165,010 Irish say ‘STOP’ to Child Trafficking
Joint Press Release: The Body Shop & Children’s Rights Alliance
21 July 2011
The Body Shop Ireland, joined by campaign partners the Children’s Rights Alliance and ECPAT International, will today (21 July 2011) hand over its petition to ‘Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People’ petition to the Irish Government on the steps of Leinster House. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD, will accept the petition on behalf of the Government.
The petition, the largest ever collected by The Body Shop globally [6.8 million signatures in 50 countries] was launched in July 2010, Calls for Action specific to Ireland are:
1. Identify child victims and enforce laws to prosecute child traffickers;
2. Provide child victims with the support they need to escape their traffickers and rebuild their lives;
3. Implement the Irish Government’s National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Trafficking in Human Beings 2009-2012; and
4. Ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
Peter Mac Donald, Managing Director of The Body Shop Ireland, says: “Today we are delivering the collective hope of 160,000 people in Ireland. Child trafficking exists within this country and must be acknowledged. The message to An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister Fitzgerald and indeed every Deputy and Senator is clear: use the power entrusted to you to send a clear signal that Ireland will not tolerate this dreadful crime and any child victims will be supported and assisted to regain their childhood.”
Senator Jillian van Turnhout, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, says: “The Alliance is extremely grateful and encouraged that the Irish public took this campaign to their hearts. Child trafficking is a problem at the heart of our communities, not just in Dublin but with cases also found in Sligo, Kilkenny and Wexford. While the State’s Anti-Human Trafficking Unit is making progress, more could be done; in particular, we call on the Government to ratify the UNCRC Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.”
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD, says:
“Last week I launched the new Children’s First Guidelines and have worked to ensure that for the first time ever compliance with these guidelines will be obligatory. Those guidelines were originally created with Irish children in mind. But in a globalised society we can’t assume our responsibilities end at our shoreline. 1.8 million children worldwide are exploited in the sex trade. Children and young people are shipped from state to state as modern slaves, indentured to a life of abuse, disease and violence. That’s why as Minister for Children I was eager Ireland would actively support Ruhama, ECPAT and the other organisations who support women and young people who are victims of sex trafficking and the sex trade by getting behind The Body Shop’s campaign. I am honored to add my handprint to their collection and accept this petition on behalf of the Irish Government."
Christopher Davis, International Campaigns Director, The Body Shop International, explains why The Body Shop spearheaded the campaign: “We have never shied away from tackling controversial issues. This modern-day slave trade must be brought to an end. The Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People campaign has been a catalyst for change. Global commitments to date include:
1. In Malta, the Maltese Government announced the creation of a sex offender’s register, the drafting of a new law and the ratification of the Optional Protocol.
2. Switzerland has committed to appointing a special rapporteur on trafficking and said they want to put all the calls to action to a vote.
3. The Norwegian government has committed to establishing measures for identifying victims of trafficking.
4. In Denmark, the Equality Minister announced that their Government has committed to three of the petition calls to action.
The global total of the petition will be submitted to the UN later this year in a united call for action.
For more information, contact:
Suzanne Keane - Public Relations Manager
The Body Shop Ireland
firstname.lastname@example.org / 00 353 86 7737515
Carys Thomas, Communications Director
Children’s Rights Alliance
email@example.com / 00 353 87 7702845
Notes to Editor:
1. Ireland is one of only four countries in the EU not to have ratified the UNCRC Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
2. The Ireland Progress Card produced by ECPAT International and the Children’s Rights Alliance on trafficking of children and young people in 2010 can be found here: http://bit.ly/r79FoH
3. Republic of Ireland total signatures: 131,822; and Northern Ireland: 33,188.
10.45 am: Speeches – The Body Shop, Grafton Street, Dublin
11.15am: March to Leinster House
11.30am: Handover to Minister Fitzgerald on steps of Leinster House