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Child rights activist to serve second UN term

Jean Zermatten has been re-elected to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child for another four years.

The 60-year-old from canton Valais is currently vice-chair of the committee and was approved in a first round of voting by signatory states with 125 votes, the best result of the 18 membership posts being reviewed.

Zermatten said he was pleased to be re-elected and noted that it was one of the best signs of recognition for his work.

Looking ahead, he said the global fight against abuse, pornography and prostitution involving children had to be intensified.

In Switzerland the work of the federal government and cantons in education needed to be better coordinated, he added, while also proposing the creation of the post of a national ombudsman to defend children's rights.

"Switzerland attaches great importance to human rights and is pleased at the election of a Swiss candidate who can contribute his expertise to the committee," the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

A lawyer specialising in juvenile justice in Valais between 1972 and 2005, Zermatten now teaches at Fribourg University and serves as director of the International Institute for the Rights of the Child.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is composed of 18 independent experts of high moral character with recognised competence in the field of human rights.


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