Promoting children's rights in the Congo

Promoting children's rights in the Congo

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Apprentis d’Auteuil works for children’s rights with its partners in France and internationally. An example with REIPER, the network of associations acting for children from broken homes in the Republic of Congo. In this interview its coordinator, Joseph Likibi, highlights the challenges of this partnership.

What is the situation as regards children’s rights in the Congo ?

Joseph Likibi, REIPER coordinator:
In the Congo, out of 2.3 million children - 45% of the population  - 82% are victims of violence. Nearly 5% are not registered at birth. They cannot attend school or sit exams. 65% do not go to school, especially among the native population. Three thousand children live on the street. Health and Education, which in principle are free, in reality, are not.

However, the Congo has ratified two major international texts: The International Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. The country has passed a law protecting the child to harmonise its legislation with these texts. But no one is familiar with these laws and they are not enforced. Some do not even have implementation decrees.
These children are future citizens. If we show contempt for their rights there is a risk they may do the same to others, because that is what they have experienced. It’s as if they’ve received ‘topsy-turvy education’, which shows that rights can be violated. It’s dangerous for them and for society.

How is Apprentis d'Auteuil supporting you in this area?

Apprentis d’Auteuil is a long-standing partner. They have been supporting us since 2015 in the ‘Promotion and respect for children’s rights’ project ,which is funded by the European Union. This project makes children aware of their rights to education, health and family life and encourages them to explain these rights to the adults around them...

Among the actions undertaken, REIPER commemorated the International Convention on the Rights of the Child at the French Institute in the Congo, from 22nd to 24th November 2018, with the support of Apprentis d’Auteuil. This enabled the 900 children homed by REIPER in Brazzaville to speak up. If the children themselves talk about their rights, the message is different and better received!  
Children’s’ Rights in the Congo championed at the UN!

The Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council

Another example of the partnership between Apprentis d’Auteuil and REIPER: on 14th November 2018, the Republic of Congo underwent the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to which each Member State submits itself every 4 years as part of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Member States who attended the session made numerous recommendations to the Congo concerning child protection. Some have continued with the requests sent by Apprentis d’Auteuil and REIPER. In particular, the establishment of an independent body to monitor the rights of children and to take into account the rights of children with disabilities. It’s the first time that the terrible plight of these children has attracted the attention of the international community.
‘Our intervention has made it possible to bring the advocacy that we do at local level to an international body and to emphasise to the government that although some progress has been made, many challenges remain’, says Joseph Likibi.

Apprentis d’Auteuil is a deeply committed catholic foundation, recognized as promoting the public interest in France and in more than 50 countries. Thanks to the expertise and experience of the foundation and their partners, Apprentis d’Auteuil have been able to supervise more than 23.000 children in France and almost 20.000 children and families worldwide. Its main goal is to help youth in difficulty by conducting educational projects and to boost their ability to participate in society as full-fledged citizens by promoting training and insertion programs worldwide. In addition to their actions towards helping vulnerable children, Apprentis d’Auteuil and their partners assist struggling parents in their family obligations, with coeducation as the guiding principle. The key purpose is to improve the management of children under their care and to enable them to grow as free and responsible adults. To make a donation for education – Please contact the foundation for underprivileged children Apprentis d’Auteuil.