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ECUADOR SIGNS CONVENTION TO STOP TRAFFIC IN CHILDREN

June 11, 1998

The government of Ecuador today expressed its firm support for efforts by Organization of American States (OAS) member countries to eradicate the international trafficking in minors.

For the Ecuadorian government Ambassador Julio Prado Vallejo, permanent representative to the OAS, signed the Inter-American Convention on International Traffic in Minors which was adopted Mexico in March 1994 at the Fifth Inter-American Specialized Conference on Private International Law.

"Defending children is defending the country's future," declared Ambassador Prado as he signed the convention, calling on the international community to tackle the crime as a joint endeavor. The Ecuadorian diplomat added that his country would continue waging "a tough battle" against those who violate the most basic of human rights, in particular the rights of children. While signing the convention, the ambassador however entered a reservation stating that "under our Political Constitution, Ecuador cannot extradite its nationals, who are to be tried in accordance with the laws of our country."

OAS Secretary General CÚsar Gaviria described the convention as "the answer to a longstanding concern held by countries for which international trafficking in minors and related issues are real problems that call for swift and decisive response by our governments."

Signed so far by Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela--and now Ecuador--the Inter-American Convention provides for a system of legal cooperation among states party to prevent and punish international trafficking in minors, through legal and administrative measures not only for punishment but also to ensure a young victim is returned to his usual place of residence.

"This act is without question a good example of the commitment the countries of the Americas should have on this matter, in order to fulfil the aspiration of ensuring our children an opportunity to be raised in their family in an atmosphere of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and support," the OAS chief said.


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