IMPACT

Children's Court Could Help Combat Abuses Against Young Refugees

It would help deal with issues related to child labor, slavery and marriage, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said.
A girl walks at a train station waiting for a train to Serbia in the town of Gevgelija, on the Macedonian-Greek border, on J
A girl walks at a train station waiting for a train to Serbia in the town of Gevgelija, on the Macedonian-Greek border, on July 9, 2015, on the way north to European countries. Amnesty International accused Balkan countries of mistreating migrants passing through their territories on the way to the European Union, saying people fleeing war were being 'shamefully let down'. 'Thousands of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants -- including children -- making dangerous journeys across the Balkans are suffering violent abuse and extortion at the hands of the authorities and criminal gangs,' the rights group said in a report. AFP PHOTO / ROBERT ATANASOVSKI (Photo credit should read ROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, April 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - An international court should be set up to punish those responsible for child labor and other forms of abuse against children, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the United Nations on Monday.

A court to investigate cases of child labor, child slavery and child marriage is urgently needed amid the current refugee crisis, Brown said at a media briefing ahead of a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The proposed children's court was among several recommendations Brown brought to the U.N. as head of the Global Citizenship Commission, a group of political leaders and academics focused on human rights.

Such a court would have the power to oversee cases requested by children and issue legally binding rulings, the group said in a lengthy report.

"We need, in a sense, a civil rights struggle by and on behalf of children because their rights have been neglected in the international community," said Brown.

In this Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 photo, a Syrian refugee girl sits on the sidewalk with her mother as they beg for money, in
In this Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 photo, a Syrian refugee girl sits on the sidewalk with her mother as they beg for money, in Beirut, Lebanon. A study published last year by the International Labor Organization, UNICEF and the Save the Children charity organization found there are more than 1,500 children living or working on Lebanon's streets, nearly three-quarters of them Syrian and most making a living by begging. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Children account for half of the world's displaced people, he said.

Some 168 million children - one in ten globally - can be classified as child laborers, according to the International Labour Organization.

The children's court would be similar to the International Criminal Court, based in The Hague in the Netherlands, that hears cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Last week, the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) called for child refugees in Europe to be better protected from traffickers.

"When so many children are displaced, the first priority has to be to ensure that children's rights are protected," Brown said.

A million migrants, many fleeing Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other nations in conflict in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, have poured into Europe through Greece since last year.

The Global Citizenship Commission includes such members as Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei and Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum.

IDOMENI, GREECE - MARCH 19: Children play in puddles of rain water at the Idomeni refugee camp on the Greek Macedonia border
IDOMENI, GREECE - MARCH 19: Children play in puddles of rain water at the Idomeni refugee camp on the Greek Macedonia border on March 19, 2016 in Idomeni, Greece. Thousands of migrants remain stranded at the border camp following high hopes that yesterday's EU summit would have brought them some sort of resolution. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

The group also recommended revisions to the veto process among nations that are permanent U.N. Security Council members and reform of the way U.N. refugee aid is funded.

(Reporting by Sebastien Malo, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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