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UNFPA Global Population Policy Update
Laws and Polices in Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Nepal and Philippines
ISSUE 6 - 18 July 2003
With this issue of the IPCI/ICPD Global Population Policy Update, we highlight several international programmes and laws enacted in Latin America and Asia that help create an enabling environment for ICPD implementation at the national level, one of the major themes of the International Parliamentarians’ Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (21-22 November 2002, Ottawa, Canada).
Argentina Creates Ministry of Health Programme for Sexual Health and Responsible Reproduction
On 26 May 2003, Argentina issued Decree No.1282/2003, which implements Law No. 25673 on sexual health and responsible reproduction. The Decree creates the National Programme for Sexual Health and Responsible Reproduction within the Ministry of Health. It commits the Ministry of Health to provide direction and technical advice to—as well as monitor and evaluate—provincial programmes, with an emphasis on disseminating information and advice on contraceptive methods and their use. The Programme will focus on prevention and risks in order to reduce complications that may affect users. In addition, the Ministry is charged with helping to expand and improve the support network in order to satisfy the demand for services. Under the Decree, minors have a right to receive clear, complete and timely information on contraception. Consultations are to be carried out in a climate of trust, empathy and confidentiality. Minors under the age of 14 are to be accompanied by a parent or a responsible adult. All persons receiving services are to be provided with information on the characteristics, risks and consequences of contraceptive methods; the consent of the user is to be obtained in accordance with their convictions and beliefs. The Decree requires the Ministries of Health, Science and Technology, Education and Social Development to implement mass communication campaigns to disseminate information on the National Programme.
Chile Issues Law Strengthening Prosecution of Sexual Offenses Committed Against Minors
On 6 May 2003, Chile enacted Law No. 19874, which facilitates the prosecution of sexual offenses committed against minors. Among other things, the Law amends Article 369 of the Penal Code to allow persons other than the victim of such an offense to initiate legal proceedings against the perpetrator. Previously, the victim was the only person who could make an accusation. When the victim is not free to make an accusation, or his or her legal representative is implicated in the offense, the public prosecutor can initiate proceedings. In addition, any other person with knowledge of the facts may make an accusation to the authorities.
Guatemala Enacts Law to Protect the Rights of Children and Adolescents
On 4 June 2003, Guatemala enacted the Law for the Integral Protection of Children and Adolescents (Decree No. 27-03). The Law’s objective is to provide a legal instrument for family integration and social promotion. Its purpose is to achieve, with complete respect for human rights, the integral and sustainable development of children and adolescents in a democratic setting. Under the Law, the State must promote and adopt the necessary measures to protect the family legally and socially. It must also ensure that parents and guardians fulfil their obligations with respect to the life, liberty, safety, peace, personal integrity, health, food, education, culture, sport, recreation and family and community harmony of all children and adolescents. The Law guarantees children and adolescents a wide variety of human rights, including the rights to life, equality, liberty, identity, personal integrity, family life, free and obligatory education, adoption and an adequate level of health. Pregnant adolescents are guaranteed medical care and nutrition through pregnancy and childbirth. It provides special protection to employed adolescents, and to children and adolescents who are refugees or have disabilities. It also sets forth measures to protect children and adolescents from trafficking, economic exploitation, sexual exploitation and abuse, mistreatment and the illegal use of drugs, as well as protecting them from information that is harmful to their welfare. The Law lists the duties of parents, children and adolescents. It establishes national and municipal commissions for children and adolescents, a public prosecutor for the human rights of children and adolescents, a department for adolescent workers, a department for children and adolescents within the national police and a special judicial system to deal with the problems of children and adolescents, the violation of their rights and instances when they commit offenses.
Nepal Adopts Poverty Reduction Plan
On 4 February 2003, the government of Nepal adopted its Tenth Plan (Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper). The Plan aims to expedite poverty reduction through economic growth, social sector development, targeted programmes aimed at inclusion of marginalized groups and good governance. The Plan’s priority areas include population stabilization, health sector improvements and promotion of the status of women. The Plan cites the reduction of the fertility rate and the development of an “educated, healthy and skilled” population as long-term population objectives. It advocates programmes to promote adolescent health and education, greater coordination of programmes to promote late marriage and breastfeeding, increased access to reproductive health services and improvement of women’s status. Long-term health care objectives include ensuring all Nepalis equal access to quality health care services; creating demand for smaller families; maintaining “balance” between population growth and economic, social and environmental development; and promoting “healthy and capable human power.” Among the key indicators of progress are availability of reproductive health services and maternity services provided by trained health workers, use of family planning services and a decrease in the infant and maternal mortality rates. Priority programmes include safe motherhood services, reproductive health care for teenagers and programmes to limit the spread of HIV/AIDS. The Plan aims to improve the management of health care services and promote health service decentralization. It also cites the importance of gender mainstreaming, gender equality and women’s empowerment as means of advancing development. Strategies cited are reform of discriminatory laws, inclusion of women in poverty reduction programmes and increasing gender awareness.
The Philippines Enacts Legislation Against Human Trafficking
On 26 May 2003, the Philippines enacted Republic Act No. 9208, entitled the “Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.” According to the Act, it is a crime to: recruit, transport, or receive a person by any means including under the pretext of domestic or overseas employment; introduce or match a person for marriage to a foreign national for money or other consideration; or offer or contract marriage for the purpose of buying, selling or trading the person. It is also illegal to organize tours for the purpose of prostitution, pornography or sexual exploitation; maintain or hire a person to engage in prostitution or pornography; or adopt or facilitate the adoption of persons for the purpose of prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or debt bondage. It is also illegal to recruit, hire, adopt, transport or abduct a person for the purpose of removal or sale of his or her organs. Finally, the Act penalizes the recruitment, transport or adoption of a child to engage in armed activities in the Philippines or abroad. A number of actions deemed to “promote” trafficking are also prohibited. The Act specifies elevated penalties including life imprisonment when: the trafficked person is a child; the offender is a parent or guardian of the trafficked person; or when the trafficked person dies, develops mental illness, suffers mutilation or becomes infected by HIV/AIDS.
Other provisions of the Act mandate the implementation of programmes to prevent trafficking, support trafficked persons and ensure their recovery and reintegration into mainstream society. The Act recognizes trafficked persons as victims, according them exemption from criminal liability and entitlement to enter the Witness Protection Programme. Trafficked foreign nationals are provided the same protection. The Act calls for the establishment of an Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking. It specifies mandatory services to trafficked persons such as emergency shelter, counseling, free legal services, livelihood and skills training, medical or psychological services and educational assistance to a trafficked child. It further provides for the repatriation of foreign trafficked persons and the inclusion of trafficking among extraditable offenses.
This newsletter is issued by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in its capacity as secretariat for the International Parliamentarians’ Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (November 2002, Ottawa, Canada). These dispatches are intended to highlight important developments taking place around the world so that parliamentarians can be kept informed of and learn from the successes, setbacks and challenges encountered by their fellow parliamentarians in other countries and regions in their efforts to promote the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (September 1994, Cairo, Egypt). It should be noted that UNFPA does not necessarily endorse all of the policies described in this newsletter.
Thanks to Center for Reproductive Rights and Harvard University School of Public Health for their contributions to the content of this newsletter.
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