After the summer break the COMECE monthly focuses on two EU Commission initiatives for children protection (registration of births and the Internet), to the case of Cyprus, to the EU presidency in this semester, to a post Rio+10 reflection and to an account of the 7th “summer camp” proposed by COMECE in July. The editorial is by Frank Turner: “The EU, the USA and the crisis”.
Birth registry. An international regulation adopted by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights CCPR in 1966, reiterated in the Convention on children’s rights (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child) of 20 November 1989, stipulates the mandatory registration of a child in an official list or register, to ensure the respect of civil and political rights. The State must ensure the conditions that will make registration possible and ensure that it takes place. It is estimated that in 2007 51 million children born worldwide in 2007 were not registered. Explained Anna Echterhoff (COMECE), “The causes of non-registration are many and varied: the legal provisions governing the registration of births are often neither sufficiently comprehensive nor implemented. Long travel distances to the “nearest” registration office also present obstacles. However, in many cases the cause may also lie in pure ignorance on the part of parents of both the obligation to register and the positive effects of registration”. For this reason the European Commission and UNICEF jointly decided to allocate 6 million euro for a project to introduce, inter alia, “new free registration procedures in eight selected countries” (Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Mozambique, Uganda, Kiribati, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands), with a high proportion of unregistered children (owing to collapse of the register of births as a result of civil war) are highly discriminated in access to fundamental services in absence of a birth certificate. The projects avails itself of “Digital and mobile technology to make available the registration of births even in remote areas”.
Freedom of movement in a divided cyprus. In the Republic of Cyprus, EU member state since 2004, a part of the territory is under Turkish administration, since the 1974 invasion. Although official figures register frequent crossings of Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots through the internal borders, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Turkey by reason of its refusal to allow the return of around 180,000 Greek-Cypriot displaced persons to their homes in northern Cyprus, violating art. 8 of the Convention. The dividing line “is also the boundary between religious communities” and Christian ecclesial dignitaries have been denied access by the authorities to the so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”, illegally established. According to José Luis Bazán (Comece), “parliamentary questions at the European Parliament during 2012, delivered quite short and soft answers by the European Commission”. In addition, the last EU-Turkey Association Council held on 22 June 2012 “showed both the strong will of the Turkish government to maintain its position on the Cypriot issue and the political weakness of the European Union to use its authority to protect one Member State”. There was unusual international unanimity on a case such as the illegal practices of Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriots’ freedom of movement. But “it must not be used to give legal force to illegal situations or to reinforce any policy of colonization”. Freedom of movement cannot be considered as positive until religious leaders are prevented free access to Christian communities in the northern part of the country.
Children and the Internet. “A Commission ready to intervene, including legislatively, in numerous areas in which the specific situations and needs of minors online are at stake” is lauded by Alessandro Calcagno (COMECE), thanks to the recently presented “Strategy for ‘Creating a safe environment for children online’. It contains four proposals: high-quality content for children and youths; stepping up ‘awareness and empowerment’ by introducing ‘online safety’ in school curricula by 2013; funding an interactive structure for security; ‘creating a safer context for children online’, stepping up parental controls and legislative interventions for web content classification. Finally, as relates to the area of ‘Fighting against child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation’ the Commission advanced proposals by supporting research on innovative technical solutions for the identification and matching of online materials containing sexual abuse of minors and to remove them and prevent their re-uploading. For Calcagno these actions by the EU deserve “full backing, as younger generations have the right to access an online environment that provides them with opportunities and new perspectives, without having to pay the price of dangers and threats”. He suggests that “parents also need to be fully involved and be provided with more awareness and greater skills, as the lack of them can compound the difficulties of monitoring the activities of their children online”. Parliament and Council are now called to provide the necessary support to translate the strategy in concrete legislative proposals.