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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Progress on children’s rights but more needs to be done ]

Progress on children’s rights but more needs to be done

CYPRUS IS making progress towards guaranteeing the rights of children and providing a secure legal and social basis to protect children but there are still a number of deficiencies in the system.

According to the Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of Children, Leda Koursoumba, who was speaking at the start of Child Week, which runs until 20th November, Cyprus needs more ‘child friendly’ courts.

“There exist deficiencies in the protection of children who are presented as victims, litigants or witnesses in court proceedings regarding the exercise of violence in the family,” she said.

On the topic of violence within a family Koursoumba said that “the exercise of violence in the family concerns the children themselves also” and suggested that a viable solution of this social problem is “the development of a national strategy and a plan of action”.

The Commissioner also noted that Regarding the Court system, Koursoumba emphasised the need for the creation of a court system which is friendly towards children.

“Even though the level of administrative justice in Cyprus is especially high, in line with precedent, especially in the sphere of the administration of penal justice, the interests of children has not been taken into account,” said Koursoumba.

To tackle the problem of violence in the family the Commissioner suggested “the fitting into place of interdepartmental processes in the reporting, referencing and handling of each incident, as well as the training of specialised personnel to handle such incidents”

Regarding the legislative framework, Koursoumba remarked that “Cyprus has, generally speaking, a satisfactory legislative framework concerning the rights of the child even though “problems are encountered in its implementation”.

At the same time, added the Commissioner, “the adaptation of various legislative measures and their complete harmonisation with the securing of the rights of the child is essential”.

What these “rights of the child” specifically are, legally speaking, are outlined in detail in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Articles 19 and 20 deal especially with violence against children and abuse, including sexual abuse, and what provisions should be made by signatory states to protect against this, and what measures states are required to adopt in instances where such abuse does occur. The Convention does, however, go further than that and lists a wide variety of human rights which it is the purpose of Child Week to make the public aware of.

“Child week has as its purpose the education of the public on what we have to do if we actually want to make this treaty a reality in Cyprus.” said Koursoumba. Cyprus adopted the UNCRC in 1991.

It was the adoption of the UNCRC which gave children rights from the moment of their birth; before it was adopted children were legally the responsibility of and under the control of their parents. “Children are not the property of their parents. Neither actually nor legally nor is this the international position on the matter.” said Koursoumba “Culturally and as a society we have not realized this, children don’t know this, and it is not lived.” She underlined that, in practice, this was the most widespread problem on the island regarding the way children are treated. “We want to introduce a culture of respect for the rights of children.” she said.

“Knowledge is the main tool to get things moving in terms of any social change we may wish to bring about.” said Koursoumba, highlighting that children must be given details on what is relevant to them in ways they can understand.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) by the UN Security Council. To mark the occasion Child Week this year has been given a celebratory atmosphere with events occurring throughout the week.

(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.

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