Roadmap to protect children against all forms of violence in the Caribbean

15/05/2014

I. Background

The Caribbean Meeting for Follow-up to the Recommendations of the United Nations Study on Violence against Children was held in Kingston, Jamaica on 14 and 15 May 2012 to encourage more widespread dissemination of the UN Study and renewed commitments to follow up on its recommendations at sub-regional and national levels. The meeting was also meant to raise awareness about violence against children in the Caribbean, to promote exchange of experiences, and stimulate further progress in priority areas of concern.

The meeting was hosted by the Government of Jamaica, organized with the Global Movement for Children in Latin American and the Caribbean (GMC–LAC) in partnerships with the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Violence against Children (Marta Santos País), and benefited from the support of CARICOM.

The Caribbean meeting promoted the consolidation of the strategic alliances with key institutions, including the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and CARICOM. The meeting prioritized strengthening institutional links with countries in the Caribbean, United Nations agencies , international and regional organizations, as well as civil society organizations, including the media, religious leaders, research institutions and children and adolescents themselves, with a focus on accelerating progress in the implementation of the recommendations of the UN Study.

The meeting reaffirmed the importance of the Recommendations of the UN Study in taking concrete and strategic actions based on international human rights instruments and in accelerating and monitoring progress in preventing and responding to all forms of violence against children.
The meeting recognized the strategic role of the SRSG on Violence against Children in raising awareness and promoting accelerated progress in the implementation of the UN Study‟s recommendations. In this perspective, the SRSG‟s task is fundamental and underscores the urgency of tackling violence against children and adolescents, based on an effective approach and realistic priorities, with a particular emphasis on the following three overarching recommendations of the UN Study:

 Development in each State of a national strategy on violence against children (Recommendation 1);
 An explicit legal ban on all forms of violence in all settings (Recommendation 2);
 Development of data and research systems with regard to this problem (Recommendation 11).

II. Proposals and recommendations

Prior to the event, a mapping exercise was conducted on implementation of the recommendations in the Caribbean - emphasizing the three prioritized by the SRSG. The mapping incorporated information from primary and secondary sources, as well as from States and civil society organizations from throughout the Caribbean. Experts on children‟s rights also contributed with valuable information. In addition, groups of children and adolescents were consulted to ensure their views are taken into account. Their contributions were decisive in clarifying their perceptions of violence, their experiences and proposals on ways to implement the recommendations.

The present document is based on the key findings of the mapping and the outcomes of the Caribbean Meeting. It presents a Roadmap with recommendations to track progress in implementing the three recommendations identified as priorities.

To ensure a strategic and sustainable approach to the implementation of the recommendations, the following strategic actions are proposed:

Use of the international human rights instruments as a framework for action

Considering that the protection of children and adolescents from violence is an ethical and human rights imperative, it is recommended that all States in the Caribbean ratify the human rights treaties related to children and withdraw reservations they may have entered in relation to these. In particular, States in the Caribbean are encouraged to ratify the three Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Children, namely: the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure States are called upon to recognize the contentious jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and to take actions to implement the recommendations by international and regional human rights monitoring bodies, in particular the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC Committee), the SRSG on Violence against Children, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its Rapporteurship on Children‟s Rights, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Special attention should be paid to the Concluding Observations and General Comments of the CRC Committee, the recommendations of the SRSG on Violence against Children, and the recommendations of the three thematic reports published by the IACHR: Citizen Security and Human Rights; Corporal Punishment and Human Rights of Children and Adolescents; and Juvenile Justice and Human Rights.

Development of a national strategy to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against children and adolescents (Recommendation 1)

States are encouraged to develop a comprehensive and integrated strategy on the prevention and response to all forms of violence against children. In addition, the recommendations of the UN Study should be included in public policy planning instruments, both those of a general nature and those specifically designed for children (i.e. national plans of action for children, national development plans, and national human rights plans, as well as other plans and programmes). The strategy on violence as well as other State‟s planning instruments must include strategic objectives, defined timelines and resource allocations that are adequate and sufficient, in both financial and human terms, as well as relevant indicators and regular evaluations of their results and impact. Their implementation needs to be ensured by high level coordinating mechanisms, with management responsibility for activities that span across government departments and political and administrative levels. States are encouraged to ensure that reports of the implementation of the strategy on violence and supportive activities are presented annually to Parliament and made available to the general public.

The development of national strategies and plans should be promoted in association with other relevant parties, in particular civil society organizations, and other groups, including children and adolescents, as well as religious leaders, the media, academic institutions.

These actions must be accompanied by a communication and dissemination strategy involving the media in order to strengthen the principles of transparency and public control and ensure that the public has access to information on strategies for combating violence. The communication strategy should also seek to contribute to addressing social norms and behaviours condoning violence against children (entailing a social and cultural change) and should be directed both at the general public and at decision-makers, using appropriate, child-friendly language when required.