Wednesday, February 18, 2009

UNICEF and CICIG Join to Fight Crimes Against Children

The United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF) and the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) signed today a cooperation agreement to "fight against impunity for crimes against Guatemalan children."

"Violence and impunity in Guatemala is a public health issue, and when this affects a child it becomes something intolerable by any standard, legal, ethical, or humane," said Andriana Gonzalez, Spanish representative of UNICEF in Guatemala during the signing of the agreement.

The agreement aims at mutual collaboration in the development of studies about the impact of impunity in children, support for legal reforms, and the development of proposals regarding the justice system and security.

According to UNICEF, an average of 46 children are killed every month in Guatemala. Most are victims of firearms. In January of this year, there were 58 cases of violent deaths of children and adolescents.

CICIG, which is led by the Spanish jurist Carlos Castresana is investigating the mafia and organized crime that have been embedded into the structures of the state in order to promote impunity, said last year that 98 percent of the violence occurring in Guatemala "will go unpunished."

"The impunity and with it the violence, is staining the lives of children throughout the country. The impunity surrounding a child's daily life. Impunity is generating trauma in Guatemalan children. The high rate of impunity in Guatemala sends a wrong message to children about the concepts of justice and responsibility," said Gonzalez.

Spanish judge Castresana said that "the unification of efforts of the two UN agencies is essential to achieving the objectives of the mandates of both organizations to protect the rights of children." He went on to say, "The phenomenon of violence in Guatemala is serious because the institutions responsible for fighting it are not yet prepared to give adequate responses. Violence against children is greater than all other unpunished violence because their vulnerability is greater."

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