10.06.2015 – UN recognizes that bullfighting violates children's rights

The United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of the Child, the highest authority in examining the fulfilment of rights set forth in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, has expressly declared itself against the participation and attendance of minors at bullfighting events in Mexico.

 

As part of its campaign Infancia SIN viOLEncia (Childhood without Violence), in June 2014 the Fondation Franz Weber presented a report drawing the Committee's attention to bullfighting events, at which Mexican children and young people witness the violence involved in such spectacles. Similarly, the report records the existence of multiple bullfighting schools across Mexico in which minors are trained to become toreros in circuits encompassing both public and private performances.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty in the world. Protection of its children's rights is mandatory for the state of Mexico. Said Convention sets out the entitlement of all children and young people to a standard of life that is suitable for their physical, mental, moral and social development. It also sets out the State's duty to adopt measures that will ensure said protection. This requirement is not met in the field of bullfighting, as recognised in the Committee's recommendation.

Through its concluding observations on the fourth and fifth periodic reports of Mexico as regards fulfilling the Convention on the Rights of the Child, today, 10 June, the Committee has made public its position regarding the participation and attendance of minors at bullfights by declaring that “the Committee is concerned about the physical and mental well-being of children involved in the training of bullfighting, and performances associated with it, as well as the mental and emotional well-being of child spectators who are exposed to the violence of bullfighting." The Committee notes that Mexico should “adopt measures to enforce the prohibition regarding the participation of children in bullfighting training and performances, as a worst form of child labour, and take measures to protect them in their capacity as spectators and raise awareness of the physical and mental violence associated with bullfighting and its impact on children[SP1] .”

Gustavo Lozano, a representative of the Fondation Franz Weber in Mexico, was present at the Palais Wilson in Geneva, Switzerland, as the 69th session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child took place on 19 and 20 May 2015, in which Mexico was examined. Lozano notes that “Bullfighting has been difficult to identify as something that violates children's rights because it is typically thought that the only victim of a bullfight is the animal. When you think of bullfighting, you don't think of children as victims, but they are.” Equally, Lozano commented: “It is a good sign that Laura Vargas Carrillo, Director of the National System for Integral Family Development (DIF) and head of the Mexican delegation in Geneva, expressed the State's commitment to following up and taking note of the Committee's observations.”

In reference to the measures that the Mexican government must take in order to meet the recommendation effectively, Lozano notes that ”In a country as violated[SP2]  as ours, we must start leaving behind practices such as the involvement of children in bullfighting, as there is no doubt that such things help to normalise violence among minors.” Given that the observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child's are documents periodically drawn up to aid the appropriate interpretation and application of children's rights, the various Mexican authorities have no choice - they are the guarantors of the rights protected in the Convention and they will have to apply the necessary measures without exception or excuse.

You will find the Observations here.