Indigenous Children Have Right to Education, Vatican Says at U.N.

Archbishop Migliore Stresses Ingredient for a Better Future

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NEW YORK, MAY 22, 2003 ( The Vatican appealed to the United Nations for the respect of the rights of indigenous peoples, especially their children, to have the benefit of their culture, religion and language.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, addressed the second session of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, under way in New York.

The archbishop on Wednesday called for respect of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, signed by the Vatican, which is «the first international human rights treaty to recognize indigenous children as a group of rights-holders, and specifically identifies indigenous people as a group which suffers from discrimination in relations to most of the rights enshrined within the document.»

The Vatican observer recalled «that an indigenous child ‘shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practice his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language.'»

He added that «children remain especially vulnerable to violations of the right to education, and for indigenous children and youth this challenge is compounded by racism, xenophobia and related intolerance that continue to affect them on the basis of their own cultural specificities and uniqueness.»

Archbishop Migliore stressed that the «right to education concerns not only matters of access, but also of ensuring content which can empower indigenous children for their future.»

This is imperative if indigenous children and youth are not to be robbed «of their present and future,» he concluded.

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