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From: Frans Mulschlegel (
Date: Mon May 08 2000 - 11:24:12 EDT


OTC 3-23-00 2:09 AM

ROME, (Mar. 21) IPS - The Italian Foreign Ministry has made protection of
children in the developing South one of the goals of its development aid
    Italy is promoting respect for the rights of minors worldwide and the
elimination of child labor, which affects 300 million children, 160
million of whom work in conditions of modern-day slavery.
    United Nations statistics also indicate that around 100 million
children live in the streets throughout the world, while the sexual
exploitation of minors constitutes the second largest flow of illicit
    Paula Viero, an advocate for the rights of the child involved in the
Foreign Ministry's aid projects, told IPS that one of the tasks was to
provide support to children and adolescents suffering violence and
physical and pyschological abuse.
    She pointed out that crimes against humanity involving minors included
the most intolerable forms of exploitation and the systematic violation of
their basic rights for economic, commercial, sexual, ethnic, religious,
political, cultural and philosophical motives.
    Italy has decided to reinforce its participation in international
institutions promoting the rights of children and to maintain a constant
presence in global conferences on social issues involving minors.
    Italy is involved in multilateral initiatives with United Nations
agencies aimed at combatting the trafficking of minors. Through programs
implemented in the region of the Balkans in Europe and in Latin America,
Africa and Asia, trafficking routes are being tracked, said Viero.
    Italy has also begun working with the World Bank in carrying out social
activity based on the premise that no development in a country is possible
without development of the youngest generations.
    Other projects implemented by the Italian Foreign Ministry are also
focused on addressing criminal activity by minors, which in most cases is
instigated by adults.
    "In many countries there is no criminal code for minors, which means
children are put in prison with adults," pointed out Viero, who cited a
project in which Italy is working with the government of Angola to draft
new laws for juvenile delinquents.
    She also mentioned the important role played in that area by
non-governmental organizations.
    Viero stressed the major shift that took place in 1998, when Italy once
more put emphasis on its policy of development aid, after years of
virtually no cooperation with the developing South.
    The center-left government at that time, headed by Romano Prodi - -
currently president of the European Commission -- earmarked some $300
million for donations, to which an additional $450 million in development
aid funds were later added.
    The Foreign Ministry also overhauled its development aid policy,
approving new guidelines on matters involving minors, which are at the
basis of all development aid projects.
    Respect for the U.N. convention on the rights of the child and U.N.
treaties against all forms of discrimination, violence and exploitation of
minors, trafficking of minors, attacks based on ethnic origins,
trafficking in human organs and the use of child soldiers was made a
requisite for any country wishing to receive development aid from Italy.

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