|(Geneva, 08 October, 2018) – The International Secretariat of the Defence for Children International Movement (DCI-IS) actively engaged in the 79th session of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) from 17-28 September, 2018.
In the opening session, the importance of the UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty was highlighted, and Mr Marcelo Daher, from the Office of the High Commissioner, briefed the Committee that the Study is on track and will be presented to the United Nations General Assembly in October 2019. DCI as co-convener of the NGO Panel for the UN Global Study – together with Human Rights Watch –supports the advocacy and implementation of the Study as well as NGOs’ participation in all stages.
During the session, the Committee reviewed the reports submitted under the Convention on the Rights of the Child of Mauritania, El Salvador, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Niger.
DCI-IS followed the review of Mauritania’s child rights record. DCI-IS and DCI-Mauritania actively participated and advocated for the rights of children in the country and presented a report at the pre-sessional stage. The discussion focused on birth registration, juvenile justice, child and early forced marriage, children with disabilities, and refugee children – all topics that DCI works on.
In addition, DCI-IS actively engaged during the Day of General Discussion (DGD) of the CRC on 28 September dedicated to the topic “Protecting and Empowering Children as Human Rights Defenders.” Since its creation in 1979, DCI has believed that children must be able to pursue a life in which they can exercise and enjoy their human rights with dignity, in a just and responsible society as well as defend the rights of others. In this regard, DCI-IS is committed to continue empowering and supporting children human rights defenders (CHRDs) around the world.
During the DGD, DCI-IS attended the Working Group on Children Human Rights Defenders and Online Spaces, which focused on child-led initiatives and protection online as well as the empowering nature of digital media, with particular sessions also regarding indigenous child human rights defenders and CHRDs with disabilities. We also participated in the group on states actors which featured discussions on CHRDs in alternative care, the role of Children’s Parliaments, and national protection measures, among others.
Moreover, DCI-IS alongside DCI-Netherlands and DCI-Sierra Leone in the framework of the Girls Advocacy Alliance (GAA) supported a girl human rights defender, Mellicentia Boateng, and a woman human rights defender, Hawanatu Mansaray, from Sierra Leone to participate in the DGD. The GAA is a 5 year advocacy programme that various National Sections of DCI contribute to, which promotes gender equality and equal rights and opportunities for girls and young women, focusing on the elimination of gender-based violence and the economic empowerment of girls and young women in 10 countries in Africa and Asia.
Mellicentia Boateng, a 17-year-old girl, participated as a child speaker during the DGD dialogue on the “Empowerment of girls rights defenders.” She is part of a local organization called Action for Youth and Children’s Network (AYCN) aimed at combating gender-based violence against girls and women. An active member of this organization, Mellicentia has led several youth campaigns against school harassment, child marriage, teenage pregnancies, sexual abuse, and female genital mutilation (FGM). During the dialogue, Mellicentia shared her experience and exposed the challenges of being a child human rights defender in Sierra Leone as well as her perspective on what would enable more girls to become defenders of their rights and the rights of others.
At the end of her speech, Mellicentia reminded the assistance of Kofi Annan by saying that “we are never too young to lead and they are never too old to learn.”