By Norberto Liwski
When on 26 November 2007 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 20 February of each year as World Day of Social Justice, in accordance with this commemoration it was recognized that Social Development and Social Justice are indispensable for the achievement and maintenance of Peace and Security within and between nations and that in turn, Social Development and Social Justice cannot be achieved if there is no Peace and Security and if all Human Rights are not respected.
Increased inequality and poverty, on this new anniversary marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, have made it even more important to move towards fairer and more caring societies, with a necessary review of the structural factors that determine it.
This implies a great challenge for States, whose policies must make the concept of equity prevail, abandoning economic schemes that determine that a few accumulate a lot of wealth, while many human beings suffer from poverty.
Children and adolescents are usually the most visible face of poverty and extreme poverty, and as the pandemic exposes the myriad of rights violated, the States that have ratified the Convention must bring their development plans into line with article 4 of the treaty:
“States Parties shall undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognised in the present Convention. With regard to economic, social and cultural rights, States Parties shall undertake such measures to the maximum extent of their available resources and, where needed, within the framework of international cooperation”.
Since its foundation in 1986, the Argentinean section of Defence for Children International has set the horizon of social justice as its priority agenda.
This path is built on direct, close, and committed contact with children and adolescents from poor neighborhoods, migrants, indigenous peoples, children in conflict with the law, victims of all forms of violence. Children have also accompanied a participatory process to the construction of their own communities.
In this framework, we carried out the programme “Registration and Prevention of Institutional Violence against Children and Adolescents” with the collaboration of La Poderosa, Los Curas Villeros, and Unicef Argentina, in which more than 200 cases of institutional violence were registered between June 2019 and June 2020, and psychosocial and legal support was provided to the survivors and their families.
DCI found racially motivated police violence against children, torture, and appalling detention conditions. The results of the projects have been presented during an online event.
In this regard, it is worth mentioning the work carried out during the context of the COVID-19 pandemic by DCI-Argentina’s Socio-Legal Defense Center in the district of La Matanza for the Rights of Children and Adolescents, with the support of DCI International Secretariat.
This pilot project provided psychosocial and legal support to 86 children and adolescents in various situations of rights violations over a period of 12 months. Out of 86 children, 52 suffered torture, inhumane and degrading treatments.
DCI multi-disciplinary team conducted 540 direct interventions for children and organised 87 meetings at the institutional level to mediate with key stakeholders and improve child protection and raise awareness about the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child General Comment No. 24 (2019) on children’s rights in the child justice system.
Reaffirming the commitment to Social Justice is synthesized in Land, Roof, and Work, and this objective is possible to the extent that the rights of girls, boys, and adolescents are fully exercised.