Special guests invited for a Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly debate on the programme “Building a Europe for and with children” included Princess Caroline of Monaco, and some 60 elementary school pupils.
The basis of the discussion was a report by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, on “stamping out all forms of violence, exploitation and abuse of child victims”. Two children per week die of maltreatment in Germany and the United Kingdom, and three in France, according to the human rights defence organisation.
The princess spoke in her capacity as president of the World Association of Children’s Friends (AMADE). She said:
“In 2002, AMADE sounded the alarm. We’re now in 2007 and the urgency is the same. It is clear: we must defend the right not to suffer, the right not to be sexually abused, the right not to be sold, not to be exploited, not to be raped, not to be kidnapped, not to be mutilated, the right not to be neglected and then forgotten.”
Despite Europe’s many legal instruments in this field, the reality lived by a substantial number of children is something quite different, the Council says. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro is an expert with the United Nations. At a brief ceremony to launch the “UN Study on Violence against Children” in Europe, he underlined the priorities:
“(We don’t need) a new convention on children’s rights — an enormous number of these already exists. The problem, as several parliamentarians, the princess and the Council’s president have mentioned, is to apply them. I believe children are tired and sceptical about the subject of my report; we the grown-ups must prove to them that we are capable of taking action that makes a difference.”
It was made clear that the alarming figures for sexual abuse in the family, child trafficking, forced labour, severe punishment in care institutions and at home include Europe.