COMMITTEE ON RIGHTS OF CHILD CONCLUDES TWENTY-NINTH SESSION



1 February 2002



ROUND-UP





Releases Final Conclusions and Recommendations on
Reports of Lebanon, Greece, Gabon, Mozambique,
Chile, Malawi, Bahrain, and Andorra


The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its three-week winter session and issued its final observations and recommendations on reports submitted to it by Lebanon, Greece, Gabon, Mozambique, Chile, Malawi, Bahrain and Andorra.

The eight countries, in keeping with their obligations as States parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, presented the Committee with written reports on their efforts to promote and protect children's rights, and sent Government delegations to discuss the documents and answer questions from the Committee's 10 independent Experts.

In reviewing the report of Lebanon, the Committee noted with satisfaction legislative changes made in light of its previous recommendations. The Committee acknowledged that the difficulties related to the destruction of much of the infrastructure during the conflict in Lebanon from 1975 to 1990, including the substantial reconstruction requirements, were factors impeding the implementation of the provisions of the Convention; it, however, said that it was concerned at allegations that children as young as 15 had been subjected to torture and ill-treatment during incommunicado detention. It strongly recommended that the State party enforce or review existing legislation.

The Committee welcomed the establishment in Greece of a National Observatory on the Rights of Children for the monitoring and implementation of the Convention. The Committee noted ongoing efforts by Greece to introduce relevant legislation; however, it remained concerned that some aspects of domestic legislation were still not consistent with the principles and provisions of the Convention and that implementation of existing legislation needed to be improved. It recommended that the State party harmonize legislation with the Convention; strengthen implementation of domestic legislation toward improved protection of children's rights; and that it proceed with ratification of the 1993 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.


On the report of Gabon, the Committee welcomed the adoption of a number of laws, including the Act enacted in 2001 that established the offence of trafficking of children; the National Plan of Action against Poverty; and the Children's Parliament, among others; it recommended that the State party set the same minimum age for marriage for girls and boys by increasing the minimum age for girls; and it said it was concerned by the persistence of de facto discrimination against girls in Gabon. The Committee was concerned at the still high infant and under-5 mortality rates and the low life expectancy in Gabon; and recommended that the State party reinforce its efforts to allocate appropriate resources and develop and implement comprehensive policies and programmes to improve the health situation of children.

With regard to the situation in Mozambique, the Committee noted the tremendous progress in repatriating and rehabilitating the hundreds of thousands of persons displaced from their homes during the armed conflict, and in de-mining; and the efforts toward securing respect for the rights of children with disabilities; it said it was concerned that 90 per cent of people run down by cars involved children as indicated in the report; and landmines continued to pose a serious threat to children's survival and development. It recommended that a policy for the prevention of child accidents be developed and implemented; and that efforts to clear landmines be continued.

Among positive aspects in the report of Chile, the Committee noted with satisfaction the establishment in 1995 of the National Committee against Child Abuse and in 1996 of the National Advisory Committee for the prevention and eradication of child labour; however, it noted with concern that the Juvenile Act of 1967, which was based on the doctrine of "irregular situation" and, thus, did not make a clear distinction between children in need of care and protection and those in conflict with the law, was still in force; it recommended that measures be developed to raise awareness on the harmful effects of corporal punishment and that the Government engage in the promotion of alternative forms of discipline in families.

With regard to Malawi, the Committee welcomed the adoption of the National Programme of Action for the Survival and Development of Children, but said it was concerned that the Programme had not been sufficiently implemented and that the impact of HIV/AIDS, mounting economic challenges, and other socio-economic difficulties as well as traditional practices and witchcraft continued to threaten the right to life survival and development with the State. It encouraged the State party to reinforce its efforts to provide greater protection and support to children. It also recommended that the State make primary education compulsory and extend the period for free primary education.

Concerning Bahrain, the Committee welcomed, among other things, the ratification of ILO Convention No. 182 concerning the worst forms of child labour; the establishment of the National Committee on Children in 1999 to coordinate the implementation of the Convention; and excellent health indicators and the high ranking in UNDP's 2001 Human Development Report. It said it was encouraged by the efforts of the State party towards greater openness and accountability with respect to human rights. The Committee was concerned that there was no defined minimum age for marriage, and that there were inconsistencies in other areas of Bahraini law with respect to minimum ages; it recommended that the State party continue to review and take steps to amend its legislation so that the minimum-age requirements were gender neutral and explicit.

