on the Rights of the Child
session (Geneva, 14 January to 1 February 2002)
the Committee noted that the initial report of Andorra was detailed and informative,
with useful indicators for children at risk, several concerns about the report
and the situation in Andorra were voiced.
Committee discussed the issue of national ombudsman and the need for strengthened
monitoring mechanisms of children’s rights. Children of seasonal workers and
other vulnerable groups (such as unemployed parents) were a particular matter
of concern for the Committee, since they appear to be discriminated against
in access to services. The Committee emphasised that the rights to non-discrimination
covers all children, irrespective of the status of their parents.
Committee found that child day care was a problematic issue, given the high
percentage of women in the labour force and the high number of parents working
during the weekend. An additional problem was the exclusion of mental health
problems in the general health insurance. The Committee worried that parents
might have to cover the costs of treatment privately.
of the Committee included establishing a comprehensive national data collection
system. Given that corporal punishment is not explicitly prohibited for parents,
the Committee suggested the further study of this problem. In light of the
lack of references to children’s rights in the documents for institutionalised
care of children, the Committee also recommended reviewing documents and
perspective from a welfare-based to a rights-based. The rights-based perspective
needs to be internalised in all efforts concerning the situation of children.
It was recognised that child participation and the respect for the views of
the child has to be further incorporated in social values and attitudes.
Committee welcomed the initial report of Bahrain, it was however unclear if
the Committee would allow for the request from the delegation to view it as
both an initial and a periodic report.
Committee praised the country for its recent democratisation process, and the
country’s withdrawal of the reservation to the Convention against Torture.
Nevertheless, the Committee questioned the poor record of ratification of international
rights instruments, as only three of the six major treaties have been ratified
Committee further positively remarked on the high level of both the quality
of education and enrolment in schooling, as well as in health in the country.
Bahrain was commended for setting up a National Committee on Childhood, however
it was also pointed out that the administrative body needs strengthening to
be able to receive complaints from the public and to initiate measures of remedy.
area of concern of the Committee was the possible conflict between Sharia law and the Convention, especially since different interpretations
of the Sharia are prevalent throughout
the country. The Committee was also concerned by the lack of a general minimum
age for marriage and that almost 30% of all girls under the age of 19 are married.
issues of concern included: the apparent gender discrimination in vocational
training as different courses are being offered to boys and girls; the grouping
of children who are involved in activities such as begging, prostitution, and
dropping out of school together with children who have committed serious crimes;
and the situation of the children of the many migrant workers in Bahrain, particularly
concerning education and health care.
put forth by the Committee included legislation for compulsory education, despite
the achieved good result in school enrolment, and translation of the full text
of the Convention, since some provisions have been left out of the previous
(2nd periodic report)
Committee considered the second periodic report of Chile, which was commended
as being very detailed. The Committee was impressed by the biennial surveys
made on violence against children. Chile has incorporated a cross-sectoral
Government policy of children’s rights as well as good political and economic
strategies for children. However the Committee noted that a legislative policy
and the overall strategy for children is unclear. Furthermore. follow-up of
the recommendations of the Committee resulting from its consideration of the
first report has been unsatisfactory.
of the major concerns of the Committee was the lack of a clear definition of
the child. Furthermore there was confusion over minimum ages for criminal responsibility,
low and gender-discriminating minimum ages for marriage and the lack of a minimum
age for sexual consent.
regards to the juvenile justice system, the Committee expressed concern that
the same institution is in charge of caring for abused children, children in
conflict with the law, as well as being responsible for budget allocations for
privately run centres and receiving complaints of abuse. A plan to divide these
responsibilities between different bodies was considered a positive measure
to ensure protection of children.
Committee welcomed the new law on teenage pregnancy, seeing that the obstacles
for pursuing schooling have been removed for pregnant teenage girls. However,
there was concern over the high number of illegal abortions (abortions are
completely prohibited in Chile) and the difficulties for teenagers to access
included establishing institutional alliances with civil society, with a lobbying
role to help speed up the legislation process as well as providing children
with defence from outside the State. The Government should also try to eradicate
the use of the term "minor" as it has a negative connotation
of punishment and does not view the child as a legal subject and a citizen.
Dissemination of the Convention should include training staff working with children
on the general principles of children’s rights.
need for an independent monitoring system for children’s rights (an ombudsperson)
was also emphasised by the Committee, which should include an individual complaints
procedure for children.
