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Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the Minister again. There is a slight paradox here. He said that there is no intention to disturb the current state of copyright law in this country, yet the very subject matter of the conference that is planned for the middle of the UK presidency seems to be whether copyright protection is adequate. If it has already been decided that it is adequate, why is there to be a debate about it as part of the UK presidency?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, there are great concerns in the creative industries about this area, but the key issue is not the intellectual property rights or the legal framework—although we want to take another look at that to make certain that it is all right. The real concern lies with digital rights management and the business models that go with it. There is not a debate about who has the intellectual property rights, but there is a technical debate, as a result of the digital age, about how one controls the material. That is about business models and enforcement rather than the legal side. We need to debate that and make it clear.

A question was raised about the support and increase in the term of protection for sound recordings. We have not made any decisions yet. We are looking at the issue, and we will be considering the impact on all stakeholders; that is, those who use sound recordings and consumers, as well as those who have rights in the recordings. I should point out that any change would require a change to the EC directive that harmonises all copyright terms across the EU. Therefore, no proposals are on the table at the moment to do this. So it would be a major change.

A question was raised about the EC IP Enforcement Directive. UK law is largely consistent with the provisions in the EC IP Enforcement Directive, which was adopted last year. The main advantage of this directive is that it will bring the enforcement framework in some other member states up to the high levels that already exist in the UK. Later this year, we will be issuing a consultation paper on the changes that we think are necessary, so the directive will enter the statute book on time.

Those were the major questions that were asked. There was a question about the Intellectual Property Advisory Committee. We are looking again at how we could restructure that. It has not achieved all that we hoped that it would achieve. The question is whether we should maintain a body outside the Patent Office, with a parallel policy-making process, or whether it should be firmly in the middle of the work of the Patent Office. We are now looking at that.

The debate today has allowed a number of very important issues to be explored. We acknowledge the crucial role that the creative industries play in our economy—it is a major role these days. As I hope I have just shown very briefly, we have already made much progress on the IP issues that matter to this
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sector, but a lot more work is in the pipeline to permit the full potential of the digital revolution to be realised in this most important area of our economy.

Street Children in Latin America

6.19 pm

Lord Alton of Liverpool rose to ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they are making to the governments of Latin American countries about the plight of street children.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I thank all those who are going to participate in this evening's debate about the plight of the street children in Latin America. While we were in another place, the noble Baroness, Lady Golding, who is unable to be here tonight, and I, were the two founding chairman of the All-Party Group on Street Children. Other supporters of the group, including the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, the noble Lord, Lord Clarke of Hampstead, and my noble friend Lord Hylton are also unable to be present this evening, but wish to be associated with the concerns that will be expressed today.

I thank, in particular, the noble Lord, Lord Astor, and the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, who will be speaking from the Opposition Front Benches, and the noble Baroness particularly for the role that she plays as the very active joint chairman of the All-Party Group on Street Children. The noble Baroness, Lady Gibson, has also been an assiduous and committed member of that group. The noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, will bring to the debate all his distinguished diplomatic experience but he will also bring some very important personal insights into the issue, through the outstanding work of his wife, who has raised large sums of money for the care and support of street children in Latin America, and his son's work, which I have seen in Sao Paulo.

The noble Lord, Lord Brennan, brings his considerable experience of Latin America but in addition he comes to our debate as one of the country's foremost human rights lawyers. We also look forward to hearing from the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, who will reply for the Government. I am indebted to him for being here today and for the interest that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office takes in these questions.

I have been seeking to raise this question since early in 2004, when I visited some of the favelas in Rio, Sao Paulo and Recife, in Brazil. I went on behalf of Jubilee Action, a charity that emerged from Jubilee Campaign, which I helped to found 20 years ago. My report following that visit is published on the charity's website. Jubilee Campaign is the secretariat of the All-Party Group on Street Children. I particularly commend the work of its administrator, Mr Wilfred Wong, the human rights lawyer.

In the autumn of 2004, following the publication of that report, colleagues from both Houses joined me in the Jubilee Room for the launch of a website,
22 Jun 2005 : Column 1700, which was simultaneously launched here and on Capitol Hill. The site details the fatalities which occur on a daily basis. In Brazil alone, it is estimated that between four and five children are killed each and every single day. I shall speak today about Brazil, but I know that other noble Lords will refer to the situation elsewhere, especially in countries such as Guatemala and Honduras.

Since we launched the website, more than 600 cases have been listed. In Brazil, between four and five new cases are uncovered daily. I shall give some illustrations just from the past few weeks. On 14 June, a two year-old boy was shot dead near his home in the district of Manilha, in the municipality of Itaborai. On 10 June, a 14 year-old boy was shot dead with a .38 calibre pistol in the neighbourhood of Alto da Bela Vista, in the municipality of Cabo de Santo Agostinho, in the Pernambuco state. According to witnesses, three men shot the teenager and ran away on foot.

On 9 June, a 12 year-old boy was found in a thicket in the neighbourhood of Pirineu, in the municipality of Varzea Grande. Reportedly, the victim was tortured, hanged and had his arms cut off. On 31 May, a 15 year-old male was shot dead at daybreak in front of a snack bar in the neighbourhood of Jardim Umuarama, in the city of Cuiaba. On 27 May, a 10 year-old boy was found dead; on 20 May, a nine year-old girl was raped and strangled; on 9 May, a six month-old girl was raped and killed; on 6 May, an eight month-old boy was beaten to death; on 2 April, a three year-old boy was raped and killed—and the list goes on and on.

