Child rights not paid enough attention, says UN expert

By Don Asoka Wijewardena 

The Vice Chairperson of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child yesterday emphasised in Colombo that the UNCRC had laid down what governments and individuals should do to promote and protect the rights of all children, but many governments had been ignoring it.

 Dr. Mrs. Hiranthi Wijemanne, addressing a media conference said that by ratifying the convention the Sri Lankan government would commit itself to ensuring that its children could grow up in safe and supportive conditions with access to high quality education and health care and a good standard of living. By signing up to the UNCRC, governments had agreed to protect children from discrimination, sexual and commercial exploitation and violence. 

The former top official of the UNICEF in Colombo said that despite the UNCRC efforts, many governments, including Sri Lanka had not paid due attention to the basic rights of children. Many underage children were being employed as domestic servants, construction site helpers, she said. Every child should have access to proper education. The eradication of child labour was an onus upon every government. But, many governments had ignored it, she said.

 Dr. (Mrs.) Neelamani Hewageegana, Director, Health Education Bureau said that violent and anti-social behaviour of children had its roots in adult violence and attitudes towards them. More effective measures to eliminate child pornography and measures to prevent child abuse and prostitution were absolutely essential, she said.

 Dr. Mrs. Hewageegana added that all girls and boys should have access to and complete primary education that was free, compulsory and of good quality, as a cornerstone of an inclusive basic education. Gender disparities in primary and secondary education should also be eliminated, she said.

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