Seven debts of the Venezuelan State regarding the Integral Protection of children and adolescents in the 31st anniversary of the Convention for the Rights of the Child

2020 marks the 31st anniversary of the Convention for the Rights of the Child (CRC), currently the most widely recognized and ratified human rights instrument in the world. Although Venezuela has signed and ratified it, implementing nationwide legislative and administrative changes to fulfill it, that has meant little to the lives of Venezuelan children and adolescents, particularly in the scope of articles 4, 6, 19, 24, 27, 28, 29, 37 and 40, which compel the State to guarantee economic, social and cultural rights, a dignified living, the highest health standards, education, justice and protection from aggression, negligence, exploitation and sexual abuse, inhuman and degrading treatments, and torture.

The information collected from the periodic monitoring of media outlets, reveals the colossal debt of the Venezuelan State with children, and speaks of how difficult it is to be a child or an adolescent in a country experiencing a Complex Humanitarian Emergency, where all public systems have collapsed. According to 1,020 news articles studied between April and September 2020, there have been several violations against the rights of children and adolescents in Venezuela, which we’ve comprised in seven major topics. The country’s authorities must urgently start to clear these seven debts.

  1. Faltering Convention

El derecho a la salud

 y a estar bien alimentado

 reducir mortalidad

 eso está bien expresado

 Convención para Cantar. Luisa Pernalete 2020

Article 24 of the CRC establishes that the States must guarantee health and quality medical attention for children and adolescents. In Venezuela, the tangible decline of healthcare infrastructure, with shutdown units, lack of supplies and specialized personnel, and constant failures in basic services, force families and even pregnant women, to take long and humiliating tours through various healthcare centers, risking their physical integrity and life. In this context, 35 children and adolescents died between April and September 2020, including 13 cancer patients and 2 pregnant women with their newborn children. 5 babies were born in the street after their mothers were denied childbirth attention.

Regarding vaccination, one 11-month old child died after suffering a strong adverse reaction to a vaccine administered in a public campaign. The details of his death remain unknown, while 23 other babies were intoxicated in the same event.

1,790 people have fallen ill and 290 have died of diphtheria in the country up until September. The PAHO reports that there are 54 suspect cases in the age groups between 2 and 14 years old. 7,384 malaria cases were confirmed in Bolivar state in April.

In May, 18.55% of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 were children and adolescents, two of whom died. By September 30th, 75,122 cases were officially reported without indicating the age of the patients or the number of deaths. Children and adolescents with chronic conditions such as hemophilia, HIV or in need of transplants aren’t receiving the specialized attention they require. Similarly, indigenous communities report that children die without getting any medical attention during the pandemic.

Since August, a 4-kilometer oil spill from the PDVSA refinery in Falcon state is causing adults and children to experience respiratory afflictions and nose allergies. In other places, inhabitants report emissions of polluting gases that are affecting their habitats and health. There’s also been an increase in ocular and respiratory diseases caused by the use of wood fires to cook due to the lack of cooking gas.

Between January and July, Cecodap’s Psycho-Social Support Service attended 1,458 children and adolescents from 18 states of the country. 452 cases dealt with mood swings, depression or anxiety. 91 of them showed suicidal tendencies.

The Venezuelan State has the duty to guarantee life, health and attention for diseases, securing investments, actions and effective policies to that end. Venezuela must explain how it has fulfilled these obligations before the Committee on the Rights of the Child.