Subject: Local And International Agencies Speak Out About Violence Against Children

MEDIA RELEASE

Plan International

DATE: Saturday, 18th August, 2007

LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES SPEAK OUT ABOUT VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN

Today, more than sixty organisations, comprising local and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and United Nations agencies have issued a public statement condemning recent acts of violence against children in Timor-Leste.

The statement calls on all sections of Timorese society, including political parties, local authorities and community members to protect all children against violence and threats to their physical safety and psychological well-being. It also calls upon all sections of Timorese society to promote all children's right to grow up in a country of peace.

The agencies note their "concern that in recent events, children have not been protected, but have been caught up in aggressive and violent demonstrations, and in some cases, have become victims of violent acts".

Mr Tim Budge, Country Director of Plan International and one of the authors of the statement, commented, "the agencies agreed to speak out together because places such as schools, orphanages and homes have become targets for violence, whereas they should be places of safety for children".

The agencies' statement, produced in both Tetum and English, calls for perpetrators of violence against children to be brought to justice, and for all elements of society to work together to stop any further spread of violence. "It is the individual and shared responsibility of all political parties, community leaders and local authorities to ensure a safe, protective environment for children at all times," commented Mr Budge.

Agencies who have endorsed the statement include UNICEF, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Forum ONG Timor-Leste, International Order for Migration (IOM), European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), United Nations Integration Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), Timor Aid and Care International.

A copy of the statement and endorsing agencies is attached. The statement will be circulated via newspaper, television and radio and leaflet, with the hope that the message reaches all districts and villages across Timor-Leste.

For further comment, please contact:

Mr Tim Budge, Country Director Plan International, Tel: +670 724 1401

Ms Lauren Rumble, Chief, Child Protection, UNICEF, Tel: +670 723 1104

Mr Cipriano de Oliveira, Director Forum Comonicacao Juventude (FCJ), Tel: +670 723 6210

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Humanitarian agencies condemn recent acts of violence against children in Timor-Leste

Dili, 17th August, 2007

We, the undersigned agencies, representing a wide cross-section of national and international non-governmental organisations and international agencies, want to express our concern and condemnation of recent acts of violence against children in Timor-Leste.

We call upon all sections of Timorese society, including political parties, local authorities, community leaders and communities, to protect all children against violence and threats to their physical safety and psychological well-being. We also call upon all sections of Timorese society to promote all children's right to grow up in a country of peace.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child was ratified by unanimous vote in the Timorese Parliament in 2002 and is incorporated into Article 18 of the Timorese constitution. The Convention defines children as all those less than 18 years, and requires that children be protected from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, or exploitation (Article 19). Children are among the most vulnerable members of society and require levels of care and protection appropriate to their age and stage of development.

We are concerned that in recent events, children have not been protected, but have been caught up in aggressive and violent demonstrations, and in some cases, have become victims of violent acts. We are particularly concerned that safe places for children, such as schools, orphanages and family homes have been targeted, and have become places where children experience violence and trauma.

We believe that all elements of society need to condemn these developments and speak out against any violence, abuse and exploitation of children and against all violence against children.

We believe that all elements of society need to take action to stop any further spread of violence against children, by making sure that perpetrators are brought to justice and by protecting children against any individuals or groups who would seek to cause further violence to the children of Timor-Leste. Children represent the future of the nation of Timor-Leste and should be the priority in all efforts to resolve conflict and build peace.

We stress that it is the individual and shared responsibility of all political parties, community leaders and local authorities to ensure a safe protective environment for children at all times.

We remind all political parties, authorities, parents and community members that children have the right to protection from violence, exploitation and abuse and that adults need to promote the rights of all children, everywhere, all of the time.

Organisations Endorsing Statement

(17th August, 2007)

- Aileu Resources Training Centre - Alola Foundation - Asia-Pacific Support Collective to Timor Lorosae (APSC-TL) - Assert East Timor - AustCare - BELUN - Care International - Caritas Australia - Catholic Relief Services Timor-Leste (CRS) - Christian Children's Fund Timor-Leste (CCF) - Community Housing Ltd - Concern Timor-Leste - Conselho Nacional da Juventude de Timor-Leste (CNJTL) - Criancas Unidas - East Timor Crisis Reflection Network ETCRN - European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) - Forum Comonicacao Juventude (FCJ) - Forum Komunikasi Perempuan Timor Lorosae (FOKUPERS) - Forum ONG Timor Leste (FONGTIL) - Forum Tau Matan (FTM) - Fundasaun Hadomi Timor Oan (FHTO) - Fundasaun Saude de Timor Lorosae (SATILOS) - Grupu feto foinsa'e Timor Leste (GFFTL) - Hafoun Timor Loro Sa'e (HTL) - HealthNet Timor-Leste - IFES Timor-Leste - International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) - International Organisation for Migration (IOM) - International Peace Assistance Centre - Knua Buka Hatene (KBH) - Konfederasaun Sindikatu Timor Leste (KSTL) - Labor Advocacy Institute (LAIFET) - Lalenok Ba Ema Hotu (LABEH) - Lao Hamutuk - Luta Hamutuk - Maryknoll Sisters Community Aileu - Naroman Timor Foun (NTF) - National Democratic Institute (NDI) - Norwegian Refugee Council - Orfanato Santa Bakhita - Organisaun Mulheres de Timor-Leste (OMT) - Oxfam Australia - Oxfam Hong Kong - Paz y Desarrollo - PeaceWinds Japan - Perkumpulan Hak - Plan International - PRADET - Progressio Timor-Leste - Provedoria Direitus Umanus (PDHJ) - Radio Lorico Lian - Rede Feto Timor-Leste - Timor Aid - Triangle GH Timor-Leste - UNICEF - UNIFEM - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) - United Nations Development Program (UNDP) - United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) - WaterAid Australia (Timor-Leste) - Women's Caucus Timor-Leste - World Food Program (WFP) - World Vision Timor-Leste


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