HL Deb 05 July 2004 vol 663 cc62-3WA
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action they have taken to urge the Governments of Brazil, Honduras and Guatemala to prosecute those responsible for the murder of street children: and [HL3389]

What action they have taken to raise concerns with the Government of Brazil regarding the commercial sexual exploitation of children in that country; and [HL3390]

What action they have taken to urge the Governments of Brazil and Honduras to make significant improvements in the living conditions of juvenile detainees. [HL3391]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean:

We have made clear to the Governments of Brazil, Honduras and Guatemala, bilaterally and with our European Union (EU) partners, the importance we attach to respect for human rights, including those of children. We closely monitor the progress being made by the authorities in these countries on this issue and, in particular, on bringing those responsible for the murders of street children to justice.

The chronic and well documented situation faced by street children in Brazil is a matter for concern and forms a regular part of our human rights dialogue with the Brazilian Government. The UK supports a number of practical projects in Brazil including human rights training for the Brazilian police and prison services; a small arms project in the slum areas of Rio de Janeiro, and work in Rio on giving people alternatives to involvement in violent and organised crime. While not exclusively focused on street children, these projects are relevant to many of the problems they face.

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Bill Rammell) raised the plight of street children, and more generally the importance of protecting human rights, with the new Guatemalan Government during his visit there in January and with the Honduran Security Minister Oscar Alvarez during his visit to the UK in March. The UK and EU partners recently issued a statement at the consultative group meeting for Honduras in Tegucigalpa, which among other things, encouraged the Honduran Government to continue the progress made on improving human rights, making reference to the rights of children.

The UK has also supported projects in Guatemala and Honduras to improve the conditions of and protect vulnerable children.