CRC ASIA’S STATEMENT ON THE 2018 ASIAN GAMES

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Raise the bar for children’s rights in the 2018 Asian Games

Child Rights Coalition Asia (CRC Asia) calls on the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and the Indonesia Asian Games 2018 Organizing Committee (INASGOC) to advance the fulfilment of the rights of the child in the conduct of the 18th Asian Games Jakarta Palembang 2018.

On 18 August 2018 to 2 September 2018, the cities of Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia will be hosting the second largest multi-sport event after the Olympic Games. As general knowledge, an international sporting event significantly affects the local people in the host cities, with the children and adolescents being particularly vulnerable.[1] In this regard, CRC Asia is urging OCA and the Government of Indonesia’s INASGOC to take special measures to protect the rights of children in conducting the 2018 Asian Games and, consequently, contribute to raising the bar for children’s rights in international sporting events.

CRC Asia is asking the organizers and hosts of the 2018 Asian Games to:

  1. Implement awareness-raising efforts to prevent sexual exploitation and child trafficking

Sexual exploitation is one of the four key child rights violations that happen around mega sporting events [2] but interventions on this, including on human trafficking for sexual purposes, are mainly adult-focused [3]. According to research [4], child sexual exploitation is “invisible” in international sporting events because (1) it is hidden behind existing social problems, such as poverty, domestic violence, or family displacement due to “street clearing” drives or construction of sports stadiums; (2) girls, boys, and other children who experience sexual exploitation are not perceived as victims; and (3) victimization happens to children belonging to marginalized and vulnerable groups of society.

A handful of previous mega sporting events have made an effort to address the invisibility of child sexual exploitation in its list of concerns by conducting child rights-centred interventions [5]. The 2018 Asian Games could learn from these in implementing its own awareness-raising efforts to prevent sexual exploitation and trafficking of children, especially those near the sporting venues and athlete’s village.

Starting with the acknowledgement that children are vulnerable to sexual violence during international sporting events, the 2018 Asian Games should have a campaign to inform the public about the risks of child sexual exploitation and child trafficking associated with the influx of people. The awareness-raising campaign should also provide safety tips to children and parents; advice on ways to take action against violations; emergency numbers to report incidents; and information for tourists and visitors about the country’s laws against child sexual exploitation and child trafficking.

  1. Include child protection measures in the event’s security policy

CRC Asia acknowledges the efforts of INASGOC to involve children in street situations in hosting the 2018 Asian Games [6]. CRC Asia looks forward to knowing more from INASGOC about the implementation of these efforts, and hopes that these are conducted with sustainability and with the principles of non-discrimination, best interests of the child, right to survival and development, and child participation in accordance with the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Anchoring on INASGOC’s awareness on the vulnerability and marginalization of children in street situations, CRC Asia also hopes that INASGOC will not resort to the “cleaning up” of children in the streets, an action commonly related to the issue of police violence during mega sporting events [7]. Instead, INASGOC should implement child protection measures in engaging with children in street situations who are most likely to be in contact with the tourists and visitors, as well as with the police patrolling the streets. These child protection measures should be incorporated into the event’s security policy, ensuring that all police officers, security personnel, and other law enforcement authorities are aware of these measures. All affected children should be able to enjoy these child protection measures, including those children who may become in conflict with the law in connection with the security procedures for the 2018 Asian Games.

  1. Safeguard the rights of child athletes

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, 10 per cent of all children active in sports experienced child rights violations and another 20 per cent are at risk of having their rights violated [8]. Child athletes can experience sexual harassment, sexual abuse, physical violence, psychological violence, and bullying [9].

In bringing together people from different parts of the region, OCA and INASGOC have to ensure that the 2018 Asian Games is a safe space for athletes below 18 years of age. Child athletes should be treated with respect and be consulted in decisions that affect them. The organizers and hosts of the sporting event, as well as the coaches and adult teammates and athletes, should provide special protection to child athletes and act based on the best interests of the children.

  1. Ensure an appropriate action plan in response to the suspension of school classes

CRC Asia acknowledges the mitigation effort of Indonesia’s Ministry of Education and Culture to ensure that the student’s total learning hours for the school year are not affected despite the closing down of all schools in Jakarta to decongest traffic during the 2018 Asian Games [10]. CRC Asia would like to raise, however, that suspension of school classes during international sporting events does not only affect the children’s education but also their safety. Suspension of school classes contributes to the likelihood that children and adolescents will be left unsupervised, increasing their vulnerability to experience the harsh effects of the international sporting event [11], such as being a victim of child sexual exploitation [12].

As such, OCA and INASGOC, in partnership with Indonesia’s Ministry of Education and Culture, should develop action plans to reduce the risks of child rights violations due to the suspension of school classes. This may include school-based activities that aim to empower children to protect themselves. To ensure effectiveness, these efforts should be implemented in a child-friendly manner and in a language that children can understand.