And on the report of Andorra, the Committee noted with satisfaction the efforts made by the State party to modernize its traditional jurisdiction system; however, it noted with concern that the low minimum age for marriage was 16 years of age, 14 years of age with the judge's permission; it recommended that the State party review its legislation with a view to increasing the minimum age for marriage. It also noted with concern that children of seasonal workers residing illegally in Andorra might have difficulties in enjoying health and education services.

The Committee expressed concern at the lack of data and information on child abuse and neglect; and recommended that the State party undertake studies on domestic violence, ill-treatment and abuse, including sexual abuse within the family, and bullying in schools in order to assess the extent of those practices.

The Committee also adopted a recommendation on its methods of work in which it decided to inform States parties in the related concluding observations adopted by it about the deadline for the submission of their second and following periodic reports. It also adopted guidelines regarding initial reports to be submitted by States parties under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

The Committee's next session, its thirtieth, will be held from 21 May to 7 June 2002. It will consider reports from Guinea-Bissau, Belgium, Niger, Belarus, Tunisia, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Spain and the Netherlands.


Conclusions and Recommendations on Country Reports

LEBANON

Among positive aspects, the Committee noted with satisfaction legislative changes made in Lebanon in light of its previous recommendations. It further noted with satisfaction the legislative changes and the adoption of several laws, including the law rendering education until the age of 12 free and compulsory. The Committee also noted Lebanon's commitment to the issue of children's rights and the efforts to collect reliable information on the situation of children as well as to disseminate and create awareness of the Convention, notably by integrating the Convention into school curricula.

The Committee acknowledged that the difficulties related to the destruction of much of the infrastructure during the conflict in Lebanon from 1975 to 1990, including the substantial reconstruction requirements, particularly in South Lebanon, as well as political instability and economic difficulties, were factors impeding the implementation of the provisions of the Convention.

The Committee, while noting that part of the national legislation had been amended, and continued to be reviewed, remained concerned about continuing inconsistencies of domestic legislation with the Convention, particularly in the areas of the right to nationality, age of marriage, custody, guardianship, inheritance and the rights of refugee children, among others. It recommended that the State party reinforce its efforts on law reform, particularly regarding the different confessional justice systems. It reiterated its recommendation for the State party to take all appropriate measures to ensure that the general principle of the best interests of the child was appropriately integrated in all legislation, as well as judicial and administrative decisions and in policies, programmes and services that had an impact on children.

The Committee said it was concerned at allegations that children as young as 15 had been subjected to torture and ill-treatment during incommunicado detention. It strongly recommended that the State party enforce or review existing legislation, with a view to preventing children being held incommunicado, and investigate in an effective way reported cases of ill-treatment of children; ensure that alleged perpetrators be transferred from active duty or suspended while they were under investigation, that they be dismissed and punished if convicted, and that court proceedings and sentences should be publicized; and that Lebanon train law enforcement personnel on child issues.

The Committee further said it was concerned that violence as a means of discipline in the home and at school was culturally and legally acceptable in Lebanon, and regretted that no follow-up to the Committee's previous recommendation on this issue had been initiated; and it was concerned that despite its prohibition by ministerial decision, corporal punishment was still practiced in schools. It urged the State party to urgently take all legislative measures to prohibit all forms of physical and mental violence, including corporal punishment and sexual abuse, against children in the family and the schools. It furthermore recommended that the State party conduct a study to assess the nature and extent of ill-treatment and abuse of children, and that it design policies and programmes to address it. And it recommended that Lebanon establish effective procedures and mechanisms to receive, monitor, and investigate complaints.

The Committee noted the achievements by Lebanon in the area of health care, notably the downward long-term trend in infant and child mortality and the improvements in the areas of immunization. However, it was concerned about the unequal enjoyment of the right to access to primary health care services by children in different parts of the country resulting in wide regional and social variations in infant and child mortality and quality care. It urged the State party to reinforce its efforts to allocate appropriate resources; ensure equal access to and equal health care to all children; initiate effective follow-up to its previous recommendation; and seek technical assistance from, among others, WHO and UNICEF.

