France: UN expert calls for coordinated approach to protect children

2 December 2011

An independent United Nations human rights expert has encouraged the Government of France to adopt a comprehensive and coordinated approach to protect all children who are victims or vulnerable to various forms of exploitation.

At the same time, the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Najat Maalla M’jid, welcomed the efforts by the Government to prevent and combat the sale and sexual exploitation of children.

“Although the extent of the sale and sexual exploitation of children remains unclear, the phenomenon of cyber pornography is alarmingly increasing,” she said in a news release at the end of her 21 November to 2 December visit.

She noted the increasing vulnerability of children from dysfunctional families and/or families living in precarious situations, and particularly highlighted the high vulnerability of unaccompanied foreign minors to all forms of exploitation.

“Moreover, the use of non-secure new technologies by children subjects them to risks of sexual solicitations and exposure to pornographic material,” stated the news release.

France, it noted, has developed strong legislation that has allowed the establishment of an elaborate child protection system. However, the ongoing production of new laws and the repressive trend could jeopardize these accomplishments.

Despite all efforts by the authorities and the strong mobilization of civil society, the protection and care of children remains “fragmented [and] unequal depending on the capacities of the local authorities and suffers from lack of inter-sectoral coordination. The social services are overwhelmed, and their capacities to accommodate and accompany children are exceeded,” the news release stated.

The Special Rapporteur highlighted the need for a national strategic framework and effective inter-sectoral coordination for the protection of children. She also encouraged France to continue intensifying initiatives relating to international cooperation to combat trans-border crimes.

Ms. Maalla M’jid met with various State and local authorities, civil society and private sector representatives during the mission, and visited childcare centres and shelters in Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux and Marseille.

She reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in an independent and unpaid capacity.


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