16 September 2003
The Committee on the Rights of the Child today reviewed an initial report from San Marino on how that country was implementing the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Introducing her country’s report, Federica Bigi, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of San Marino to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said her country’s accession to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991 had constituted an important moment that had allowed the authorities to review in depth the country’s policy and legislation on children.
Ms. Bigi said the Government had made further efforts in implementing the legal measures in successive phases, and various competent authorities were committed to the protection and promotion of the rights of children in the country.
Committee Experts raised a number of questions, among other things, if corporal punishment was prohibited in the country; mechanisms for child complaints in schools; the problems of neglect and abuse of children; if human rights education was taught in schools; if the Convention was widely disseminated; the traditional attitude of society towards children; and about the rights of children to be heard before the courts.
In preliminary remarks, Committee Chairperson Jakob Egbert Doek, who served as country rapporteur to the report of San Marino, said that the Committee would issue its final recommendations on the basis of the discussion. He drew the Government’s attention to the need for an ongoing review of the environment of child welfare, education and health.
The Committee will issue its concluding observations and recommendations on the report of San Marino towards the end of its three-week session which concludes on 3 October.
San Marino was also represented by Lanfranco Ferroni, Judge for Civil Appeals; Milena Gasperoni, Director of the Office of Economic Planning and Centre for Statistical Data; Maria Domenica Michelotti, Director of Kindergarten; Sabrina Bernardi, State Attorney; Giovanni Iwaneijko, Head of the Paediatrics Centre; Riccardo Venturini, Head of Minors’ Service; Maria Alessandra Albertini, Advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Eros Gasperoni, Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Raphaël Innocentini, from the Permanent Mission of San Marino in Geneva.
As one of the 192 States parties to the Convention, San Marino must submit periodic reports to the Committee on how it is implementing the provisions of the treaty to protect and promote the rights of children. San Marino is a country with a population of 26,941 persons and is located inside Italy; half the population resides abroad.
When the Committee reconvenes at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 17 September, it will review the second periodic report of Canada (CRC/C/83/Add.6).
Report of San Marino
The initial report of San Marino (CRC/C/8/Add.46) consists of information on the situation of children in the territory. It says that with regard to the protection of children, the Republic had had comprehensive domestic legislation; however, the accession to the Convention led San Marino authorities to further enhance the existing legislation. (Geographically, San Marino is located within Italy. Population figures, as of December 2000, reached 26,941.)
According to the report, the literacy rate is estimated at 100 per cent, and schooling is compulsory up to the age of 16. Life expectancy is among the highest: 77.4 years for men and 84 years for women. The birth rate is 1.08 per cent and the mortality rate is 0.7 per cent. Majority is fixed at the age of 18. Article 10 of the San Marino Penal Code sets forth that a child under the age of 12 years cannot be charged with a crime.
Concerning children born out of wedlock, the report notes that the father or the mother may recognize them, either jointly or separately, even if already married to another person. If one or both parents are minors, the person exercising parental authority on the newborn or on the minor parents may recognize the child. The law established that children born of parents who are both San Marino citizens, as well as children born of a San Marino father and of a foreign mother, or children born of a foreign father and of a San Marino mother are San Marino citizens by origin. Children adopted by a San Marino citizen and children born on the territory of the Republic, both parents being unknown or stateless, are San Marino citizens by origin.
Presentation of Report
FEDERICA BIGI, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of San Marino to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said her country’s accession to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991 had constituted an important moment. The accession to the Convention had been an occasion for the authorities to review in depth the country’s policy and legislation to ensure that it was in line with the principles of the Convention.
Ms. Bigi said a Family Code had been adopted in 1986, which focused on the rights of children. The Government had made further efforts in implementing the legal measures in successive phases. The various competent authorities were committed to the protection and promotion of the rights of children in the country. A law against sexual violence had been adopted in 2002 and had been incorporated into the Criminal Code.
Ms. Bigi said that in its efforts to promote and protect human rights, the Government of San Marino had extended a permanent invitation to all mechanisms, including those of the Commission on Human Rights, to visit the country.
JACOB EGBERT DOEK, Committee Chairperson, who served as country rapporteur to the initial report of San Marino, said that although the country was small, the Committee was dealing with San Marino’s 5,000 children. The structure of the State and the legal system were very interesting. There was no civil code and civil procedural code in the country while the country had a criminal code. The delegation was asked if the State party was planning to draft such laws? In terms of the implementation of the provisions of the Convention, what was the general policy of the rights of the child? Was there a discussion on the issue of having a separate and independent monitoring body for the implementation of the Convention?
Other Committee Experts also asked questions under the main issues of general measures of implementation; definition of the child; general principles; and civil rights and freedoms. They asked, among other things, if corporal punishment was prohibited in the country; mechanisms for child complaints in schools; the problems of neglect and abuse of children; if human rights education was taught in schools; if the Convention was widely disseminated; the traditional attitude of society towards children; and about the rights of children to be heard before the courts.
Responding, the members of the delegation said the absence of a civil code and civil procedure did not mean the lack of specific rules in the country. The legislators and jurists felt that there was no need to have a civil code. Too many rigid laws did not permit the development of legislation as a whole. The Roman law was still prevalent in the legal system of the country which permitted flexibility.
With regard to the appeal system, there were three instances, including the Council of Twelve, the delegation said. Depending on the substance of the appeal, the case could be addressed to the first instance or to the second. The Council of Twelve could only confirm or deny the decisions of the first or second instances.
