Call for inputs on upcoming country visit to Bulgaria (1 to 8 April 2019)

Introduction

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, including child prostitution, child pornography and other child sexual abuse material, Ms. Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, will conduct an official country visit to Bulgaria from 1 to 8 April 2019 at the invitation of the government. The objective is to assess the human rights situation under the scope of the mandate and to issue specific recommendations to improve the protection of children and their rights.

Who is the Special Rapporteur?

The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Special Rapporteurs are selected on the basis of their expertise and experience in the area of their mandate, personal integrity, independence and impartiality and objectivity. In 1990, international awareness about the commercial sexual exploitation and the sale of children led to the appointment of a United Nations Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography through resolution 1990/68 of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. It mandated the Special Rapporteur to investigate the exploitation of children around the world and to submit reports to the General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights, making recommendations for the protection of the rights of the children concerned. The mandate on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography has been regularly renewed since then. It is the only mandate of the UN Special procedures system with an exclusive focus on children. In its resolution 7/13, the Human Rights Council mandated the Special Rapporteur, in particular through visits and exchange of communications with Governments, to, inter alia:

  • analyse the root causes of the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography;
  • address all the contributing factors, including demand;
  • identify new patterns of sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography;
  • identify, exchange and promote best practices on measures to combat the sale and sexual exploitation of children;
  • promote comprehensive strategies and measures to prevent the sale and sexual exploitation of children;
  • make recommendations on the promotion and protection of human rights of children, actual or potential victims, as well as on the rehabilitation of child victims of sale and sexual exploitation;
  • integrate a gender perspective throughout the work of the mandate.

The mandate on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography is also guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. The mandate examines issues, trends and effects relating to the sexual exploitation of children online; sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism, including in the context of major sports events; child prostitution, child pornography and child trafficking for sale and sexual exploitation; and sale of children for the purpose of illegal adoption, transfer of organs, child marriage and forced labour. The recommendations of the Special Rapporteur are targeted primarily at Governments, United Nations bodies, the business sector and non-governmental organizations.

The current Special Rapporteur, Ms. Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, was appointed in March 2014 by Human Rights Council resolution 25/6, for a three-year period, and her mandate was renewed in March 2017 for an additional three-year term.

For more information about the mandate and the issues in focus, please see United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. 25 Years of fighting the Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children: Addressing New Challenges: /Documents/Issues/Children/SR/25YearsMandate.pdf and /Documents/Issues/Children/SR/FactSheetMandate_en.pdf. The child-friendly version is available at: /Documents/Issues/Children/SR/BookletChildFriendly_en.pdf.

The purpose of country visit

Fact-finding missions or country visits are an opportunity for the Special Rapporteur to assess the human rights situation in a given country and more specifically the state of child rights and child protection systems. During a country visit, the Rapporteur will aim to meet all the concerned stakeholders ranging from national and local authorities, which include the executive, legislative and judicial branches; members of civil society; child rights and protection non-governmental organisations and experts; children; as well as the United Nations and other inter-governmental agencies. A country visit is always concluded by a press conference in order to present the preliminary findings of the mission. Country visits are undertaken following an invitation by the Government and are prepared and conducted in close cooperation with the State concerned. In preparation of the mission, the Special Rapporteur seeks relevant information from multiple stakeholders. Following a country visit, the Special Rapporteur presents a report with her findings, conclusions and recommendations to the State concerned at the Human Rights Council session. The conclusions and recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur are a particularly useful tool for States to improve measures to prevent and eliminate the sale and sexual exploitation of children, and to strengthen their national child protection systems. Special Rapporteurs conduct two to three country visits per year, for a duration of generally one to two weeks. Information about countries visited by the Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation.

Call for written submissions

The Special Rapporteur invites all interested individuals and organizations, including civil society organizations, activists, and academics, to provide input for the preparation of her visit. She would welcome information on issues related to the sale and sexual exploitation of children and violations having led to it, such as sale and trafficking; the sale of children for purposes of use in criminal activities, armed conflict, begging, forced labour, sports, adoption, marriage, transfer of organs, or other purposes; the exploitation of children for sexual purposes in travel and tourism; the possession, production and dissemination of child abuse material, which includes visual and non-visual depictions; the grooming or solicitation of a child, which involves conditioning a child to ensure he or she agrees to engage in sexual activity.

While all submissions are welcome and the questions below are not meant to be exhaustive, the Special Rapporteur would be grateful for inputs that address topics such as:

  • The nature, scope and magnitude of sale and sexual exploitation of children;
  • The root causes and contributing factors of the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, including demand for the sale and sexual exploitation of children;
  • New patterns of sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography;
  • The major challenges confronting the fight against sale and sexual exploitation of children;
  • Children disproportionately impacted by the phenomena of sale and sexual exploitation, including minorities and children living in rural areas;
  • The Special Rapporteur will also adopt a gender-sensitive approach to her visit and would also appreciate receiving information related to the protection afforded to girls and boys and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and intersex persons;
  • Best practices on measures to combat the sale and sexual exploitation of children;
  • Provision of comprehensive care, recovery and rehabilitation for child victims of sale and sexual exploitation;
  • Information and communication technologies facilitating the sale and sexual exploitation of children;
  • Sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism;
  • Surrogacy and sale of children;
  • Illegal adoptions;
  • Potential areas to visit such as regions, provinces, districts, towns or communities the Special Rapporteur should visit because of specific problems relating to sale and sexual exploitation of children in Bulgaria;
  • Relevant organisations and individuals to meet during the Special Rapporteur's visit to Bulgaria.

Please send your input in Word format by email to srsaleofchildren@ohchr.org before 15 March 2019.

Please note that the Special Rapporteur is also open to receiving input via browser-based encrypted email. Please contact the Special Rapporteur and her team via srsaleofchildren@ohchr.org about how to further communicate via encrypted email. Please limit submissions to a maximum of 2,500 words. Reports, academic studies and other types of background materials can be attached as an annex to the submission. All inputs will be treated confidentially by the Special Rapporteur and her team and for the sole purpose of preparing for the county visit.

The Special Rapporteur greatly appreciates the effort that goes into making such contributions and looks forward to reading the submissions.


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Contact us

Ms. Maud de Boer-Buquicchio
Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations at Geneva
814 ave de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
Fax: (+41 22) 917 90 06

Email: srsaleofchildren@ohchr.org