The Convention on the Rights of the Child is an attempt to spell out the basic rights that children are endowed with. All but two members of the United Nations have ratified the CRC: the U.S. and Somalia.

Advocate Len Morris: Children’s Rights are Human Rights

 Photos found at vox.com

Photos found at vox.com

People around the world have been shocked and repelled by the behavior of the Trump Administration in separating children from their families at our southern border. Children under five were taken from their mothers, while almost three thousand other children were separated from parents and placed in detention centers hundreds and even thousands of miles away, The public outcry has been bipartisan and has included Melania and Ivanka Trump, along with the House and Senate Republican leadership. The video and audio of children crying as they were taken from their mothers has been stomach-turning, as has the imagery of children being held in cages, detained and treated like animals. Over the past few weeks, there continue to be dismaying reports of children abused in these same centers with forced medications, the use of restraints, withholding of food, solitary confinement.

In spite of a federal judge’s order to reunite all children with their families, the Department of Homeland Security has slow-walked the process, missing court-ordered deadlines, while simultaneously deporting their parents. Using children as political pawns in a cynical effort gin up his base, President Trump is personally responsible for orphaning young children and clearly could care less. He is assisted in this process by a handful of dedicated appointees whose fallback position is that they are only following orders and the rule of law, though no law is actually broken when a migrant requests asylum. Incredibly, no less than our Attorney General called the implementation of these heartless policies a Christian act using Romans to justify enforcing the law. What he overlooked in his remarks was that we are not a theocracy and he has no business inflicting his personal religious beliefs on all Americans. Furthermore mistreating children is anything but Christian. A reminder, Jeff, it was Jesus Christ who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

The Administration continues to refuse due process to migrants seeking asylum, has attempted to farm out the reunification process to the ACLU (an effort rejected by the court) and clearly has no record of the whereabouts of the hastily deported parents. As of now, there are still hundreds of children held in illegal custody, including almost 100 children under five years of age.

 

I say illegal, because the United States is violating a series of United Nations Declarations on Human Rights that includes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the Declaration on the Rights of the Child (1959), and the Convention on the Rights of Child (1989). In the aftermath of World War Two, where an estimated 65 to 80 million people perished, these framework documents were established to express a global consensus on the inherent dignity of humankind, regardless of race, gender or nationality. In the process, children were singled out for special care, as they are wholly dependent on adults for security and the basics of a decent life.

 

Here are some provisions of these documents that the Trump administration violates daily in practice and in spirit.

“In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

States parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable laws and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interest of the child.

States parties shall respect the right of a child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child’s best interests.”

— The Convention on the Rights of the Child:
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“The child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.

The child shall in all circumstances be among the first to receive protection and relief.

The child shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation.”

— The Declaration of the Rights of the Child 

Virtually every one of the above provisions has been violated by the Trump administration over the past few months and the violations continue daily. In what has amounted to state sanctioned kidnapping, there has been no accountability for the persecution and detention of thousands of innocent children and legitimate asylum seekers. Likewise, there has been no accountability for the American government violating fundamental principles of human rights, decency and international law.

The Courts and Congress should hold Trump and his coterie accountable. Despite their protestations, this isn’t policy for the benefit of America’s security, this is criminal behavior that should not go unpunished.

[This opinion piece was originally published at the web site of Media Voices for Children, an online community for children’s rights, on August 24, 2018 and can be read here. As of September 13, 2018, news reports from AZcentral.com estimated that more than 400 children remained separated from their parents in border detention facilities.] 

Len Morris is an award-winning film maker who has made several child labor films, including the seminal documentary, “Stolen Childhoods.” He is the recipient of the Iqbal Massih Award from the U.S. Department of Labor for his child labor advocacy.

