Support for rights of the child and human rights in Myanmar

Media release

7 June 2012

Foreign Minister Bob Carr today announced a new $3 million package of Australian assistance for human rights initiatives in Myanmar.

Senator Carr said the package would assist the Government of Myanmar to meet human rights commitments, including obligations to the youngest members of Myanmar society.

Rights of the Child

"With Australia's support, UNICEF will help the Government of Myanmar to strengthen the rights of at-risk children in the juvenile justice system and help meet international obligations, particularly those under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

"We will help the Myanmar Government to implement key legal reforms such as increasing the age of criminal responsibility from seven to 14 years of age, and raising the legal age of a child from 16 to 18 years.

The support through UNICEF will also help the Government of Myanmar to design and implement a national child protection policy in line with the Myanmar Child Law.

"Australia has long been an advocate of human rights in Myanmar — particularly for children, who are most vulnerable to human rights abuses," Senator Carr said.

There are more than 18 million children and young people in Myanmar under 18 years old.

Myanmar is a state party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Australia will support its efforts to strengthen the protections it provides to children through its juvenile justice and social welfare systems.

Human rights training

Australia will also provide support to address broader human rights issues through policy development and training of government officials.

"Australia has a strong reputation in this area having undertaken human rights training in Myanmar from 2000-2003.

"Australia will be supporting academics from the University of Sydney and Australian National University to identify human rights priorities and how these may be addressed through parliamentary practices, the rule of law and the justice system.

"We will also undertake capacity building for the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission.

"Encouraging improvements in human rights has been part of Australia's engagement with Myanmar for many years, including through assistance to Myanmar's conflict-affected communities," Senator Carr said.

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