The Committee said it was concerned about the high rate of Palestinian children living below the poverty line, as well as the lack of adequate access of many Palestinian children to many basic rights; it reiterated its recommendations that the State party seek ways of addressing the socio-economic problems among Palestinian children that affected them negatively.


GREECE

The Committee noted, as a positive factor, that the Convention formed part of national law and took precedence over domestic legislation; it welcomed the State party's recent ratification of the ILO Convention 182 concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour; the establishment of a National Observatory on the Rights of Children for the monitoring and implementation of the Convention; and the establishment of the Youth Parliament and of Pupils Councils, among other things.

The Committee noted the ongoing efforts by Greece to introduce relevant legislation; however, it remained concerned that some aspects of domestic legislation were still not consistent with the principles and provisions of the Convention and that implementation of existing legislation needed to be improved. It recommended that the State party harmonize legislation with the Convention; strengthen implementation of domestic legislation toward improved protection of children's rights; and proceed with ratification of the 1993 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.

The Committee recommended that the State party clarify the age of majority, with particular regard to penal law and the international practice that juvenile justice standards were extended to children up until age 18; and that it raise the minimum age at which persons could be conscripted into the armed forces at least to the age of 18.

While noting the State party's legislation against xenophobia and hate speech, the Committee remained deeply concerned at the discrimination, including some societal discrimination and instances of xenophobia, against, inter alia, children from distinct ethnic, religious, linguistic or cultural groups within Greece. It recommended that the State party urgently strengthen its efforts to end all forms of discrimination affecting children, including through the strengthening of implementation of anti-discrimination laws and possibilities for children, and their parents, who were victims of discrimination to seek recourse through the judicial system.

The Committee recommended that the State party take steps to prevent road accidents and domestic accidents of poisoning involving children; and that it improve respect for the rights to life, survival and development of Roma children, including through proactive efforts on the part of relevant authorities. The Committee recommended that the State party prohibit all forms of violence against children, including corporal punishment, by law in all contexts, including in the family.

The Committee was concerned at the high percentage of persons -- 19.5 per cent -- estimated to be living below the minimum poverty standard and that the rights of some children, including to a family environment, might be violated; that financial "allowances" were not provided to children themselves but rather to mothers, irrespective of whether they were caring for their children; and that the amount of such financial allowances was extremely low and, in addition, that many Roma families did not receive those allowances at all.

The Committee recommended that Greece continue to further strengthen its ongoing efforts to improve the protection of children's rights in the context of alternative care; strengthen its health structure, including through the recruitment of additional nurses and social workers; ensure that all children had access to health care, irrespective of the insurance situation of their parents; and give particular attention to ensuring the access to health care of children from Roma communities and other economically disadvantaged groups, among other things.

Further, the Committee recommended that the State party consider means to reduce delays in the consideration of asylum requests and in subsequent administrative and judicial proceedings which affected children, and to avoid the detention of children; ensure that child asylum seekers or refugees, and their families, had access to legal aid assistance; and make every effort to end practices of discrimination against child asylum seekers or refugees and their families.


GABON

On the report of Gabon, the Committee welcomed the adoption of a number of laws, including the Act enacted in 2001 that established the offence of trafficking of children; the 20/20 initiative for budgeting; the National Plan of Action against Poverty; and the Children's Parliament, among others.

The Committee recommended that the State party set the same minimum age for marriage for girls and boys by increasing the minimum age for girls; and that it develop sensitization programmes involving community leaders, and the society at large, including children themselves, to curb the practice of early marriage.


While noting that discrimination was prohibited under the Constitution, and noting that the State party had taken measures to suppress discrimination against children born out of wedlock and against disabled children, the Committee was concerned by the persistence of de facto discrimination in Gabon. In particular, it was concerned at the disparities in the enjoyment of rights experienced by children belonging to the most vulnerable groups, such as girls, children with disabilities, children born out of wedlock, children living in rural areas, and Pygmy children. It recommended that the State party make greater efforts to ensure that all children within its jurisdiction enjoy all the rights set out in the Convention.