The age of marriage was 18 years, the delegation said, adding that if a minor girl became pregnant and decided to get married, she could do so. In that case, the judge could authorize the marriage to go ahead.
Both women and men without distinction could transmit San Marino nationality through marriage, the delegation said. Citizenship was open to all persons married to a San Marino nationality. There was no difference as to the transmission of citizenship by men and women to children. A child whose mother or father was a foreigner could enjoy the right to education and medical care. Children could opt for double-nationality at the age of 18.
A judge could decide whether or not to hear a child before the court in accordance with the child’s ability to discern, the delegation said. Even for children between 14 and 18, the hearing had to be decided by the judge. Despite the absence of legislation expressly governing the juvenile process, judges had frequently ordered that hearings be closed, especially if the minor was the victim of an offence. The judges had taken that decision by directly invoking the Convention.
Children born out of wedlock had the same rights as those born within wedlock, the delegation said. The law did not differentiate between such children. Despite cultural attitudes, the situation of children born out of wedlock did not pose a problem within the society.
The country’s educational curricula included all aspects of rights set forth in the Convention, the delegation said. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had been involved in the drafting of the curricula. The training of teachers, and their updating, had been given special emphasis. A new cultural process was also introduced in the training of teachers. A teachers’ group was currently designing a new curriculum with the view to adopt new aspects, including a computerized educational system. Children were active in educational activities through their participation in school life.
The Committee Experts continued raising questions on issues under family environment and alternative care; basic health and welfare; education, leisure and cultural activities; and special protection measures. They asked about the system of child adoption and decisions by judges on the selection of potential couples; the rights of adopted children and the number of internationally adopted children; how custody was awarded after divorce; if institutions existed to care for abandoned children; how cases of child abuse were dealt with; the participation of pupils in school administration matters; the situation of bullying in schools; the rate of infant mortality; the provisions for adolescent health; how disabled children were treated; the concept of democratisation of education and the school environment; the legal limitation to access to alcoholic drinks and tobacco; if child begging existed; the situation of child prostitution and child labour; the condition of children in “Casa Famiglia”; legal mechanisms to prevent violence, including the collection of DNA of potential perpetrators; and the campaign on breastfeeding, among other things.
The delegation said the Government was preparing the legal terrain for the accession to the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and on the involvement of children in armed conflicts.
Children with disabilities attended schools like all other children, the delegation said, adding that those with serious disabilities received special treatment and were kept in institutions designed for them. Minors who suffered from disturbances were taken care of by the Service for Minors, surrounded by a group of teachers and parents, including psychiatrists. “Casa Famiglia” (Family House) cared for 40 disabled children who received special treatment and educational training. Barriers for disabled children to attend schools had been lifted and minors could fully take part in the educational system.
Concerning adoption, there were two cases: internal and international adoption, the delegation said. The inter-country adoption procedure still remained rigid in its scope. The suitability of the parents wishing to adopt a child from other countries should first be examined to establish their capacity to do so. The requirement of the country of the child to be adopted should also be taken into consideration to avoid any economic involvement in the process of adoption. Before a definite adoption of a child, the adopting family should prove, within a one-year pre-adoption custody, its capacity to adopt. The authorities of San Marino could give a favourable opinion of the adoption of a child if the law of the country of origin did not prohibit the adoption otherwise. Any evidence of the biological parents of the adopted child should remain confidential and could not be revealed to any person foreign to the adopting process. The law of San Marino allowed children up to 14 years of age to be adopted.
With regard to the prohibition of corporal punishment, the delegation said that such acts were considered as abuse. Article 135 of the Criminal Code provided for punishment for ill treatment by a family member. If the act of ill treatment resulted in bodily harm, the offence was considered more serious, leading to a much more severe punishment for the perpetrator.
At the secondary school level, the Government had taken measures to democratize the teaching system, the delegation said. Teachers were provided with the necessary teaching instruments and students were involved in the preparation of teaching methods.
There were no special juvenile courts in the country to deal with minors, the delegation said, adding that special sections, presided over by judges, normally dealt with cases involving minors. Law cases already existed concerning minors on issues such as teenage pregnancy. The judge should decide on the request of a minor to get married following her pregnancy.
Any citizen who completed the compulsory schooling at the age of 16 years could apply for work, the delegation said. However, before becoming involved in full-time employment opportunities, children should be engaged in light work and summer jobs. Also, vocational training programmes were provided for children upon completion of their compulsory education. For minors, it was prohibited to work in hazardous conditions which could affect their harmonious development. Regulations on safety and security at work were stringent.
Asked why a glucose solution was given to some newborn children, the delegation said that this was not a generalized procedure. However, there were some cases which required the feeding of the newborn with a sugar solution. Some mothers might deliver their babies by caesarean section and might be reluctant to breastfeed them; while other mothers simply refused to breastfeed.
Obesity was not a major problem in the society, however, the Government was providing guidelines on how to feed children in schools and in the family, the delegation said. The fact that the statistics on obesity were high did not mean that people were over fed.
In preliminary remarks, Committee Chairperson Jakob Egbert Doek, who served as country rapporteur to the report of San Marino, said that the information provided by the delegation on the protection and promotion of the rights of children in the country was important. The Committee would issue its recommendations on the basis of the discussion. He drew the Government’s attention to the need for an ongoing review of the environment of child welfare, education and health. The recommendations would be a form of encouragement for the Government and would include remarks on the system of child adoption.