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Nepalese children need more protection after years of suffering, say UN officials

Nepalese children need more protection after years of suffering, say UN officials

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN’s human rights chief in Nepal today issued a joint appeal for the introduction of protective measures for the Himalayan country’s children, saying they suffered widespread violence, indoctrination, manipulation and abuse during the 11-year civil war that ended last year.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Representative Lena Sundh and Gillian Mellsop from UNICEF proposed that the electoral code of conduct being drawn up ahead of this year’s planned polls include specific child protection measures so that children are protected from violence and arrest.

In particular they urge that this code of conduct commit political parties and other political actors to keep schools free of political meetings or other activities and to “not ask, encourage or force children in schools to participate in any political gathering or demonstration.”

“Children might face further violence and manipulation, if necessary precautionary measures are not adopted… The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which Nepal has signed… guarantees children a number of rights, including the right to express their views on any matter affecting them,” the joint statement said.

It also calls for laws and regulations banning the use of schools by all political actors; the use of children at schools in political activities; the enrolment/involvement of other

children in such activities without their parents’ prior consent, and the use of school

buses for transporting political activists.

In addition, the statement presents 10 specific action points, covering the Government’s responsibility to safeguard children from exploitation and a call for all political parties to prevent political manipulation, along with other recommendations.

The joint statement also highlighted that both the Nepalese Government and the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) endorsed provisions in February committing them to “ensuring that children who are released from or have left armed forces or groups are not used for political purposes by any party, including for political propaganda.”