Pope Francis reiterates call for zero tolerance to violence against children in meeting with SRSG Santos Pais


Vatican City, 18 March 2017 – In a private audience at the Apostolic Palace, SRSG Santos Pais met with Pope Francis to enhance cooperation in children's protection from violence.

The Pontiff reiterated his call for a ‘zero tolerance’ policy and reaffirmed the high priority given by the Holy See to protecting the rights of all girls and boys who are victims of violence, neglect, maltreatment, abuse and exploitation. "This is a plague, a hidden scream that should be heard by all of us," highlighted Pope Francis, further recognizing the need to “take all necessary measures to protect in every way the lives of our children, so that such crimes may never be repeated”.

Special Representative Santos Pais congratulates the Chilean Government on the passing of the "Law on the abuse of children and adolescents, the elderly and persons with disabilities”


Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais, warmly welcomes the passing by the Senate of Chile of the "Law on the abuse of children and adolescents, the elderly and persons with disabilities."

This new law provides that an act of corporal abuse that is "relevant" within the meaning of the legislation will be considered a crime. This rule implies a departure from the concept of habitual mistreatment that regulates the domestic violence law already in force in the country, which requires that the abuse cause harm as a result of bodily injury to the victim´s physical integrity.

In addition, this Bill punishes those who subject a person protected by the legislation to degrading treatment that seriously impairs their dignity with the penalty of imprisonment in their minimum degree (61 to 540 days).

Special Representative on Violence against Children places the protection of children from violence at the heart of the debate in the Human Rights Council

SRSG Santos Pais placed the protection of children from violence at the heart of the 34thsession of the Human Rights Council where the rights of the child and large movements of migrants were discussed from 6 to 10 March. 
The annual full-day meeting on the rights of the child on 6 March focused on the protection of the rights of the child in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda was the central theme also in the SRSG annual report to the Council (A/HRC/34/45), which was presented on 7 March. 

SRSG Santos Pais calls for strengthened regional efforts to keep children’s protection from violence at the heart of implementation of the SDG agenda


Jakarta (Indonesia) - Meeting with the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children (ACWC), SRSG Santos Pais noted the important foundation provided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the ASEAN Regional Plan of Action to End Violence against Children, adopted at the 27th ASEAN Summit in November 2015 for translating into reality the ambitious goal of building a world free from fear and from violence for all children.

“Investing in children and violence prevention is a pathway towards sustainable development and a critical step to strengthen peaceful and cohesive societies in the ASEAN region and beyond” highlighted Santos Pais. 

SRSG Santos Pais welcomes Indonesia’s commitment to put children at the heart of SDG implementation


Jakarta (Indonesia) – Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais, congratulated Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo for his leadership role in working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). 

“The President’s commitment to place children at the heart of the country’s development agenda is highly impressive,” Santos Pais said after the 45-minute exchange at the State Palace in Jakarta on Monday, in which the Ministers of Education, of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection, and Minister of State Secretariat, as well as the UNICEF Representative in Indonesia and her team participated. 

SRSG Santos Pais in Malaysia - Investment in early childhood is key to overcome poverty, exclusion and lays the foundation for a violence free upbringing


Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) – SRSG Santos Pais has concluded a three day visit to Malaysia with her participation as key note speaker in the national Forum on Violence-free Early Childhood. The Forum was organized by the Early Childhood Care and Education Council of Malaysia and UNICEF and brought together more than 150 policy makers, early childhood educators, academia, parents, caregivers and other key stakeholders in Malaysia to discuss strategies for creating a violence-free environment for young children.

In her keynote address, the SRSG stressed that “Ending violence in early childhood is first and foremost a question of children’s rights. Neglect, abuse and ill-treatment can have severe and lasting impact on children’s development and wellbeing. But in addition, inaction can have serious economic costs for society”.

Children’s protection from violence gains further ground with legislative developments in Africa and Europe to ensure conformity with international and regional human rights standards


SRSG welcomes amendments to Malawi’s Constitution banning marriage before the age of 18 and to Lithuania’s Law on the Fundamentals of Protection of the Rights of the Child prohibiting corporal punishment against children.

Globally, Malawi is among the countries with the highest rates of child marriage in the world. Recent data shows nearly 1 in 2 girls are married before age 18, with debilitating and often long-term consequences, including increased risk of suffering violence and abuse and compromising their right to education and health.

In February 2015, the Government of Malawi enacted the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act (MDFRA). The act banned marriage for any person below the age of 18 but legal exceptions remained foreseen in the Malawian Constitution, which allowed 15-17 year olds to marry upon parental consent.

SRSG report to the Human Rights Council urges accelerated progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to build a world free from violence for all children


Children’s protection from violence is a legal and ethical imperative and it is also a distinct priority in the global sustainable development agenda. Ensuring progress in implementation, follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda targets on violence against children needs to be at the heart of the policy agenda of every nation. But to achieve this goal, leadership and accountability are of the essence and in all actions it is vital to honour the pledge of leaving no child behind. Children on the move, especially those who are unaccompanied or separated from their families, are amongst those for whom the ambitious vision of Agenda 2030 remains distant and illusory. It is crucial to transform the continuum of violence that shapes their lives into a continuum of protection, highlighted SRSG Santos Pais.