DCI-Belgium gets the Belgian State convicted
Belgium has to welcome, decently, foreign children and must not leave them on the street! This is the decision of the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) of the Council of Europe (CoE) which stated that the Belgian State violates the European Social Charter, following a case brought against the Belgian State by DCI-Belgium. DCI-Belgium submitted collective demands to the ECSR about Belgium’s unwelcoming policy towards unaccompanied foreign juveniles who are undocumented residents of accompanied asylum-seekers and foreign juveniles who are undocumented residents.
Opening Brazilian children’s eyes to their rights, the story of 16-year old Geovanna
“I participated in the Human Rights’ Workshop of CEDECA/DF […the Centre for the Defence of Children and Adolescents’ Rights from the Federal District – an affiliate of DCI-Brazil/ANCED] and found it very interesting because we discussed very important matters. One of the workshops I most enjoyed was about The Child and Adolescent Statute (ECA), because I didn’t know a lot about it and on that day I discovered the importance of it to all the young people in our country”, said 16-year-old participant Geovanna after a workshop on human rights and children’s rights organized by DCI-Brazil/ANCED.
Voices of Youth
“In November of 2012, Defence for Children International-Canada held its annual lecture on the rights of children. Each year we invite a well-known advocate for children’s rights to speak and the lectures are open to the public without charge. This year we decided to hold a panel featuring four young people who had all experienced violence and were connected in some way to the youth justice system. The panel was moderated by Michael Enright, a well known radio interviewer and commentator. Michael also arranged for this portion of the program to be broadcast across Canada.The stories of the young people were compelling. When asked what he wanted to do with his life, one young presenter hesitated and then said when he was 14, a close friend had been shot and killed. He talked about how for the next four years his only goal was to stay alive until he reached 18. All of the young people struggled as they talked about painful and brutal experiences but they spoke with honesty, grace and occasional humour. They also talked about their dreams for the future and the steps they were taking to change their lives. This is when the miracles started to happen. One young woman talked about her goal of becoming a judge and following the lecture a youth judge in the audience offered to mentor her and to introduce her to others who could help her reach her goal. Another young panelist talked about following in his grandfather’s footsteps to become a carpenter. A representative of the carpenter’s union heard the broadcast and offered to assist him with an apprenticeship. A police officer contacted DCI to offer help to improve relations between the young presenters and the police. One 13 year old boy who attended the lecture was so touched by the presentations that he asked his friends to give him money rather than birthday presents and he used his birthday money to make a donation to DCI. He also wrote about the event in his school newspaper so that others would understand how poverty and isolation can lead to violence. As always, when youth tell their stories the result is powerful.”
Preventing child sexual exploitation
“The project “Community liaison: to prevent sexual exploitation” is an initiative started by DCI-Costa Rica in 2012 in Pavas, a urban community showing a high incidence of commercial sexual exploitation. Our task is to work with children, young people and their families and many local actors to reduce the risk factors vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation (CSE). At the first stage, we created spaces where children, adolescents, parents and local leaders could develop their skills in Human rights of minors, gender and power relations, manifestations of violence, dating violence, bullying and sexual violence, the dynamics of commercial sexual exploitation and support systems against the CSE. At the second stage, we made a different work: we provided entertainment workshops and school accompaniment projects for children and courses for young people to improve their job skills; focused on family problems; created a Committee of adult and young leaders as references for the community in order to raise awareness. Through this program it was possible to settle the issue in the community and to involve neighboring in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation. The indifference towards this issue has been converted into a proactive attitude which promotes the necessary community liaisons to prevent commercial sexual exploitation.”
Roma children in France, a symbol of violation of children’s basic rights
DCI-France witnesses the constant violation of Roma children’s basic rights, with some of the violations being perpetrated by public authorities. Committed for many years to children of populations like the Roma who flee from misery and discrimination in their countries and come to France seeking a better future, local members and delegates of DCI-France support professionally –through a collective for the Roma children’s right to education”, and sometimes personally, the families living in camps in the Parisian region.
Strengthening communities in Ghana to prevent violence
DCI-Ghana sensitized and trained 10 Local Advisory Committees (LACs) of 10 members each in the Kumasi Metro and strengthened 4 LACs in the Obuasi Municipality. These committees serve as Community Child protection watch dogs to identify, intervene and refer cases of child rights violations and violence against girls and young women to the socio-legal centres and other appropriate agencies such as Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Police and the Department of Social Welfare. The committee members were trained on child rights and gender equality and child protection measures and approaches to promote and protect child rights in the communities. The training equipped the committees with the knowledge and skills of identifying violence cases in their various communities. Their skills have also been enhanced to manage minor violence cases at the local level and referred major cases to the socio-legal centres. The training impacted on them such that they were able to manage cases of child abuse that came to their attention and referred 5 of the cases to the socio-legal centres. The innovative local child protection committees bridged the gap between the formal protection systems and the community level informal system.
