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Estonia Working Hard To Reduce Child Exploitation

Estonia Working Hard To Reduce Child Exploitation, UN Human Rights Expert Finds

New York, Oct 24 2008 3:10PM

Estonia is taking clear steps to protect its children from prostitution, pornography and exploitation, but its young people remain at risk and continued vigilance from authorities is needed, an independent United Nations human rights expert warned today after visiting the Baltic country.

Najat M’jid Maalla, the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, said she was heartened to see first-hand Estonia’s efforts – in legislation, education and prevention programmes, law enforcement, and social and health-care support – to reduce the exploitation of children.

During a five-day visit that concluded today, Ms. Maalla met with senior Government officials and staff at UN agencies and toured 11 centres and organizations involved in child protection.

She welcomed statistics that showed extremely low numbers of cases of child prostitution or child pornography in recent years, and no cases of the sale of children.

Ms. Maalla also noted that Estonia has moved to harmonize its laws with international conventions protecting children and prohibiting human trafficking, and has also taken practical steps, especially in its justice system, to benefit children.

Estonian children now receive greater protection during testimony, information campaigns have been held to promote children’s rights and counselling has been introduced for at-risk children on issues such as HIV/AIDS, drug addiction, abuse and violence.

But the Special Rapporteur said many legislative reforms still need to be finalized and monitoring mechanisms also have to be improved.

Children remain at risk of sexual exploitation, she stressed, given the development of tourism, the easy accessibility of children to new information technologies such as the Internet, and the increasing sophistication of networks of human traffickers.

Ms. Maalla, a paediatrician in Morocco, has served as an independent and unpaid Special Rapporteur since May and reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.

ENDS

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