Following a lengthy discussion and debate on the rights of the child at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva today (9 March 2012), IHEU main representative Roy Brown raised two issues that had gone unmentioned during the several hours of debate: the problems faced by African children accused of witchcraft by evangelical Christian preachers, and the failure of the Holy See to honour its obligations to the world’s children under the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Here is Roy’s statement in full:
UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: 19th Session
Speaker: IHEU Main Representative, Roy W Brown, Friday 9 March 2012
Agenda Item 3: The Promotion and Protection of all Human Rights
The Rights of the Child and Reporting to the CRC
We wish to raise two general points under the issue of the rights of the child.
We will be speaking in more detail under agenda item 4 about one particular form of child abuse that has become prevalent in many parts of Africa – namely accusations of witchcraft and demonic possession against children by priests and pastors of evangelical churches; accusations that are having catastrophic consequences for the children concerned, often resulting in the torture or death of the victims.
Our second point relates to States’ obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child to file full reports on their responsibilities under the Convention every five years, yet we note with concern that several States have failed to fully honour that obligation. We would cite just one example: it is now 20 years since the Holy See filed their last report.
The distinguished representative of the Holy See stated here in 2009 that their “report to the committee was being finalised, and that it would contain a paragraph on child abuse.” But that was nearly three years ago and we have heard nothing since. And we trust that when their report finally does appear it will contain more than just a single paragraph on the issue of child abuse by Catholic clergy following the continuing world-wide scandals.
There are, of course, no sanctions against States which fail to honour their obligations under the CRC so it is important that those failures be given publicity, and the States that are remiss shamed at the bar of world opinion.
We urge all States to make good on their obligations not only to the CRC but, far more importantly, to the thousands of abused children for whom they are directly or indirectly responsible.
Thank you, madam.