• 22 mars 2011
fr fr

Annual Discussion Day on the Rights of the Child : Street Children

Children in the street- Hearts Home of Manila/ Philippines

Every year, the Human Rights Council dedi­ca­tes one full day of its March Session to dis­cus­sions on the Rights of the Child. On the occa­sion of the 16th Session, the issue of street chil­dren was dis­cus­sed.

As Points-Coeur had pre­viously atten­ded a col­lo­quium on this same topic in February and had signed various sta­te­ments on the rights of these chil­dren, we atten­ded this dis­cus­sion day.

The aim of the dis­cus­sion was to reaf­firm exis­ting stan­dards with regards to the rights of these chil­dren, to iden­tify the main chal­len­ges and good prac­ti­ces in terms of pro­tec­tion.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, explai­ned that over a 100 mil­lion chil­dren can be consi­de­red as street chil­dren today. This issue concerns deve­lo­ped as well as deve­lo­ping coun­tries alike. These chil­dren are par­ti­cu­larly expo­sed to gross vio­la­tions of their most fun­da­men­tal rights such as pros­ti­tu­tion or traf­fi­cking. Furthermore, a United Nations study shows that these chil­dren are victim of dis­cri­mi­na­tions. Indeed, they are very often consi­de­red as delin­quents or cri­mi­nals and conse­quently are sub­jec­ted to police vio­lence, tor­ture and disap­pea­ran­ces.

During the dis­cus­sion, we also heard from former street chil­dren. They expres­sed their wish to be consi­de­red as indi­vi­duals and reaf­fir­med their will to use their poten­tial.

The Special Rapporteur on the sale of chil­dren, child pros­ti­tu­tion and child por­no­gra­phy spoke in order to explain the com­plexity of this issue. Indeed, there is no homo­ge­neous group of street chil­dren. First, some chil­dren live perio­di­cally on the street, others live there cons­tantly. We also need to take into account various fac­tors such as sex, age, time spent on the street, rea­sons for being on the street, means of sur­vi­val on the street....One needs to unders­tand that each child is unique and the way one deals with his/her situa­tion must be adap­ted to its par­ti­cu­lar situa­tion.

The issue of street chil­dren has a multi-dimen­sio­nal nature. Why do these chil­dren resort to living on the street ? Many of them end up on the street because of a lack of fami­lial struc­ture, when they are victim of their family’s vio­lence, when the family does not pro­tect them any­more. Other fac­tors such as poverty and pre­ca­rious­ness, migra­tion pat­terns, lack of access to hou­sing, socio-cultu­ral prac­ti­ces vio­la­ting chil­dren’s rights must also be taken into account. These fac­tors may also be empha­si­zed with other fac­tors such as conflict or HIV. Many chil­dren can also be ill or addic­ted to drugs. Institutional res­pon­ses do not res­pond to the need of pro­tec­tion of these chil­dren.

It is cru­cial to adopt mea­su­res ade­quate to the issue, which will also take into account the fact that clo­sely moni­to­ring these chil­dren re-inte­gra­tion is essen­tial.

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