Malta ratifies global treaty banning sale, prostitution of children

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A top United Nations official today hailed Malta’s ratification of a global treaty banning the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography as a critical step towards protecting the rights of young people.

Malta’s ratification brings the number of State parties to the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography to 141.

The treaty, one of two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, extends the obligations of States parties to guarantee the protection of children from sale, pornography and prostitution, through explicit prohibition of these acts in their laws.

“The ratification of this treaty by the Government of Malta is a message of hope for children, within Malta and across nations,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais.

“It strengthens the protection of the rights of child victims and consolidates international cooperation to fight impunity for crimes against children, including the sale of children, trafficking and sexual exploitation.”

Speaking at the ratification ceremony, held at UN Headquarters on the margins of the General Assembly’s annual high-level general debate, Ms. Santos Pais said Malta’s step is also an expression of strong support to the UN campaign for the universal ratification of the two Optional Protocols to the child rights convention. The other Optional Protocol is on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
The UN launched the campaign in May, which coincided with the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Optional Protocols, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling for full ratification by 2012.

Among the other ratifications today was that by Tunisia of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, by the Netherlands of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, and by Togo of the Protocol against the smuggling of migrants.

In addition, Ethiopia signed the Optional Protocol on children and armed conflict and Paraguay signed the International Tropical Timber Agreement of 2006.

This year’s treaty event, which began last week to coincide with the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate, highlighted 44 treaties deposited with the UN that address human rights, disarmament, environmental protection, biodiversity, desertification and climate change, terrorism and crime, and the safety of UN and associated personnel. Member States also had the opportunity to take action with regard to some 500 other treaties.

In total, 26 countries undertook 44 separate treaty actions during the event, with the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism receiving the most new ratifications, with five.