(initial periodic report)
Committee welcomed the report, which followed the guidelines and underscored
necessary measures to be taken; however strategies and time frames for the implementation
were lacking. Strategies were also recognised as lacking for addressing the
recognised obstacles to the implementation of the Convention, including traditional
practises and customary law. It was noted that the necessary changes in attitudes
should be encouraged and underpinned by the State through legislation. The Committee
commended that ratified international legal standards can be invoked in courts,
even before it has been incorporated in national legislation, however, the legal
harmonisation process is unclear. It was suggested that Gabon establish a Code
of the Child, compiling legislative measures for the protection of the child.
Committee highlighted the juvenile justice system as an area of concern and
noted that it was unsatisfactory that there are no juvenile courts in the country
and that minors can be held in pre-trial detention for up to two years. The
Committee further noted the need for an independent monitoring body, alternative
to the courts, such as an Ombudsperson. The Committee suggested establishing
an infrastructure for complaint procedures for children and women.
Committee encouraged the existing health and education priorities and reforms
of the Gabonese State. It noted that although the country is the second richest
sub-Saharan country in Africa (after South Africa), the social disparities are
high. The Committee commended the relatively high literacy rate for women, but
also noted that it is the only positive indicator of poverty (as set up by the
UNDP) in Gabon.
of the key concerns of the Committee was the practice of polygamy in Gabon
and its effects on children. Reference was made to the recommendation of
Rights Committee to abolish polygamy.
labour and trafficking in children were other issues highlighted by the Committee.
The Committee commended the sub-regional initiatives taken by Gabon on repatriation
of trafficked children and encouraged the country to further pursue these initiatives.
issue of minorities was not considered in the report and the Committee expressed
concern for the Pygmy minority, who lack access to social service and is seemingly
abandoned by the Government.
was another concern of the Committee; seeing that although abortions have been
made illegal, the report stated that at least half of the female population
has had one or more abortions. The Committee suggested that freely supplying
contraception could alleviate the problem of clandestine abortions.
other things, the Committee urged the State Party to consider adopting a comprehensive
children's code reflecting the general principles of the Convention; to ratify
the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child; to develop a system
of data collection and indicators consistent with the Convention disaggregated
by gender, age, indigenous and minority groups, and urban and rural areas; and
to set the same minimum age for marriage for girls and boys by increasing the
minimum age of girls.
Greece (initial report)
Committee welcomed the initial report of Greece. It positively noted that the
Convention prevails over customary law in Greece. The Committee further recognised
that a law reform on children’s rights issues, including juvenile justice is
in process and a specific police unit for children has been established in
that legislation on children’s rights is not lacking in Greece, the Committee
pointed out that implementation is the main problem. The Committee welcomed
the fact that the courts, according to the report, are obliged to respect the
right of the child to be heard (Article 12) but noted that it was unclear which
status this right had in practice.
of the concerns of the Committee, regarding the drafting of the report, was
that NGOs appear to have not been extensively involved. It also noted that issues
of health and education were described, in the report, from a welfare point
of view, rather than a rights-based approach. The Committee was unclear how
the Ombudsperson deals with child rights issues and if an individual complains
procedure is available. Furthermore, the Committee noted that the dissemination
of the Convention in languages other than Greek seems to be sporadic.
Committee was concerned that minorities are not legally recognised, except
for the four groups defined as "Muslim by race". The Roma population was of particular concern to the Committee and especially
their seemingly lack of access to primary health care and education. Furthermore,
the Committee was concerned that the right to identity, in the form of a foreign
name seems to be not entirely respected by the Greek authorities.
area of concern for the Committee was the issue of sexual abuse, which it described
as a circular problem, since offenders usually have been abused themselves.
The vulnerability of the abused child was emphasised. There was a difference
in opinion on the root cause of sexual abuse, but the Committee suggested that
the offenders need rehabilitation. The Committee was also concerned that abused
children are being grouped together with children with disabilities in the same
centres, which could lead to further traumatisation. The Committee referred
to the general discussion day on abuse and its recommendations for further information
on the issue.
Committee was alarmed by the high number of traffic incidents, involving minors
without driver’s licenses, but welcomed the suggestion by the Greek delegation
to consider lowering the minimum age for driving a vehicle as this would maybe
save time for the juvenile justice system to deal with more serious issues
and adapt the legislation to reality.
Committee made several recommendations to the State Party, including that it
strengthens implementation of domestic legislation towards improved protection
of children's rights; that it establishes a mechanism and timeframe for implementation
of ILO Convention No. 182; and that it establishes a co-ordinating body with
adequate authority and sufficient human, financial and other resources to support
effective co-ordination for the full implementation of the Convention.
