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Saudi council votes to protect children from exploitation

Members of Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council expressed majority support for an international agreement that protects the rights of children.

April 12, 2010 3:35 by

The Shoura Council adopted on Sunday a decision to join an international agreement for protecting the rights of children.

The agreement, known as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, guarantees the protection of children from being sold, prostituted, and used in pornography and armed conflicts.

In a press statement, the Shoura’s secretary-general, Abdullah Al-Ghamdi, said the majority of the council’s members voted in favor of joining the agreement.

“The human rights committee gave a detailed description to the council on the protocol … which has 17 articles and aims to protect children from sexual and economic exploitation,” he said.

“The protocol also makes it binding on governments to protect children from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. The articles of the protocol also express concern at the sale and exploitation of children in some countries,” he added.

“The optional protocol on children and armed conflict aims to protect children from being forced into conflicts and wars, and from being forced to carry weapons. The protocol stipulates that member states should take measures to ensure that no children under 18 shall be recruited into the military,” he said.

Commenting on the council’s decision, Abdullah Dahlan, the Kingdom’s representative to the International Labor Organization who is also a former member of the Saudi Shoura Council, said the decision is a positive step forward.

“Saudi Arabia is a country where children are hardly forced to work and exploited. In fact, all child beggars seen on streets are non-Saudi. Their numbers are falling as strict measures, such as deportation of their families, are being taken to stop them from being exploited,” he said.

The Shourah Council’s decision will be submitted to senior authorities for further action


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