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UNFPA Global Population Policy Update
Laws and Polices in Spain, Denmark, United Kingdom, Sierra-Leone, Indonesia, Mali and Nigeria
ISSUE 20 - 05 April 2004
This issue of the Global Population Policy Update once again focuses on the creation of an enabling environment for the implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action (Cairo, Egypt, 1994). Included in this issue are laws and codes passed in the last eighteen months in various countries addressing such issues as female genital cutting (FGC), HIV/AIDS, youth, protecting children and their rights and human trafficking.
Spain Passes Law on Female Genital Cutting
On 29 September 2003, Spain enacted Organic Law No. 11/2003 which amends the country's penal code with penalties for individuals who engage in female genital cutting (FGC). According to the law, those who practice FGC shall be punished with six to twelve years imprisonment, and greater penalties are to be imposed if the victim is a minor or is disabled. The law also increases the scope of the crime of domestic violence, and increases penalties for committing this crime. In addition, the law amends provisions of the civil code relating to divorce and separation to apply Spanish law to all including those who were married under a legal system in which divorce or separation is not recognized or is recognized in a manner that discriminates against one of the spouses or is against public policy. This change is aimed at protecting the rights of immigrant women who were married under foreign legal systems. http://www.juridicas.com/base_datos/Penal/lo11-2003.html
Denmark Passes Law on Female Genital Cutting
On 28 May 2003, Denmark approved Law No. 386, which amends the Penal Code with a new section on FGC (Section 245a): under this section, anyone who, with or without the woman's consent, completely or partially removes her external female genital organ is subject to up to six years imprisonment.
U.K. Passes Law on Female Genital Cutting
On 30 October 2003, the United Kingdom enacted the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003. This act rewrites the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act (1985) to increase and clarify the scope of the crime of FGC. According to the act, an individual is guilty of an offence if he or she excises, infibulates or otherwise cuts the whole or any part of a woman's labia majora, labia minora or clitoris. However, the law specifies that an approved person has not committed a crime if he or she performs either a surgical operation on a woman which is necessary for her physical or mental health or a surgical operation on a woman who is in any stage of labour or has just given birth, for purposes connected with the labour or birth. Further provisions of the act deal with the offence of assisting a woman to cut her own genitalia, the offence of assisting a non-U.K. citizen to cut a woman's genitalia outside of the country and penalties for offenses.
Sierra Leone Approves National Youth Policy
On 30 June 2003, Sierra Leone approved a National Youth Policy. The policy is designed to mainstream youth activities and to highlight youth concerns as a critical input in the development process. It seeks to strengthen collaboration between youth organizations, youth servicing agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and all ministries that have youth-related activities. The policy defines a youth as any Sierra Leonean aged 15 to 35. It provides guidelines on the responsibilities of adults, the state and the private sector to youth and the responsibilities of youth to the society.
Under the policy, youth have the rights:
-To a quality education;
-To participate in all decision-making processes relating to their welfare;
-To protection from harmful drugs, use of firearms and all forms of exploitation, including sexual abuse or child labour;
-To decide about their marriage (particularly the girl-child);
-To gainful employment;
-To participation in governance issues;
-To form associations;
-To freedom of opinion, conscience and expression;
-To live in a good and healthy environment; and
-To maintain a child-parent relationship.
The policy sets forth specific measures for key target groups, including the girl-child, young women, sex workers and youth living with HIV/AIDS. Youth have the duty to practice safe sex, to promote gender equality and respect for the rights and dignity of girls and women and to actively participate in the fight against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and the spread of HIV/AIDS. http://www.statehouse-sl.org/policies/youth.html
Indonesia Passes Law on Child Protection
On 22 October 2002, Indonesia enacted the Law on Child Protection, which guarantees children the rights to survive, grow, develop and participate optimally and with dignity in society. Specifically, the law guarantees children the rights to: a name and personal identity; religion; medical services and social insurance; education, including special education for the disabled; free expression of opinions; protection from discrimination, sexual or economic exploitation, brutality and violence, injustice and other kinds of mistreatment; family nurturing; protection from involvement in armed conflict and war; and protection and legal assistance when a child has committed a crime. The state is obligated to respect and guarantee the human rights of every child without discrimination based on race, religion, sex, ethnic group, culture, language, status of birth, sequence of birth or physical or mental condition.
