Children can now seek justice for abuses through UN

Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children urges Canada to ratify new treaty so more children can access international justice for rights abuses

TORONTO, Jan. 15, 2014 /CNW/ - Children whose human rights have been violated will finally be able to bring their cases to the United Nations after a new international treaty enacted on January 14, 2014.

Until this recent UN action and despite its near universal ratification (all countries have ratified except Somalia, South Sudan and the United States), the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was the only international human rights treaty that had no mechanism for victims to seek justice internationally when they could not get redress for violations of their rights nationally.

The new treaty, known as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure (OP3 CRC) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2011. The treaty will become active in three months' time after Costa Rica ratified it on January 14. Albania, Bolivia, Gabon, Germany, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Thailand previously ratified.

A State is not bound by the treaty until it ratifies it.  Campaigners are urging governments around the world, including Canada, to ratify the new treaty so more children can access justice at the UN. Ratify OP3 CRC, an international coalition of children's rights NGOs, says the UN will now be better equipped to address future violations of children's rights, and more pressure will be put on countries to ensure children's rights are respected.

Cheryl Milne, Chair of the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children says, "This is an important step in ensuring that children's rights are taken seriously. Canada should show its commitment to the rights of children by ratifying this protocol."

Cases brought under this new communications procedure will be heard by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN body of 18 independent experts responsible for ensuring the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. From 14 April 2014, victims of all new or ongoing violations in States who have ratified the treaty can start bringing cases to the Committee if no solution is found nationally. The treaty does not cover past violations.

"This new international treaty enacted by the UN is a major human rights victory and milestone for children across the world, especially those who are routinely affected and threatened by violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, and discrimination," said Rosemary McCarney, President and CEO of Plan Canada. "When Canada and more states move to ratify this protocol, more children around the world will finally have access to the means and channels they deserve to have their rights respected and to call on their governments to take action to protect them."

About the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children (CCRC)
The Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children (CCRC) is a network of Canadian organizations and individuals who promote respect for the rights of children. Its purpose is to: exchange information; provide public education materials about the Convention on the Rights of the Child; monitor implementation of the Convention in Canada; and engage in dialogue with government officials on child rights issues. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the guiding framework for all activities of the coalition. Visit http://rightsofchildren.ca for more information.

About Plan Canada
Founded in 1937, Plan is one of the world's oldest and largest international development agencies, working in partnership with millions of people around the world to end global poverty. Not for profit, independent and inclusive of all faiths and cultures, Plan has only one agenda: to improve the lives of children. Because I am a Girl is Plan's global initiative to end gender inequality, promote girls' rights and lift millions of girls - and everyone around them - out of poverty. Visit www.plancanada.ca and www.becauseiamagirl.ca for more information.


SOURCE Plan Canada

For further information:

Media contacts: 

Cheryl Milne, Chair, Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children
cheryl.milne@utoronto.ca / 416-978-0092

Abigail Brown, Plan Canada
abrown@plancanada.ca /647-971-3764