Press Release – Violence as This Year’s Theme of the United Nations Universal Children’s Day

for immediate release
Geneva, Switzerland
15 November 2013

November 20th will mark Universal Children’s Day – as established by the United Nations. It is an opportunity to bring into the forefront the rights of the child and to raise awareness on the challenges that have still to be overcome. This date also marks the anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the Declaration on the Rights of the Child (1959) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).

This year, the theme for the Universal Children’s Day is violence. Violence can take many forms, it can be physical as well as psychological (such as abuse, neglect, ill-treatment and exploitation); all of them have lasting negative effects on the well-being and development of children. It is estimated that millions of children around the world are victims of violence, without sparing any cultural, economic or social background.

It is one of DCI’s priorities to address the issue of violence against children within the justice system. DCI is mostly concerned by the excessive use of deprivation of liberty of children as a primary solution, rather than a measure of last resort (as stipulated by international laws and standards). Pre-trial detention is an issue of particular concern, as it often lasts months or years, and is also the period when the human rights of children are the most susceptible to be violated. They are often victims of torture ( be it physical or psychological) and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, including sexual violence. In addition, the conditions of detention of children are too often alarming: being held with adults, in overcrowded cells, and having their basic human rights violated. In some cases, even the right to life is denied, as in certain States, child offenders can still lawfully be sentenced to the death penalty.

DCI is an active member of the International NGO Council on Violence against Children (InCO) which is working to ensure that the recommendations contained in the UN World Report on Violence against Children (2006) are implemented by States worldwide. The latest report of InCo provides valuable advice in view of “creating a non-violent juvenile justice system”, recalling the obligations that States have, the ways in which flaws of juvenile justice systems perpetuate violence against children, and proposing a reform of these systems.

“Ending violence against children is a matter of urgency (…); no violence against children is justifiable; all violence against children is preventable. There should be no more excuses or delays (…)” – World Report on Violence against Children (2006)


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