IACHR Participates in Meeting on Violence against Children in Caribbean States
May 17, 2012
Washington, D.C. - The Rapporteurship on the Rights of the Child of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) participated in a meeting in Kingston, Jamaica, on May 14 and 15, 2012, on the phenomenon of violence against children in the Caribbean states. Also taking part in the meeting were competent authorities on children’s issues, civil society representatives, independent experts, and child and adolescent delegates.
The IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of the Child, Rosa María Ortiz, emphasized that it was important for states, when they draw up and/or revise their national plans of action on children and their sectoral plans on violence against children, to take into account the recommendations of the IACHR, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, as well as those of other human rights organizations with mandates on children. Commission member Ortiz also stressed the importance of setting clear and realistic objectives and specific deadlines and of allocating adequate resources for program implementation. Likewise, she pointed out that strategies, plans, and policies for combating violence should have indicators and mechanisms for follow-up and evaluation and that society should be informed of progress and advances made.
At the meeting, the Rapporteur presented two IACHR thematic reports on the phenomenon of violence against children and adolescents.
The IACHR “Report on Corporal Punishment and Human Rights of Children and Adolescents” points out that physical and humiliating punishment violates children’s personal integrity and dignity, and it recommends to States that they bring their domestic legal provisions into line with human rights standards by prohibiting this practice, which persists in most countries of the region under the name of “moderate correction.” Likewise, the report recommends that the States promote programs to support families, teachers, and others having direct contact with children, to educate them without violence, through a form of positive discipline.
In the second report “Juvenile Justice and Human Rights in the Americas,” the IACHR refers to human rights standards as they relate to juvenile justice systems in the Americas and to the principles that should guide those systems. The IACHR places special emphasis on the need for States to take preventive measures and to develop juvenile justice systems whose objective should be reintegrating children into society, thus enabling them to play a constructive role in it. In addition, juvenile justice systems must be governed by the principles of legality, specialization, last resort, and equality and nondiscrimination, as well as the principle of non-regressivity. With regard to the latter principle, mention should be made of the IACHR’s concern about the trends observed in several countries of the Hemisphere toward lowering the age of criminal responsibility and stiffening sentences for crimes committed by people under 18, in violation of the principle of non-regressivity.
The Kingston meeting was organized by the Government of Jamaica, the Latin American and Caribbean Chapter of the Global Movement for Children, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on violence against children, and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly.