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UNICEF and UN Human Rights welcome Fiji’s commitment to combatting child exploitation

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SUVA, Fiji, 19 March 2021 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for the Pacific welcome Fiji’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. The UN agencies look forward to further action to support its implementation.

This Optional Protocol deals with serious violations of children’s rights, including sexual exploitation for purposes such as prostitution and child abuse, as well as the sale of children for forced labour or transfer of organs. It complements the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Fiji ratified in 1993, and addresses the transnational nature of such crimes.

“This decision will further guide and strengthen Fiji’s commitment towards better protecting children and providing them with the opportunities to live and grow in a safe, protective environment,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Sheldon Yett. “UNICEF and our partners stand ready to support the Government to implement this Optional Protocol.”

“Fiji is a party to all nine core international human rights treaties and has assumed the obligation to guarantee to all individuals all human rights. Ratification of the Optional Protocol is a welcome next step, and we will be pleased to see measures to put it into practice. We also look forward to Fiji’s further engagement with the treaty monitoring committees by submitting any overdue reports,” stated OHCHR Regional Representative, Heike Alefsen.

UNICEF and OHCHR encourage efforts to bring the national legislation in compliance, including through the passing of the Child Care and Protection Bill and the Child Justice Bill, which should help to address the crimes prohibited under the Optional Protocol, such as child abuse, neglect, exploitation and separation from family, and facilitate access to child-sensitive social and justice services.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child, which examines how States fulfill their obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocols, last reviewed the situation of children in Fiji in 2014.* It will send a list of questions to the Government in June this year to assess the progress made to guarantee the rights of children since.

UNICEF and OHCHR will continue to work with all partners on the rights of children to protection from all forms of violence so they can survive, thrive and reach their full potential.

Notes to Editors:

* The findings of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on the situation of children in Fiji are available at: https://bit.ly/2NwANQG

About the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for the Pacific:

OHCHR works to promote and protect all human rights for all people. OHCHR’s Regional Office for the Pacific covers 14 Pacific Island Countries and Australia and New Zealand and facilitates technical expertise and capacity building to support the implementation of international human rights standards on the ground. It assists governments, which bear primary responsibility for the protection of human rights, to fulfil their obligations, collaborates with civil society, supports individuals to claim their rights, and speaks out objectively on human rights. For more information about OHCHR Pacific, follow UN Human Rights Pacific on Twitter and Facebook.

For more information, please contact:

Momoko Nomura, OHCHR for the Pacific, momoko.nomura@one.un.org

Zubnah Khan, UNICEF Pacific, Tel: +679 9988137, zukhan@unicef.org