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IV Dialogue between children and teenagers of Latin America and the Caribbean with the I/A Court H.R.

San Jose, Costa Rica, December 1st, 2022.- In celebration of the Universal Children’s Day, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I/A Court H.R.), together with the PANIAMOR Foundation and Save the Children through the Regional Civil Society Strengthening Program (PASC) held the IV Dialogue on children and teenagers with the Inter-American Court on November 22, of this year.

This is the fourth consecutive year that the Judges of the I/A Court H.R. discuss, with children and teenagers, a wide range of topics on issues that interest and affect them. Judge Ricardo C. Perez Manrique, President of the I/A Court H.R., said: “It is essential for the Court to stay connected with children and adolescents. This event, which was first organized in 2019, during the celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, will continue to take place and we are also making progress in a protocol to include boys, girls, and adolescents in the cases subject to the Court’s attention; it is important to listen to them.”

“The I/A Court H.R. and international human rights bodies are trying to protect the work of those people who exercise the right to defend rights, rights’ defenders and this includes children and adolescents, especially in our continent,” Judge Verónica Gomez emphasized.

The dialogue was very constructive thanks to the document “The right of children and adolescents to DEFEND RIGHTS,” which is the result of a consultation held with 25 girls and boys from nine countries, representatives of networks such as REDNNyAs, MOLACNATS, REDIME, and Yo Tambien Tengo Algo Que Decir. Based on that document, the boys and girls raised their voices about the shrinking civic space in the region and they focused on the importance of the protection of rights, which is not exclusive to adults, educated persons, or academic experts in Law. They also mentioned the role of States to guarantee, respect and protect the right of boys and girls to freedom of expression, the right to assembly, and freedom of association.

Moreover, Ann Linnarsson, Director of the Regional Civil Society Strengthening Program (PASC) of Save the Children, emphasized the importance of defending the civic space in Latin America. “Protecting the civic space guarantees the role of civil society to participate in the social space and contributes to strengthening the democracy of countries. The boys, girls, and teenagers are citizens and key actors in the civil society and their voices must always be heard.”

In addition, Milena Grillo, Director of Strategy and Innovation at PANIAMOR Foundation, emphasized that: “The aim of this process, which began four years ago, has been to add up allies, to make us stronger.” On this occasion, Soledad García Muñoz, Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights (REDESCA) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; Luis Pedernera, Member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child; and Víctor Giorgi, General Director of the Inter-American Children’s Institute (IIN- OAS) participated in the event. Based on their roles and mandates, they addressed the issue of the exercise of the right to defend rights and its relation to the civic space and the ethical, safe and significant participation of childhood and adolescence.