UN body cites killings of children in Venezuela

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GENEVA, Oct 5 (Reuters) The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child voiced concern today at reports that children in Venezuela had been killed by police or died in custody and demanded that those responsible be punished.

The committee, composed of 18 independent experts, noted Venezuela's investigations into killings but said it was ''deeply concerned at reports of extrajudicial killings of children at the hands of the law enforcement officials and deaths of children in police custody.'' The committee, which monitors compliance with the 1990 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child -- a treaty ratified by 193 countries -- issued its conclusions at the end of a three-week session at which it examined the records of nine countries, including Venezuela.

It also looked at efforts by Bulgaria, France and Spain to curb child prostitution and pornography, and how Croatia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Qatar, Bulgaria, France, Spain and Syria were meeting obligations under the convention on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

There had been isolated cases of police abuse of minors in Venezuela, but this was not a practice of Venezuelan police, it said. There had been 130 cases where police had committed punishable offences against juveniles between 2004 and 2006, the delegation said, without giving specific examples.

Venezuela's delegation at the meeting, led by deputy minister for social development and social protection Yadira Hidalgo told the committee that children's rights were a top priority for the government of Hugo Chavez.

The committee cited allegations of ill-treatment and sub-standard conditions in prisons across Venezuela. It called on the government to improve detention facilities and to ensure that children are not subjected to torture or inhuman and degrading treatment.

REUTERS PDT AS0023

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