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Friday, June 13, 2003

ILO: 'Child Trafficking'-Geneva

Queen Rania stresses the need for world governments to come together and put an end to child trafficking

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department - Geneva) Her Majesty Queen Rania stressed that it was time for governments the world over to come together and put an end to child trafficking.

Describing the practice as “one of the very worst forms of abuse” the Queen pointed out it is “a crime that affects millions of children and their families.”

With an audience of over 300 at the 91st International Labour Organisation conference held on the 2nd World Day Against Child Labour, the Queen said it was important for countries everywhere to acknowledge the problem as a first step towards finding solutions to eliminate the “horror of child trafficking.”

“One more trafficked child is one too many ... Surely there is no shame in admitting that evil exists. There is only shame in knowing it exists and turning our heads away.” In this age of information, denial is no longer an option, Her Majesty warned, saying the “best possible course is to acknowledge the problem, ask for help, and do what needs to be done.”

The Queen, accompanying His Majesty King Abdullah on a one-day working visit to Geneva, said significant strides had been made in the Middle East since the 1st Regional Conference on Child Labour was held in the capital in 1998.

Jordan, she said, has completed the first phase in establishing a strong country programme to combat child labour and child trafficking.

She did note, however, that the fight against child labour has been hampered by gaps in laws and law enforcement — not just in origin — but also in transit and destination countries. Even in advanced democracies, the Queen pointed out, the issue has only recently been put on the national agenda.

During her speech,“The Heartbreak of Child Trafficking: Shattered Dreams and Stolen Lives,” Her Majesty emphasised the importance of raising awareness and finding comprehensive and sustainable solutions to child trafficking.

According to the Queen, the phenomenon is fuelled by poverty, the lack of education, conflict or unrest and natural disasters, which uproot families from their homes. “With child trafficking, public awareness is key ... We need better education at all levels. Better training for law enforcement. Better rehabilitation for trafficked children when they come home.

National governments must commit themselves to prevent, protect and prosecute. And internationally, we all must agree to tackle this problem together,” said the Queen. During the visit, Their Majesties met with ILO President Juan Somavia and the Jordanian delegation to the ILO conference.

The World Day Against Child Labour is a major awareness-raising and visibility activity of the ILO against child labour. It was officially launched on June 12, 2002 to focus worldwide attention on the movement against child labour.

Last year, the Queen visited the ILO Geneva headquarters, where she highlighted the importance of the ILO-Jordanian partnership.

The visit was followed by a