Although it welcomed the existence of a Children's Parliament, the Committee said it was concerned that, due to traditional attitudes, respect for the views of the child remained limited within the family, in schools, in the courts, before administrative authorities, and in the society at large. It encouraged the State party to pursue its efforts to promote and facilitate within the family and the society, through the adoption of legislation, respect for the views of children.

The Committee was deeply concerned that torture was still used by law enforcement personnel during investigations and in detention centres as mentioned in the State party report; it urged the State party to take all necessary measures to immediately put an end to those forms of torture or violence against children and to address their causes in order to prevent the re-occurrence of those violations of children's rights; that it establish an independent mechanism to investigate reports of torture; and that it bring to justice the responsible persons.

The Committee was concerned at the still high infant and under-5 mortality rates and the low life expectancy in Gabon; that health services in the districts and local areas continued to lack adequate resources and that medicines were too expensive and not easily accessible; that the survival and development of children within the State party continued to be threatened by early childhood diseases; and it was also concerned at the regular outbreaks of epidemic such as Ebola. It recommended that the State party reinforce its efforts to allocate appropriate resources and develop and implement comprehensive policies and programmes to improve the health situation of children; and that it facilitate greater access to primary health services.

While noting the existence of the National Anti-AIDS Programme and the effort of the State party in that respect, the Committee remained extremely concerned at the high incidence and increasing prevalence of HIV/AIDS among adults and children and the resulting number of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. It recommended that the State party increase its efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS; and that Gabon urgently consider ways of minimizing the impact upon children of HIV/AIDS-related deaths of parents, teachers and others.

The Committee encouraged, among other things, that the State party pursue its efforts to set up a comprehensive programme to prevent and combat the sale and trafficking of children; and that it implement policies and programmes for the rehabilitation and recovery of children victims and for the access to basic services for children who were waiting for their repatriation.


MOZAMBIQUE

Among positive factors, the Committee noted Mozambique's success in achieving significant economic improvements and the adoption by the Government of a National Plan for the Reduction of Poverty; the tremendous progress in repatriating and rehabilitating the hundreds of thousands of persons displaced from their homes during the armed conflict, and in de-mining; and the efforts toward securing respect for the rights of children with disabilities.

While noting that the State party's Constitution prohibited discrimination, the Committee remained concerned that girls were particularly vulnerable to gender discrimination, and that some aspects of customary law reinforced such discrimination; and discrimination against children with disabilities was prevalent, as indicated in the country's report, and girls with disabilities might suffer multiple forms of discrimination. It recommended that the State party continue its efforts to ensure the compatibility of all domestic legislation and customary law practices with the Convention.

The Committee said it was concerned that 90 per cent of people run down by cars involved children as indicated in the report; and that landmines continued to pose a serious threat to children's survival and development. It recommended that a policy for the prevention of child accidents be developed and implemented; and that efforts to clear landmines be continued.

The Committee was concerned by acts of violence and abuse, including sexual abuse, committed against children in schools and alternative care institutions and by the general public or police forces in the streets and that boys were not as well protected from sexual offences as girls; that corporal punishment was widely practiced; and that the State party had insufficient mechanisms for the monitoring of abuse and neglect of children. It recommended that the State take action to address acts of violence and abuse committed against children and that it end the practice of corporal punishment.

The Committee was deeply concerned that health service coverage was still insufficient in terms of infrastructure, personnel and accessibility for the general population and that maternal mortality was very high, related in part to insufficient pre-natal care and assistance at birth and to the large number, and poor conditions of clandestine abortions. Recognizing the significant progress achieved in the last 10 years and noting recent increases in health investment and immunization rates, the Committee urgently recommended that the State party continue to improve access for all children and their families to primary health care; and that it give urgent attention and design practical measures to reducing infant, under-5 and maternal mortality rates.

While noting the State party's efforts in the domain of HIV/AIDS, the Committee remained deeply concerned by the very serious impact of HIV/AIDS on the cultural, economic, political, social and civil rights and freedoms of children infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS; by the extremely high, and rising, incidence of HIV/AIDS infection; and the continuing lack of knowledge among many people of how HIV/AIDS was transmitted. It recommended that the State party continue and strengthen its efforts to address the incidence of HIV/AIDS.

