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  Global Views
The UNCRC – The Convention That Dare Not Speak Its Name
By Shane Clarke
London Correspondent
Noriko Calderon (right) with her mother Sarah Calderon in a press conference in Tokyo in March 2009

Mention parental child abduction to Japan to any member of the international diplomatic community, and they immediately respond with The Hague Convention. Like some bizarre form of political Tourette’s Syndrome, this old chestnut comes pouring out as they try to explain how they are trying to persuade Japan to sign it.

Mention the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to these same people, and their response is like something out of an old horror movie: The stranger visits the tiny village where the children have been disappearing. He goes to the village inn and asks the barman about it. Suddenly, everyone falls silent and stares at this intrusive stranger. The barman leans forward and says to him, “We don’t talk of such things around here, sir. If you don’t want to wear out your welcome here, I suggest you do the same.”

The UNCRC effectively does the same as the Hague Convention, yet diplomats choose to not even acknowledge its existence, for to do so would mean facing up to the fact that laws already exist to resolve this problem, it’s just that Japan’s racist system refuses to enforce them in favour of foreigners. Japan ratified this Convention – which sets out a list of basic human rights for children – in 1994. Since then, they have consistently abused these rights with total impunity.

It would appear their heartless, racist abuse of these human rights knows no bounds. Take, for instance, the case of 13-year-old Noriko Calderon, born in Japan to Filipino parents.

This child, who only speaks Japanese, faces a choice no child should ever have to make: Leave Japan and remain with her parents in what to her would be an alien land, or stay in Japan and be separated from them. This is because Noriko’s parents are facing deportation under Japan’s immigration laws.

This is a direct violation of Article 9 of the UNCRC, which says, “State Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will.” The diplomats – those frightened villagers – know this, of course, yet they choose to sit back and do nothing.

“The UNCRC,” they say. “We don’t speak of it ‘round our way, sir.”



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Shane Clarke serves as London Correspondent for The Seoul Times. He has been involved in humanitarian work for numerous years. He’s also a freelance management consultant. Having completed an honors degree in Law at Wolverhampton University, he then moved on to an MBA at Warwick Business School. He’s heavily involved in the fight against international parental child abduction to Japan.

 

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