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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 


HISTORIC FORUM ON THE ABUSE OF CHILDREN’S RIGHTS
HELD IN ROME

Four of the World’s Preeminent International Organizations to Launch Global Initiative to Protect Children from Abuse and Sexual Exploitation

ROME, ITALY--3 November, 2011 -- An unusual and historic meeting involving four of the world’s preeminent international organizations is being held on 3 November in Rome to address the growing problem of the abuse of children’s rights.  The forum titled, “The World’s Children and the Abuse of Their Rights”, is being conducted by the US-based International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) and SOS II Telefono Azzurro Onlus, in collaboration with renowned Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù and the internationally acclaimed Mayo Clinic.  “The objective of the forum is to launch a global initiative against the continuing abuse of the rights of children, focusing on the growing phenomenon of child sexual exploitation,” said James Cannavino, Chairman of the Board of ICMEC.  “The violation of children’s rights is not just a legal or enforcement issue, it is a global public health crisis that is affecting the lives and well-being of millions of children.”    

The abuse of the rights of children through child pornography, trafficking, child sexual exploitation and other abuse is a growing problem around the world.  Children are treated as commodities and are in great need of advocacy and protection.   The objective of the forum is to raise global awareness about the growing problem of the abuse of the rights of children and work with global leaders to develop a plan to address the problem on a worldwide basis.  A “Declaration of Rome”, a detailed action plan for protecting the world’s children will be released at the conclusion of the forum.    

“This crisis requires new thinking, new approaches, and new global awareness,” said Ernie Allen, President & CEO of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children.  “The United Nations and other regional and global organizations have enacted many important conventions, treaties, protocols and resolutions seeking to protect the world’s children.  Yet, there is abundant evidence that the rights of the world’s children are being violated on a daily basis in all parts of the globe.”

The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) estimates that at least 8 million children go missing each year; that at least 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys will be sexually victimized in some way before childhood; and that at least 1.8 million children are victimized each year through commercial sexual exploitation.
The rights of children are violated in many other ways.  This is a global crisis.  The only way to end child exploitation is to create a global community of public and private sector leaders willing to take a stand against this terrible abuse of children’s rights.

“The world has to understand that this is a serious problem and look to governments and international bodies to prevent child abuse and exploitation in all its forms,” said Professor Ernesto Caffo, President of SOS II Telefono Azzurro Onlus. “Yet, government alone is not the answer. We must launch a global movement that involves business and private sector leaders to join with government in order to find and implement new approaches and effective solutions. We must speak together in a strong, loud voice, demanding change and calling upon the entire society, especially families, to act. It is crucial that young people are part of this process.”

The Italian government is serving as host for the meeting which is being held in the Senate of Italy.    

“Italy is honored to host this extraordinary forum,” stated the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, Franco Frattini.  “The abuse of the rights of children is not just an Italian issue or a European issue or an American issue, it is a global issue.  The only way to end child exploitation is to create a global community of public and private sector leaders willing to take a stand against these terrible abuses of children’s rights.”

Opening comments at the forum will be made by the President of the Italian Senate; the Minister of Justice of Italy; the Minister of Interior of Italy; the Minister of Equal Opportunity of Italy, and the President Emeritus of the Constitutional Court of Italy.  Pre-taped messages will be delivered by the President of the Republic of Italy and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy.    

Other speakers include James Cannavino, Chairman, Board of Directors, International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children; Margarida Sousa Uva Barroso, Wife of the President of the European Commission and a member of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children Honorary Board; and Cardinal Martino, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.  

Serving as moderators for the forum are Ernie Allen, President & CEO of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children and Professor Ernesto Caffo, President of SOS II Telefono Azzurro Onlus. 

Many other distinguished speakers and experts are participating in the forum including

  • Baron Daniel Cardon de Lichtbuer, founder of Child Focus in Belgium, founder of Missing Children Europe, and Chairman Emeritus, International Centre Missing & Exploited Children;
  • Dr. Stefano Vicari, Head of the Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry Unit of Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesu;
  • Dr. Patricia Simmons, Chair of the Mayo Clinic’s Division of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology and Executive Medical Director of Health Policy;
  • Sir John Stanley, Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom;
  • Dr. Sharon Cooper, Forensic Pediatrician from the University of North Carolina (US);
  •  Dr. James Levine, physician, leader in the fight against child sex trafficking and author of “The Blue Notebook,”;  
  • Pavel Astakhov, Commissioner of Children’s Rights for the Russian Federation;
  • Monsignor Charles Scicluna, Promoter of Justice at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith;
  • Roberta Angelilli, Vice President of the European Parliament; and many others.

A copy of the “Declaration of Rome”, a detailed action plan for protecting the world’s children will be available at the conclusion of the forum. 

About the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children
The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children is a private, nonprofit 501(c) (3) nongovernmental organization.  It is the leading agency working on a global basis to combat child abduction and exploitation.  It is the sister organization of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children located in the United States.

About S.O.S. II Telefono Azzurro Onus
S.O.S. Telefono Azzurro Onus was founded in Italy in 1987 as a non-profit organization committed to the prevention of child abuse and neglect.  It has become a reference point for children and adolescents in difficulty and living at risk.

MEDIA CONTACTS: 

International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children
Catherine Cummings, ccummings@icmec.org,
(845) 729-5934 (Inside the US) or + 845-729-5934 (Outside the US)

S.O.S. Telephone Azzurro Onus
ufficio.presidenza@azzurro.it

 
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