  1. Establish investigation, reporting, response, and rights-based monitoring mechanisms

Along with the awareness-raising campaigns and child protection measures, the organizers and hosts of 2018 Asian Games should establish investigation, reporting, and response mechanisms to address violations of children’s rights around the international sporting event. These mechanisms should be accessible, functional, and child-friendly. Furthermore, OCA and INASGOC could take on the recommendation from child rights and human rights advocates to support an external independent monitoring board composed of experts and stakeholders to ensure that the rights of the child are upheld in mega sporting events [13].

  1. Implement an impact assessment of the 2018 Asian Games

As part of ensuring a rights-based approach to the conduct of the 2018 Asian Games, OCA and INASGOC should implement an assessment of risks and opportunities to children and their families before, during, and after the sporting event. The assessment should be integrated with appropriate responses that comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

  1. Consider establishing a human rights policy for the Asian Games

Lastly, OCA should consider joining the other international sports organizations and governing bodies that have established their own human rights policy [14] or incorporated specific human rights criteria [15] in organizing and hosting their sporting events. OCA should establish its own human rights policy – with benchmarks for the realization of the rights of the child in accordance with the principles of non-discrimination, best interests of the child, right to survival and development, and child participation – in the conduct of the 2018 Asian Games and of all the future Asian Games.

About Child Rights Coalition Asia (CRC Asia)

CRC Asia is a network of child rights organizations working together to be a strong voice for child rights in the region by leading in strengthening child rights movements, promoting innovative programs, and advocating better policies for and with the children.

List of supporting CRC Asia members: Child Rights Coalition Cambodia, Hong Kong Committee on Children’s Rights, Sahabut Perempuan dan Anak Indonesia, Yayasan KKSP Education and Information Centre for Child Rights (Indonesia), Yayasan SEJIWA (Indonesia), Village Focus International (Lao PDR), Protect and Save the Children (Malaysia), Equality Myanmar, Child Workers in Nepal Concerned Centre, Group Development Pakistan, Mindanao Action Group for Children’s Rights to Protection (Philippines), Child Welfare League Foundation (Taiwan), The Life Skills Development Foundation (Thailand), Childline Thailand Foundation, and Vietnam Association for the Protection of Children’s Rights.


Footnotes:

[1] FGV Dirieto SP. (2016). Impacts of mega sporting events on children and youth rights: Recommendations for FIFA and the IOC form the analysis of the bidding process to host the games in Brazil.↩

[2] University of Dundee. (2015). Let’s win this game together: Documenting violations of children’s rights around the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.↩

[3] The other three are police and army violence, displacement, and sexual exploitation; Brunel University London. (2013). Child sexual exploitation and FIFA World Cup: A review of risks and protective interventions. ↩

[4] ECPAT International. (2016). Child exploitation: What do mega sporting events have to do with it?↩

[5] Terre des Hommes International Foundation partnered with ARSIS in Greece on raising awareness to prevent child trafficking during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece; UNICEF, in collaboration with the Government of South Africa, implemented the Red Card Campaign at the 2010 FIFA World Cup to reduce the children’s vulnerability to sexual exploitation.↩

[6] Asian Games 2018. Goes to school program teaches sporting values to children. Retrieved fromhttps://en.asiangames2018.id/news/articles/goes-to-school-program-teaches-sporting-values-to-street-children/↩

[7]Children Win, Terre des Hommes International Federation. (2018). The issues. Retrieved fromhttps://www.childrenwin.org/the-issues/ ; University of Dundee. (2015). Let’s win this game together: Documenting violations of children’s rights around the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.↩

[8] Teglbjærg, Mathias. (2015, February 12). Children’s rights are still widely ignored in sport. Retrieved fromhttp://www.playthegame.org/news/news-articles/2015/0011_children-s-rights-are-still-widely-ignored-in-sport/↩

[9] Based on the data from the expert group to the European Commission as mentioned in World Players Association. (2017). Declaration on safeguarding the rights of child athletes.↩

[10] Arbi, Ivany Atina. (2018, April 6). City to close schools during Asian Games to ease traffic. Retrieved fromhttp://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/06/city-to-close-schools-during-asian-games-to-ease-traffic.html↩

[11] FGV Dirieto SP. (2016). Impacts of mega sporting events on children and youth rights: Recommendations for FIFA and the IOC form the analysis of the bidding process to host the games in Brazil.↩

[12] Brunel University London. (2013). Child sexual exploitation and FIFA World Cup: A review of risks and protective interventions.↩

[13] Joint written statement submitted by Terre des Hommes Federation Internationale, Defence for Children International, Verein Sudwin Entwicklungspolitik, Vienna Institute for Development and Cooperation, non-governmental organizations in special consultative status, received and circulated during the United Nations Human Rights Council 32nd session. (2016).↩

[14] Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) published its landmark human rights policy in May 2017↩

[15] International Olympic Committee (IOC) have included human rights criteria in the Host City Contract↩

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