Among other things, the Committee recommended that the State party make additional efforts to assist former refugees and internally displaced persons to resettle in their communities; and that it improve its collaboration with relevant neighbouring countries to ensure that children who sought to cross through, or leave, Mozambique and to those countries were treated in full respect of the Convention's provisions.


CHILE

Among positive aspects in the report of Chile, the Committee welcomed the adoption in April 2001 of the National Policy in favour of children and adolescents and the Integrated Plan of Action for 2001-2010; and it noted with satisfaction the establishment in 1995 of the National Committee against child abuse and in 1996 of the National Advisory Committee for the prevention and eradication of child labour.

The Committee noted with concern that the Juvenile Act of 1967, which was based on the doctrine of "irregular situation" and, thus, did not make a clear distinction between children in need of care and protection and those in conflict with the law, was still in force; and it recommended that all necessary measures be taken for the adoption of the laws amending the Act.

The Committee was concerned that corporal punishment of children remained socially accepted in Chile and that it was still practiced in families, schools and other institutions; and it noted that Chilean legislation did not expressly prohibit corporal punishment. It recommended that measures be developed to raise awareness on the harmful effects of corporal punishment and that the State party engage in the promotion of alternative forms of discipline in families to be administered in a manner consistent with the child's dignity and in conformity with the Convention; and that it explicitly prohibit corporal punishment.

The Committee recommended, among other things, that the State party undertake studies on domestic violence, ill-treatment and abuse, including sexual abuse, within the family and in institutions in order to assess the extent, scope and nature of those practices; adopt as soon as possible and implement effectively the draft National Service for the Protection of Children's Rights Act; and investigate effectively cases of domestic violence and ill-treatment and abuse of children, including sexual abuse.

The Committee, while noting the increase in the school attendance rate, expressed its concern at the difficult access to education, high dropout and repetition rates, which affected in particular indigenous children, poor children and the ones living in rural areas; the low rate of children reaching secondary education; and the treatment of children with behavioural problems. The Committee recommended that the State party ensure regular attendance at schools and the reduction of dropout rates, especially with regard to indigenous children; ensure that measures were effectively implemented in order for pregnant girls to continue attending school both during and after their pregnancy; and improve the quality of education.

The Committee also recommended that the State party continue to enforce and strengthen its legislation protecting working children in accordance with ILO Conventions No. 138 and 182; implement and monitor the National Plan to Prevent and Eradicate Child Labour; and combat and eradicate as effectively as possible all forms of child labour.

The Committee, while taking note of the establishment of a Working Group to prepare a Plan of Action against Sexual Commercial Exploitation of Children, expressed its concern, with regard to the phenomenon of commercial sexual exploitation of children, that there was no data available, that legislation was inadequate, and that cases involving sexually exploited children were often not investigated and prosecuted. It recommended that the State undertake a study on the issue in order to assess its scope and causes; decriminalize prostitution of children and protect them from commercial sexual exploitation up the age of 18; and develop and adopt a national plan of action against sexual and commercial exploitation of children.


MALAWI

The Committee found as positive various measures undertaken by Malawi, including the adoption of the 1993 Programme of Action for the Survival and Development of Children; the 1996 National Youth Council Act; the 1998 National Early Childhood Development Police; and the creation of the Children Affairs Division. While noting that the adoption, in 1995, of a new Constitution was the first step for the protection of child rights, the Committee remained concerned that those provisions did not always comply with the Convention; it recommended that the State party undertake all steps to harmonize existing legislation, including the Constitution and customary law, with the Convention; and that it consider the adoption of a comprehensive children's code that would reflect the general principles of the Convention.

Among factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Convention, the Committee acknowledged the fact that the State party was a landlocked country and that the extreme poverty facing the State party had had and still had a negative impact on the situation of children; and it noted the impact of high external debt payments, measures imposed by structural adjustment, extremely high annual inflation, the recent declining economic conditions and rampant corruption, especially on children belonging to the most vulnerable groups. The Committee also noted the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The Committee was concerned about the various legal minimum ages that were inconsistent, discriminatory and too low; it recommended that the State party take the necessary legislative measures to establish a clear definition of the child in accordance with article 1 and other related principles and provisions of the Convention; increase the legal age of criminal responsibility in the best interests of the child; and establish clear minimum ages for marriage and correct the discrimination between boys and girls.

