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Children's lobby raises its voice

About 230,000 children in Switzerland live below the bread line

(Keystone)

The Swiss authorities are facing increasing pressure to improve implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Child Rights Network said legal loopholes made it difficult to combat violence, poverty and discrimination.

The network, which is made up of 40 youth organisations, called for a series of measures to close loopholes and ensure the implementation of international children's rights.

Switzerland was the 190th country to ratify the UN convention in 1997.

The lobby group criticised the absence of a government service that monitors whether laws and official decisions are compatible with the rights of children.

Judges, politicians and the administration also often failed to consider the interests of children, said network representatives on Monday in the Swiss capital, Bern.

Nationwide programme

They presented a ten-point programme aimed at boosting suicide prevention, combating drug addiction and fighting violence and poverty among children.

The lobby group estimates that up to 230,000 youngsters in Switzerland live in poverty.

It added that child allowances and alimonies differed from region to region under Switzerland's federal system, which grants the country's 26 cantons a high degree of autonomy.

The network also said under-age children with asylum-seeker status should not be denied access to education.

It called for increased efforts to raise public awareness of a child's right to grow up in an environment free from violence.

The programme was published at a meeting organised by the Child Rights Network and the Federal Social Insurance Office.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Ten-point programme of the Child Rights Network:

1. Give the highest priority to the well-being of children.
2. Create a framework law for a children's special policy.
3. Improve implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
4. Improve childcare facilities.
5. Encourage physical and mental health of youngsters.
6. Increase efforts to combat violence against children.
7. Fight poverty among children.
8. Improve coordination to fulfil the aims of the UN convention.
9. Better status for children of asylum seekers.
10. Raise public awareness of children's rights.

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