The law sets forth principles on and measures to deal with:
-Parental responsibilities, including the responsibility to prevent a child from being married before the legal age;
-Limitation of parental authority and transfer of custody to other persons or to an institution in cases where the parent neglects his or her responsibilities;
-The government's responsibility to provide nine years of basic education;
-A ban on recruiting or using children for military purposes;
-Health care for children, including free health care for families with financial difficulties;
-Protecting children from being used for unauthorized organ transplantation;
-Measures against sexual or economic exploitation, trafficking, sexual abuse and mistreatment of children;
-Adoption and foster care; and
-Children in the criminal system.
The Indonesian Child Protection Commission is to be created in accordance with this law to enhance the effectiveness of child protection efforts.
Mali Ratifies Code to Protect Children
On 5 June 2002, Mali enacted a Code of Child Protection. The code provides that children have the rights to: an identity and birth registration; family life; freedom of expression; a minimum of nine years of education; immunization; employment from the age of 15; equal treatment without discrimination based on race, place of origin, color, social origin, citizenship, beliefs, sex, age, marital status, family status or disability; and freedom from harassment, including sexual harassment. The code prohibits the involvement of children in armed conflict and their exploitation in organized crime. It also sets forth principles on and measures to deal with: the duties of children; the duty to inform the authorities of children in need of protection; state authorities responsible for the protection of children; the protection of children in danger (including protection from sexual abuse, sex offenses, prostitution, violence, trafficking and pornography); the placement of children outside the family when they have been subject to neglect or abuse; disabled children; children who have committed a crime; and street children. http://www.justicemali.org/doc107.htm
Nigeria Enacts Anti-Human Trafficking Law
In July 2003, Nigeria enacted the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act. This act sets out penalties for trafficking and establishes a national agency assigned to oversee enforcement of the act and coordinate all national laws and measures aimed at preventing human trafficking. The agency's specific duties include: enhancing law enforcement agents' effectiveness in stopping human trafficking; improving communication, research and international cooperation; reinforcing and supplementing measures in treaties signed by Nigeria to counter human trafficking; collaborating with other agencies and bodies to eliminate the root causes of human trafficking; strengthening legal means for international cooperation in criminal affairs; and enhancing cooperation between the judiciary, law enforcement services and other agencies within Nigeria. In addition, the agency is responsible for supervising the rehabilitation of trafficked persons and is allowed to participate in legal proceedings related to human trafficking. The agency may also call for investigations into possible offences under the act.
The act specifies the different crimes related to human trafficking and sets criminal penalties. Under the act, exporting or importing persons under the age of 18 for purposes of prostitution and dealing in persons as slaves are punishable with life imprisonment. Other activities related to procuring persons under the age of 18 for prostitution are subject to varying prison terms and/or fines. Under the act, tour operators and travel agents are obliged to notify their clients that they are prohibited from aiding or abetting the offences of trafficking, pornography and exploitation. Airline companies are also expected to promote public awareness of the act in in-flight magazines, on ticket jackets and on in-flight videos. Under the act, the new agency must make efforts to ensure that trafficked persons are not subjected to discrimination, that they have access to adequate health care and social services and that they are able to return home safely. The agency must ensure that investigations intrude minimally into the personal history of a trafficked person, that his or her identity is protected and that the person is protected from intimidation, threats and reprisals from traffickers. Trafficked persons are not to be prosecuted for offenses related to being a victim of trafficking, which include non-possession of valid travel permits or use of false travel documents. The act further notes that a trafficked person, regardless of his or her immigration status, has the right to bring a civil action against a trafficker and others who have contributed to his or her exploitation. Convicted traffickers are liable for their victims' economic, physical and psychological damages.
This newsletter is issued by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in its capacity as secretariat for the biannual International Parliamentarians' Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (the first conference was held in November 2002, in Ottawa, Canada). These dispatches are intended to highlight important developments taking place around the world so that parliamentarians can be kept informed of and learn from the successes, setbacks and challenges encountered by their fellow parliamentarians in other countries and regions in their efforts to promote the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (September 1994, Cairo, Egypt). It should be noted that UNFPA does not necessarily endorse all of the policies described in this newsletter.
Thanks to Center for Reproductive Rights and Harvard University School of Public Health for their contributions to the content of this newsletter.
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