It stands as a rebuke to all the authorities that permit those crimes to occur, but it should also be a stimulus to us to take more decisive action. In the light of the cases that I have mentioned, and others that are referred to in my report, an American congressional committee will take evidence on the issue later this year. I particularly commend the work being undertaken by Congressmen Trent Franks, Chris Smith and Joe Pitts and that of Senator Sam Brownback. I hope that the UK will use similar opportunities to exert pressure for more effective measures to be taken to stop this haemorrhaging of young lives.

It was in the 1990s that the world woke up to the horrifying reports of children being routinely shot dead on the streets of Brazil. Many had assumed that those days had been consigned to the pages of history. But as graphically illustrated by the cases on the website to which I referred, and by the film, "City of God", the carnage continues. It flourishes in a climate of fear, silence and official collusion. I began my own visit in Rio at the church of Our Lady of Candelaria, where in July 1993 six police officers opened fire on a group of street children, some as young as 11 years of age, who were sleeping in the doorways opposite the church. Today a small cross with the names of the boys who died has been erected in front of that church. But these are not historic events.

As experts from Brazil's National Movement of Street Children say, some four or five adolescents are murdered daily, every 12 minutes a child is beaten, 4.5 million children under five are working and some
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500,000 children are engaged in domestic labour. In 40 per cent of those crimes, the children are victims. The massive proliferation of small arms is a central cause. One of the movement's activists told me:

Since Jubilee Action published my report, as part of an amnesty the authorities in Rio have started to offer cash sums for small arms handed into them. That is a welcome but nevertheless small start.

Alongside the greater accessibility to guns, what has changed since the 1990s and has deepened the crisis is the emergence of a ruinous drugs culture. Formerly Brazil was simply a transit country for the notorious producers of Columbia, Bolivia and Peru, but today Brazil ranks only after the USA as the second biggest consumer of cocaine. In Rio's 680 favelas, where about 25 per cent of the 12 million people live, that has led to the emergence of no-go areas controlled by rival gangs, such as Red Command and Third Command, which organise and arm the children. Children as young as four have guns and are used as "little planes"—to use the local colloquialism and the jargon of the street—trafficking drugs and messages between sellers and buyers. Although there has been no formal declaration of war, the children are caught up in escalating violence. They are child soldiers by any other name.

One young Englishman, Luke Dowdney, who received the MBE from Her Majesty the Queen last year, has undertaken some remarkable work in the favelas. In his book, Children of the Drug Trade: a Case Study of Children in Organised Armed Violence in Rio de Janeiro, he says that a child's chance of dying there is,

Although time will not permit me to describe the details of my report, I raised these matters with the authorities in Brazil. I must say that at state and city level, as distinct from governmental level, I found a great deal of complacency and unwillingness to recognise the reality of the situation. For instance, when I raised the issue with the deputy mayor of Rio, he said that the fundamental issues were "too sensitive" and that there was little point in talking to the military police, because those talks were not fruitful.

Elsewhere in Brazil, the story is much the same. In Recife, an area called Santo Amaro, which is situated on the edge of the city, has one of the biggest favelas, and some of the worst violence in the city takes place there. In two years, 16 young people were shot or died as a result of either non-payment to pushers or from overdoses. The youngest urchin was just 10 years old. One of the workers in Santo Amaro had seen his three brothers killed, and one young woman whom I met had seen her brother gunned down.

I was particularly moved to hear the tragic story of one of the mothers, who helps at the centre and who has now organised a women's movement there to combat the violence. She said:

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In that small community alone, 80 people had been killed in just two years, including her own son, whose death was a result of mistaken identity. It was thought that he was involved in the drugs trade.

Elsewhere in Recife is an area known as "Little Hell". We heard the appalling story of one young woman who became a prostitute and was taken there by four men. They gang-raped her, and when they had finished they killed her, gouged out her eyes, ripped out her heart and threw her like detritus into the sea.

People from another leading agency told me of 15 killings in one town, Jabuatao, on the Sunday before we met them. They said that the authorities would claim that the children died at a dance, or some such pretext, but that they knew that,

Brazil craves to be recognised as Latin America's leading nation; it says that it would like to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. But if it cannot comply with basic treaty undertakings—it ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, for instance—let alone enforce its own model legislation on child protection, its reputation will be seriously compromised. The representative of one agency said to me:

At the heart of the problem is a climate of fear and an unwillingness to speak out for fear of revenge. In Sao Paulo, Waldenia Paulino, a children's commissioner, denounced police officers who had accosted a courting couple, raped the girl and then shot her boyfriend. Faced with death threats, Paulino had to seek sanctuary outside the country.

Shining a light on this darkness has become a near impossibility. When a brave journalist, Tim Lopez, who worked for Global Television Network, broadcast a report, he quickly disappeared, was tortured and then shot dead. Groups such as the National Movement for Street Children are extremely wary of documenting cases or providing data; that is understandable, because one member who gave an American journalist information about child killings was found dead the following day. One child protection agency told me that nobody is brought to justice and that,

It is hard for a European to comprehend fully how little value is attached to the sanctity of human life in the drug-running favelas in Brazil, yet I saw countless examples of Brazilians and others who have plunged themselves into practical projects to offer relief and help to children in the favelas and on the street. I was inspired by projects in the heart of areas where violence is all-pervasive. In Rio, for example, the Sao Martinho shelters, including those visited by the late Princess Diana and by John Major and Cherie Booth QC, are a superb example of love in action. They are financially supported by Jubilee Action.

However, the men and women who give themselves tirelessly to these projects rightly insist that as well as addressing the symptoms, there needs to be a radical
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and concerted attack on the causes. These children are Brazil's future and without them Brazil has no future. I am grateful for the opportunity to raise their plight this evening.

6.31 pm

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