Azerbaijan, Baku / corr Trend A.Gasimova / Children are not little adults with little rights. If anything, without the protection of adulthood and the ability to defend themselves, they are more in need of proper and systematic protection, Maud de Boer Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary-General of the Council of Europe stated in Strasbourg on 31 May.
UNICEF's Innocenti centre, which put together frightening statistics, states that over the next twelve months, around 3,500 children under the age of 15 will die as a result of physical abuse and neglect in the world's richest nations; that one million children are being trafficked across international borders a year and that one out of every ten child faces violence and bullying at school.
These figures are far too high in a century where we consider ourselves to be civilised. That is why the Council of Europe, Europe's guardian of human rights, is launching a campaign for children's rights and to stop the violence.
The programme was launched in Monaco on 4 and 5 April, 2006 from which time the children and young people are being involved; taking their place at all conferences and seminars. Material produced for the adult audience is paralleled with material complying to the needs of children and teenagers, especially when it assists them to understand the articles that clarifies their rights, which would otherwise be incomprehensible and ineffectual to them, a relic from an adult world that does not take them into account.
The programme, which will initially run for three years, will hopefully bring about a change in the way the law treats children, and not just from a European law point of view. "What I want to see is a Europe where children are treated fairly before the courts in each country, where they are included in processes that can have a very direct impact on their lives. Judgments by the Court of Human Rights have already made some inroads, but more is needed if children are truly to be treated equally," he stressed.
According to Buquicchio, more significantly still, the Council is moving towards drawing up a convention against sexual exploitation, with the aim of making each European country strong in the fight against abuse. Most likely, it will call for extra territoriality laws to be included in each country, Which ensures that a person who is found guilty of abusing children outside his country's territory can face criminal prosecution when returning to his own country. Another important provision will be to set the statute of limitations from adulthood onwards so that a child who is abused can still bring its abuser to court at a later stage, he added.