last report to the Human Rights Council.  Nonetheless, it was plausible that a significant number of States would eventually coalesce around a legal instrument that would regulate surveillance and protect privacy in cyberspace.

Ms. De Boer-Buiquicchio said her study focused on illegal adoptions and the sale of children that occurred at the national and international levels through the commission of illegal acts and illicit practices.  She highlighted four elements which encouraged practices that perpetuated a context favourable to illegal adoption: the pressure of demand, financial transactions, the role of intermediaries, and the recourse to countries of origin that had not ratified the 1993 Hague Convention.  Both States of origin and receiving States had to acknowledge the gravity of the situation and assume their responsibility.  Intercountry adoptions were governed by two principles: the principle of subsidiarity and the prohibition of improper financial gain.  That meant that all appropriate national alternative care solutions had to be considered in the child’s country of origin before resorting to intercountry adoption.  She spoke about her country visit to Georgia

The Human Rights Council will resume its work on Wednesday, 8 March, at 9 a.m. when it will hear the presentation of the annual report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, followed by the continuation of the clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights to privacy, and the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.  It will then hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, health and sustainable environment, and with the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, followed by the panel discussion on access to medicines.    

Documentation

The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to privacy (A/HRC/34/60).

The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography(A/HRC/34/55).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography – mission to Georgia (A/HRC/34/55/Add.1).

The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography – comments by Georgia (A/HRC/34/55/Add.2).

Presentation of Reports

JOSEPH CANNATACI, Special Rapporteur on the rights to privacy, presented his report which focused on government surveillance activities from a national and international perspective.  He said working groups had been set up to tackle the issues of “Big Data and Open Data” and “Health Data”, and on the issue of “personal data held by corporations”, and consultations had begun with leading actors in this area.  He reviewed planned events in the area of bettering understanding of privacy, which included meetings in Tunisia and in the Netherlands, and said the key idea was to explore the notions of privacy.  Many of the findings presented in his report resulted of meetings held in Romania and Belgium.  Governmental surveillance deserved more attention than ever, and he was deeply concerned, he said, that the right to privacy would not experience a full transition to the digital age.  If the international community continued on the path it was on, civil liberties and freedoms would be sacrificed for a notion of security which would remain incomplete and fragile.  The status of the right to privacy had not improved since his mandate’s last report to the Human Rights Council.  Surveillance-related activity was one of the principal considerations when requesting formal country visits, he said, noting that he had chosen to visit the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and “South Korea”.  Each visit would include requests to meet with intelligence services, oversight authorities, and others.

There was a need to find a positive way forward, he said, adding that there was an emergence of several themes in the area of governmental surveillance.  Those themes included the need to be less secretive and more proactive in explaining the work of secret services and law enforcement authorities when carrying out surveillance, among many others themes, which his report had elaborated on.  He had five distinct recommendations to make, which dealt with why populism and privacy were inimical to security, how States could engage to improve privacy protection through better oversight of intelligence, who deserved to enjoy the right to privacy (i.e. everyone, everywhere), how the right to privacy could be better protected through developments in international law, and finally when some developments in international law could benefit from a wider discussion.  States should prepare themselves to ensure that both domestically and internationally, privacy should be respected as a truly universal right.  What the world needed was not more “State-sponsored shenanigans on the Internet” but rational, civilised agreement about appropriate State behaviour in cyberspace.  It was both plausible and reasonable that a significant number of States would eventually coalesce around a legal instrument which would regulate surveillance and protect privacy in cyberspace.  That would be good for citizens, good for governments, good for privacy, and good for business.

MAUD DE BOER-BUIQUICCHIO, Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, encouraged States of the Asian region to respond positively to her requests for visits.  Since 1990 the mandate had been tasked with addressing the problem of the adoption of children for commercial purposes.  Her study focused on illegal adoptions and the sale of children that occurred at the national and international levels through the commission of illegal acts and illicit practices.  All actors were driven by the lucrative business of illegal adoptions and the complete impunity for those crimes only served to fuel that scourge.  One of the key principles that had to govern adoption processes, both at the domestic and intercountry level, was the best interest of the child.  That principle was breached when the purpose was to find a child for adoptive parents rather than a family for the child.  Intercountry adoptions were governed by two principles: the principle of subsidiarity and the prohibition of improper financial gain.  That meant that all appropriate national alternative care solutions had to be considered in the child’s country of origin before resorting to intercountry adoption.   Her study highlighted four elements which encouraged practices that perpetuated a context favourable to illegal adoption: the pressure of demand, financial transactions, the role of intermediaries, and the recourse to countries of origin that had not ratified the 1993 Hague Convention.  Both States of origin and receiving States had to acknowledge the gravity of the situation and assume their responsibility.

As for her visit to Georgia, Ms. De Boer-Buiquicchio commended the progress made to better protect children from abuse, violence and exploitation.  However, certain issues of concern remained.  Internal commercial surrogacy arrangements had increased steadily and without comprehensive regulation that protected the rights of all vulnerable parties.  There was also a persisting plight of children living or working on the street.  Child sexual exploitation was not sufficiently investigated and prosecuted.  Ms. De Boer-Buiquicchio encouraged the Government to fully accomplish the deinstitutionalization process of children with disabilities and to stop outsourcing the provision of support services.       

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