July 20, 2024
English TKP News

Costa Rica: headquarters of regional meeting for child protection aligned with sustainable tourism

This is the XVII Annual Meeting of the Regional Action Group of the Americas (GARA)

For the first time, Costa Rica is hosting the Annual Meeting of the Regional Action Group of the Americas (GARA) from June 3 to 7, in which joint strategies and actions will be developed to prevent the sexual exploitation of girls, boys and adolescents. in travel and tourism.

This meeting has the participation of representatives of tourism authorities from Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and observer members such as the Inter-American Institute of Children and Adolescents of the OAS (INN-OAS) and ECPAT International, a global network of civil society organizations that works to end the sexual exploitation of minors.

During this meeting, precisely, the delegates participated in activities that highlight our country’s commitment to sustainable tourism and the protection of the rights of girls, boys and adolescents. The participation of Dr. Najat Maala M’jid, Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations on Violence against Children (UNSRSG), stands out.

“Our country has been working for a long time on the protection of children and adolescents in tourism and is part of our sustainability model that includes the Code of Conduct that addresses this issue and certifies entrepreneurs. Precisely, this regional activity comes to reinforce this relevant topic with the exchange of opinions and experiences, success stories of the countries, generating new strategies and actions that will allow our children and adolescents to live a better life,” highlighted the Minister of Tourism, William Rodríguez.

As part of this event, the Regional Action Group of the Americas (GARA) will reinforce the work to develop policies, programs and strategies that protect minors and promote ethical tourism in the region from each ministry of tourism or tourism secretariat of The member countries, in addition, seek to call things by their name and therefore insist on not recognizing the terms “sexual tourism or child sexual tourism” as forms of tourism, that a criminal activity is not legitimized as an accepted and legal form. recognizes and rejects the use of these terms, naming those who visit destinations with the aim of exploiting human beings as criminals and not as tourists.

The ICT Code of Conduct Program against the Sexual Exploitation of Girls, Boys and Adolescents (ESNNA) promotes responsible and ethical practices in the tourism sector, committing companies and organizations to adopt commitments, policies and actions that protect minors.

Joint efforts for childhood and adolescence

On Tuesday, June 4, the opening panel was held: “Challenges to address the sexual exploitation of girls, boys and adolescents in the post-COVID era”, with Dr. Najat Maala M’jid, Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations on Violence against Children (UNSRSG).

Najat Maalla M’jid, from Morocco, was the UN special rapporteur between 2008 and 2014 on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, she is a doctor specialized in pediatrics and has participated for the last two decades in the protection of children. vulnerable children. She is a member of the Commission on the Rights of the Child of the Moroccan Human Rights Advisory Council and founder of the Non-Governmental Organization BAYTI, the first program in charge of addressing the situation of children living on the streets in Morocco.

The Minister of Tourism, William Rodríguez, held an audience with Maala M’jid, to generate joint actions on the issue in the medium and long term.

Parallel to the GARA meeting, on June 4, the “Intersectoral Dialogue on the Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Girls, Boys and Adolescents at the Regional Level” was held, organized in conjunction with ECPAT International, the PANIAMOR Foundation and the ICT, this brought together GARA delegates and representatives from key sectors such as travel and tourism, transportation, finance, and information and communications technologies.

The objective was to address the challenges and gaps in child protection, promoting safe environments and active participation of girls, boys and adolescents. This day, working groups will be organized among all sectors present in order to direct the Americas towards better execution of strategies for the prevention of commercial sexual exploitation of girls, boys and adolescents (ESNNA).

Guillaume Landry, Executive Director of ECPAT International, said that “technologies, migration, humanitarian crises, crime and climate change have dramatically changed the way children are sexually exploited around the world, including the Americas. “This approach offers an opportunity for the various sectors dedicated to ending the sexual exploitation of children to align their understanding of current trends across the region and ensure that strategies and approaches remain relevant in a rapidly changing world.” .

That day also took place a special meeting with Mrs. Najat Maalla M’jid, who shared a dinner with GARA members to discuss the challenges faced by the Americas on issues of protection of children and adolescents in travel and tourism. In addition, ways to strengthen each country’s codes of conduct to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse in tourism were discussed.

“The comprehensive protection of the rights of minors and the prevention of their commercial sexual exploitation are the responsibility of society as a whole. Although the State is the first obliged to prevent and respond, the private sector and civil society have a fundamental responsibility in articulating effective actions that reduce the vulnerability of this population to this social scourge that threatens their health, their development and their lives. The scenario is complex, there are many fronts to cover in this fight and only together, from our responsibilities and complementary capabilities, will we be able to impact the political, social, cultural and economic conditions in our region” concluded Oscar Valverde Cerros, executive director of the PANIAMOR Foundation.

On June 5 and 6, GARA representatives visited La Fortuna, an iconic sustainable tourism destination in Costa Rica.

It was precisely in the Northern Zone where the XVII Annual Meeting of GARA was held, which took place in an environment that exemplified the best practices in responsible tourism. The country representations had the opportunity to learn first-hand about sustainable tourism initiatives implemented in the region, which promote the social, cultural and economic development of local communities. One of these initiatives became known when visiting Místico Park, a company that has both the Tourism Sustainability Certification (CST) and is committed to the Code of Conduct Program to prevent the commercial sexual exploitation of girls, boys and adolescents (CSEC) and They held the last work session to generate conclusions, as well as regional strategies in the near future.

Source: ICT.

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