Defence For Children International Holds Annual Meetings: Calls on International Community for More Efforts and Accountability on Child Rights

(Geneva, September 7, 2018) – This week, the International Executive Council (IEC) of the Defence for Children International (DCI) Movement met in Geneva, Switzerland for its annual strategy meetings. The IEC was joined for two days by DCI’s Advisory Committee* — child rights experts from around the world who advise the Movement on key strategic issues.

The IEC is composed of one President, four Vice-Presidents which represent each region, a Treasurer and two Councillors, and currently stands as follows:

President: Abdul Manaff Kemokai Vice-President Europe: Geraldine Mathieu
Treasurer: Aloys Van Rest Vice-President MENA: Khaled Quzmar
Vice-President Africa: Nirmal Busgopaul Councillor: Vilma Gomez Pava
Vice President Americas: Juan Fumeiro Councillor: Arwa Al-Fakih

 

The IEC also meets with staff of DCI’s International Secretariat (Alex Kamarotos, Executive Director; Helen Griffiths, Advocacy Officer; and Paula Trujillo, Project Officer) as well as Julia Mirad, staff of DCI’s World Service Foundation.

The meetings were fruitful and engaging, allowing the participants to hold in-depth discussions on the state of the Movement, current challenges, and success.

“The purpose of these meetings,” said Mr. Abdul Manaff Kemokai, President of the Movement, “is to meet, brainstorm, and strategize. They allow us to exchange ideas on how best to promote and protect children’s rights, and to empower children to defend their own rights.”

These meetings also come at a crucial point for children’s rights and the context of international politics. In Palestine, attacks on civilians, including children, continue to take place. So far this year, DCI-Palestine has documented 37 deaths of children, and continues to monitor the detention of children by Israeli authorities. In Yemen, children remain at risk with recent attacks resulting in dozens of deaths of children. The grave situation of children in Yemen was highlighted in the recent report from Group of Eminent Regional and International Experts (EEG) including that possible war crimes have been committed by all parties to the conflict. It also highlighted a number of violations against children, including child recruitment, attacks on civilians, including children, and use of schools as detention centres. In Colombia, it was reported that since the start of the year, more than 26 landmines and explosive remnants have been reported near schools resulting in more than 3,400 children being forced out of school as classes have been suspended. Furthermore, children are at risk of being recruited again by illegal armed groups that did not join the peace agreement. In the European Union, there were more than 31,000 unaccompanied children among all asylum seekers registered in 2017.  Finally, the harmful effects of Australia’s off-shore processing policy are visible in the more than 110 refugee and asylum-seeking children in Nauru, some of whom have attempted suicide.

The current issues accompanying increased global migration, including the impact and implications for children on the move, were recurring topics throughout the week. We see these challenges in every region where DCI is present: MENA, Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe. DCI works with children on the move in many different contexts around the world including Syrian refugee children in Lebanon, internally-displaced children in Yemen and Iraq, and potential, current, and former victims of child trafficking in Ghana, Guinea-Conakry, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. National Sections also work on the situation of migrant, asylum-seeking and refugee children arriving and travelling through Europe, particularly in Greece, Italy, and Belgium, which recently reintroduced a policy on detention of migrant children along with their families.

It is also important to note that human rights defenders themselves, including organizations such as DCI, are operating in increasingly difficult situations, and are often the victim of reprisals and restrictions on their activities.

“Right now, the political climate is challenging, and children’s rights are neglected around the world. The international community needs to take the lead to protect children. This starts with the prevention of violations of the rights of children and extends to empowering children to become advocates for their own rights. Furthermore, where violations occur, accountability should be guaranteed. When all of these elements come together, only then will we make true progress on all levels for children around the world,” said Abdul Manaff Kemokai.

One of the key themes through discussion this week was DCI’s flagship project, the United Nations Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, for which DCI co-convenes the NGO Panel supporting the Study. 2018 is the year of implementation for the Study, with governments and civil society from around the world responding to the questionnaire sent out by the Independent Expert leading the Study, Professor Manfred Nowak. This has been accompanied by regional and thematic consultations and briefings taking place in Bangkok, Thailand, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Paris, France, and Pretoria, South Africa. In October, DCI-Uruguay, in partnership with the Uruguayan government, and with the support of the DCI International Secretariat, will co-host an Americas consultation.

“2018 has already been an exciting and busy year for the DCI Movement,” said Mr. Alex Kamarotos, Director of the International Secretariat, “and we continue to strengthen our work at all levels: national, regional, and international. Ahead of our 40th anniversary of DCI and the 30th of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child next year, I am thrilled to see the progress we are making and the continued development of the Movement while major challenges remain in the implementation of the rights of the child worldwide.”

For any information regarding this Press Release, you can contact Alex Kamarotos +33 60 702 86 41

*Nigel Cantwell, Christine Cornwell, Jaap Doek, Moushira Khattab, Rosa Maria Ortiz, and Meskerem Geset Techane