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Antonement and Action for President Obama in His Last 100 Days

By Jonathan Todres

 

This week is Yom Kippur (Sundown, October 11 to Sundown, October 12), the Day of Atonement on the Jewish calendar. As tradition has it, atoning on Yom Kippur will address only sins against God. For transgressions against other individuals, Jews are obligated to seek forgiveness from and reconciliation with those people first. Yom Kippur also marks the end of the High Holidays, and thus offers the prospects of a fresh start and an opportunity to do better than we did the year before.

 

While I’m well aware that President Obama is not Jewish (or Muslim—are people still really talking about that?), I’d like to invite him to participate, at least in spirit.  And I think the timing is appropriate, because Yom Kippur falls approximately 100 days from the end of the Obama Presidency—leaving one final window of opportunity for the president while still in the Oval Office.

 

On his inauguration in 2009, newly-elected President Obama boldly proclaimed that “[a]s for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.” Human rights advocates hailed his election and speech as the dawn of a new, promising era of progress on human rights. The past eight years haven’t necessarily lived up to expectations.

 

So, with little more than 100 days left in the Obama Presidency, I have two hopes. First is that he is reflecting on shortcomings (e.g., no human rights treaty was ratified while he was in office; even President George W.… Read the rest

CHILD LABOR COALITION PRESS RELEASE: Advocates join Nobel Laureate Satyarthi in plea to President to ratify UN Convention on Rights of the Child

For immediate release: June 13, 2016
Contact: Reid Maki, Child Labor Coalition, (202) 207-2820, reidm@nclnet.org

Washington, DC—With many World Day Against Child labor (officially June 12) events observed today and tomorrow around the globe, the Child Labor Coalition (CLC), representing 40 groups and millions of Americans, joins Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi in his recent appeal to President Barack Obama for the U.S. ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on November 20, 1989, the Convention on the Rights of the Child is a human rights treaty that promotes the rights of all children worldwide. The CRC recognizes all children’s rights to develop physically, mentally, and socially to their fullest potential, to express their opinions freely, and to participate in decisions affecting their future. The CRC is the first legally binding international instrument that incorporates the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political, and social—into a single text.

The United States of America played a pivotal role in the long process of drafting the CRC, and yet, now is the only country in the United Nations that has not ratified the convention.

In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio this week, Satyarthi, who won the Peace Prize in 2014 along with teen education activist Malala Yousafzai, appealed to President Obama, also a former Nobel Peace Prize laureate, to take action before he leaves office: I would humbly appeal to the outgoing President Obama to leave a great footprint…by way of ratifying [the] U.N.Read the rest

Making Universal Children’s Day Meaningful

by Jonathan Todres

November 20th is Universal Children’s Day. The U.N. established Universal Children’s Day in 1954 to create a day of “activity devoted to the promotion of the ideals and objectives of the [U.N.] Charter and the welfare of children of the world.” Worthwhile goals, but as there are now more than 125 international observance days, it is fair to ask whether Universal Children’s Day makes a difference.

Jonathan Todres

Jonathan Todres

Universal Children’s Day presents an opportunity to reflect on both progress made and work still to be done. Since the adoption of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child—the most comprehensive treaty on children’s rights and well-being—on November 20, 1989, significant progress has been made on behalf of tens of millions of children around the world. Yet much more work remains. The data on infant and child mortality rates reflects this: globally, the number of deaths of children under five declined from 12.7 million in 1990 to less than 6 million in 2015. That’s vital progress, as many children now realize their most precious right—to life and survival. Yet more than five million young children still die each year, largely due to preventable causes.

But Universal Children’s Day can be much more than a day to raise awareness. It can be a day of action, a launching point for initiatives that accelerate progress on children’s rights and wellbeing. What might that look like? I have three suggestions.

First, if you are President of the United States, send the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to the Senate for its advice and consent. The CRC is the most widely accepted human rights treaty in history. There are 196 parties to the treaty; the U.S. is the only country that hasn’t ratified it. The CRC has helped foster progress on law, policy, and programs aimed at improving children’s well-being and securing children’s rights. The U.S. signed the treaty in 1995, but it has taken no action since then (ratification is necessary to make a treaty legally binding).

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