Lebanon (2nd periodic report)
the Committee welcomed the second periodic report of Lebanon it noted that the
report did not follow the guidelines for reporting. The child-perspective was
lacking as well as an account for the implementation of the general principles
of the Convention. However, the country was commended for its high-level of
education and well-developed curriculum. It was further recognised that notable
legislative action has been taken since the last report, in areas of free primary
education, primary health care, reforms of juvenile justice system and children
Committee expressed concern on the personal status laws, which are being applied
to different religious factions, on issues of family rights, custody and age
of marriage and thus implies different minimum ages for children of various
ethnic and religious backgrounds.
need for an independent monitoring system was emphasised by the Committee and
the role of the High Council of Childhood was discussed, seeing that it supposedly
has similar tasks to those of an ombudsperson.
Committee noted that the issue of the Palestinian children had not been addressed
in the report and emphasised that the Government has responsibility for all
children on its territory. The situation seemed to be slightly better than
expected by the Committee but it still needs to be addressed properly.
additional issue of the Committee was the division of responsibilities between
the State and the private sector, seeing that the Government appeared to rely
heavily on NGOs for providing basic services such as primary health care and
education. It was pointed out that the current system needs monitoring and
evaluation by the Government to ensure the quality.
matter of consanguine marriages was still a concern of the Committee since
a high number of disabilities seem to be related to this practice. Furthermore,
the infant mortality rates varies a great deal between different regions of
the country and has in fact increased in the past years.
Committee recommended the Lebanese Government to adopt a holistic perspective
on children’s rights and include regional strategies. Data collection needs
to be strengthened and made independent. The Government was advised to ensure
that the nationality of the mother is passed on to the child and that the existing
legislation on alternative care is implemented.
Committee noted that the initial report of Malawi had a clear outline with
a conclusion on every paragraph with progress and constraints of the issues,
is very rare and should be encouraged. The Committee noted that the report
contained a clear out-line on the general framework of the institutional
set-up of education.
The Committee welcomed the efforts made in the new Constitution to bring it
into compliance with the Convention, however there is still need for harmonisation,
especially of the customary law.
Committee was pleased to hear about children’s participation in a child parliament
in Malawi, but underlined the need for the issue to be introduced also on the
community level, seeing that the culture does not allow children to freely
express their views.
children's Government had identified the matter of child abuse in schools as
the third most important issue. The Committee pointed out that reporting of
physical and sexual abuse required a supportive infrastructure. The legislation
on corporal punishment needs to be harmonised to prohibit the practice in both
families and schools, and be supplemented by awareness-raising campaigns to
change the harmful custom.
Committee expressed concern over the discrimination between urban and rural
areas, as well as between boys and girls. The lack of a uniform definition
of the child was problematic according to the Committee. The age of criminal
is set too low at 7 years of age and the Committee was worried that children
are tried in normal courts and sharing cells with adults. Girls are viewed
as adults after the first menstruation, followed by the participation in
rites. This was a key concern of the Committee, especially the practice of
girls starting sexual relationships after the ceremony.
Committee was alarmed by the pandemic of HIV/AIDS in the country and called
for promotion of information on transmission, in particular by mother to child.
The orphans of the disease were a highlighted group of victims as well as the
incresing number of those prison inmates affected.
Committee emphasized the problem of kidnapping and trafficking in children for
slave labour and prostitution. The Malawi Government was recommended to take
measures to protect children before the problem increase and bi-lateral agreements
were stressed as a measure to deal with the specific area of concern.
Committee welcomed the initial report of Mozambique and noted that it was an
excellent study of how a report should be drafted, including both civil society
and citizens. Furthermore, the report was clear, frank and self-critical, as
well as indicating possible solutions. The Committee noted the remarkable recovery
after the civil war and the commendable reintegration of people into society.
The country is still one of the poorest in the world and had been additionally
affected by floods and social unrest in the past years.
of the key concerns of the Committee was the widespread problem of HIV/AIDS
in the country. The matters of prevention and treatment as well as the additional
issue of alternative care for the many AIDS orphans (in addition to the children
who has lost their parents during the war) are not being properly addressed
by the Government.
matters raised by the experts in the Committee comprised the dissemination
of the Convention, which has only partly been translated into different languages
and the different, very low minimum ages for marriage for boys and girls. It
was recommended that an awareness-campaign should be initiated to make the
of early marriage known to the public.
put forth by the Committee included establishing an independent monitoring body
with a complaints procedure. The Committee deemed it possible for the Government
to quite easily introduce the principles of the best interest of the child and
non-discrimination into legislation.