UNICEF condemns use of children in the front-line of demonstrations in Dili

DILI, Timor-Leste 28 July 2006 – UNICEF is once
again strongly condemning the manipulation of
children after young children were seen
participating in the front of a demonstration
outside the Dili Police Station to call for the
release of Alfredo Reinaldo Alves who was
detained by international forces on Tuesday 25th July 2006.

Standing in the front line of the demonstration,
these children held banners and signs alleging
that the new government was no different from the old one.

UNICEF calls the leaders of the nation and also
parents and the community to take immediate
actions to stop this exploitation of children.
UNICEF reminds all duty bearers to put a stop to
this continued abuse of young children in
protests and political demonstrations. Such
demonstrations tend to get out of control and
being in the frontline of protests, exposes
children to the threat of violence and hurt.

Timor-Leste ratified the Convention on the Rights
of the Child (CRC) in December 2002, just 7
months after the restoration of independence.
Article 36 of the Convention states that the
state shall protect the child against all forms
of exploitation that could have an impact on the child’s welfare.

“Although school has started, many children are
still not back to school and many times they are
left unsupervised in the camps and communities
during the day. Children, at this age, should be
given guidance, protection and education and not
be neglected and exploited. Children learn from
what they see – if adults do not behave
responsibly, these children will perpetuate the
cycle of violence” said Madhavi Ashok, UNICEF Communication Officer in Dili.

UNICEF, together with the NGOs in the Child
Protection Working Group, has called for parents
and caregivers to supervise their children and
not to allow them to be taken outside their camps
by other people. This work will be strengthened
in the coming weeks using the child protection
focal points and the NGO networks.

This note comes just a week after a
UNICEF-contracted worker was brutally attacked by
a mob which included young people and children.

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