Special Representative Condemns Hostage Taking Of School Children In North Ossetia

UNITED NATIONS, New York, 2 September – The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara A. Otunnu, has strongly condemned the hostage taking in Middle School No. 1 in the town of Beslam in the North Ossetia republic of the Russian Federation. Most of the hostages are school children.

Mr. Otunnu stated, "I am very shocked and distressed by this act of terror against school children. I call for the immediate release of all hostages".

The Special Representative emphasized that attacks on schools and hostage taking violate all international humanitarian and human rights standards for the protection of children, including particularly the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Security Council Resolutions 1261, 1314, 1379, 1460 and 1539. He also declared, "Attacks on schools constitute crimes of war under the Statute of the International Criminal Court".

The Special Representative stated, "It is unacceptable that any children anywhere should be subjected to these practices of brutalization". He called on the international community to focus on and make the protection of children a common cause. "We must mobilize all levels of international pressure to end these practices and ensure the ‘era of application' for the protection of children.

The Special Representative serves as international advocate for children affected by armed conflict by promoting standards and measures for their protection in times of war as well as their healing and social reintegration in the aftermath of conflict.