Separated children in Italy learn their rights with a famous cartoonist
During the GATE – a project about the trafficking and exploitation phenomena, DCI-Italy met and consulted with many separated children from across the country to understand the level of protection and risks they are exposed to when arriving in Italy. A creative device was designed by DCI-Italy and the famous Italian cartoonist Max Frezzato to facilitate the narration of the children during the consultations. The game is composed of 16 cards and each card reflects an important dimension of the child’s story and individual experience.
Intervening in an online bullying case in Mauritius
DCI Mauritius has in many cases provided legal assistance to children and adolescents who were victims of abuse by parents or at school. One particular challenging case that occurred in 2012 involved a complaint from a girl regarding abuse through Facebook by her boyfriend who was using a fake account to post intimate pictures and misleading and inappropriate messages. The abuse was causing substantial psychological damage to the girl in terms of her reputation, relation with friends and parents. Having a special arrangement with Facebook, DCI-Mauritius immediately requested the account to be closed and was glad to see that this was done within 15 minutes.
The story of an unaccompanied child in Pakistan
SPARC/DCI-Pakistan Drop in Centres (DICs) reunifies runaway children with their families, finding unaccompanied children at bus stops, rail way stations and shrines. In one case, SPARC/DCI-Pakistan was informed about a helpless 13-year-old girl by employees of a local hotel near the General Bus Stand. Staff brought the girl to a DIC, where she received initial counselling, before being handed over to the Child Protection Commission. The girl described to officials how she was forced to leave her house due to domestic abuse, and experienced sexually abused at the bus stand.
Changing policies to secure basic rights of displaced children and their families
At the level of coordination and communication with Palestinian decision-makers and their involvement in the implementation of a number of activities to change policies and intervention for child’s best interest, DCI-Palestine contributed significantly to the case of Arab Ar-Rashaida, through precise documentation of their living conditions after they were forced to leave their areas and live in the open areas of Jericho and the Jordan Valley, with much focus on children, and the problems and violations which they are exposed to. DCI-Palestine contacted the Minister of Social Affairs and Governors of Nablus, Tubas, Bethlehem and Jericho, demanding an immediate intervention to basically alleviate the suffering of the displaced families and intervene to return them to their homes. Following DCI-Palestine’s interventions, the Ministry of Social Affairs announced the formation of a special committee in Nablus consisted of relevant institutions such as the Red Crescent, Ministry of Social Affairs and Nablus Governorate, and that the committee provided displaced families with food, vegetables, meat, water tanks and tents, secured children in schools nearby, secure transportations to and from schools, as well as demanding the competent authorities in Bethlehem to intervene to sort out the issue and facilitate the safe return of families to their homes.
Project ‘Vote for Rooted Children’
In recent years the position of undocumented children in the Netherlands has been complicated, due to a severe migration policy. In anticipation of the elections in September 2012 we started a campaign in the summer to mobilize politicians, political parties and the general public to support a law that would make it possible for children that already live more than five years in the Netherlands to get a residence permit. We asked politicians and everybody else to ‘Vote for Rooted Children’. A website, posters based on the campaign posters of the different parties, but then relating to the fact that it’s about children that are ‘rooted’ in Dutch society, evoked a lot of support. The campaign was a success and after the elections there was a majority in the Parliament to support the temporary regulation and the law that would be formalized later on. End of 2012 the regulation and law seemed to turn out more strict than expected and a lot of children would not be able to profit from the new regulations. New action has been taken and we are confident that in the final proposals the rights of children will be respected.
From Sierra Leone
The Defence for Girls project – Girl Power Programme
The Defence for Girls project is a project that is being implemented in partnership with Defence for Children the Netherlands. It is aimed at providing equal opportunity for girls and young women as their male counterparts. This project has established 16 groups of girls and young women in 8 communities in Western Area and Moyamba district. It provides life skills training for girls and young women, ensure that they are in school and/or involved in skills training programmes, support them organize awareness raising and advocacy pogrammes, thereby also participating in decision making and local governance at community level. It also ensures that they are protected including providing them with legal assistance that enhances their access to justice when they are abused. These activities have succeeded in empowering many girls and young women who now exhibit their talents through public speeches, drama, making local items such as floor mats, hand bands and necklaces. The impact that this programme is making in communities is enormous from the feedbacks that we receive from parents and members of the community to the extent that in one of the communities called Dwarzack in the western area, DCI-SL was given an award of excellence for the good things that the Defence for girls project is doing for girls and young women in their community in 2012. Similarly during the centenary (100 years of existence) celebration of the YMCA Sierra Leone in 2012, DCI-SL was given another award of excellence for the contribution that the organization is making towards the development of children in Sierra Leone.