While welcoming the adoption of the National Programme of Action for the Survival and Development of Children, and noting that the right to life was included in the Constitution, the Committee remained concerned that the Programme had not been sufficiently implemented and that the impact of HIV/AIDS, mounting economic challenges, and other socio-economic difficulties as well as traditional practices and witchcraft continued to threaten the right to life survival and development. It encouraged the State party to reinforce its efforts to provide greater protection and support to children whose right to life, survival and development were unduly threatened by the difficult socio-economic realities.

The Committee recommended, among other things, that the State party reinforce its efforts to allocate appropriate resources and develop and implement comprehensive policies and programmes to improve the health situation of children, particularly in rural areas; facilitate greater access to free primary health services; reduce the incidence of maternal, child and infant mortality; prevent and combat malnutrition; and promote proper breast-feeding practices. While noting the existence of the National AIDS Control Programme, the Committee remained extremely concerned at the high incidence and increasing prevalence of HIV/AIDS. It recommended that the State party increase its efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS; and that it urgently consider ways of minimizing the impact upon children of HIV/AIDS-related deaths of parents.

The Committee said it was concerned at the persistent practice of harmful traditional practices, including early and forced sexual relations or marriages. It recommended that legislative and awareness-raising measures be taken to prohibit and eradicate traditional practices harmful to the health, survival and development of children. It also recommended that the State make primary education compulsory and extend the period for free primary education.


BAHRAIN

The Committee welcomed, among other things, the ratification of ILO Convention No. 182 concerning the worst forms of child labour; the establishment of the National Committee on Children in 1999 to coordinate the implementation of the Convention; and excellent health indicators and Bahrain's high ranking in UNDP's 2001 Human Development Report.
The Committee said it was concerned that the Shari'a Court system lacked many basic and minimum international safeguards and procedures, including those contained in the Convention, without which the right to a fair trial or adequate access to the courts could be guaranteed in practice. In particular, that Shari'a remained uncodified and was applied in its classical sense without reference to State legislation. It recommended that the State party conduct a comprehensive review of its domestic laws, administrative regulations and procedural rules, including Shari'a, to ensure that they conformed to international human rights standards.

The Committee was concerned that there was no defined minimum age for marriage, and that there were inconsistencies in other areas of Bahraini law with respect to minimum ages; it recommended that the State party continue to review and take steps to amend its legislation so that the minimum-age requirements were gender neutral, were explicit and that it ensure that they were enforced by law; and in particular that Bahrain establish a minimum age for marriage that was the same for males and females.

The Committee said it was encouraged by the efforts of the State party towards greater openness and accountability with respect to human rights, including the withdrawal of its reservation to article 20 of the Convention against Torture; it strongly recommended that the State party effectively and efficiently investigate all cases of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment by police officers or other government officials and that it bring the perpetrators to justice; and that it pay full attention to the victims of those violations and provide them with adequate compensation, recovery and social reintegration.

The Committee welcomed information that adolescent health education had been proposed to be included in the curricula; noting the information provided that access to basic education was free and almost universal, the Committee was nevertheless concerned that education was still not compulsory, and pre-primary education was available only through private institutions; it recommended that the State party expedite the promulgation of the draft law on free and compulsory education; and take steps to provide free pre-primary education.


ANDORRA

Among positive aspects in the report of Andorra, the Committee noted with satisfaction the efforts made by the State party to modernize its traditional jurisdiction system. The Committee welcomed the reform of the juvenile justice system with the establishment of Judges for Minors; and the international cooperation on behalf of children provided by Andorra in cooperation with non-governmental organizations.

The Committee noted with concern that the low minimum age for marriage was 16 years of age, 14 years of age with the judge's permission; it recommended that the State party review its legislation with a view to increasing the minimum age for marriage. It also noted with concern that children of seasonal workers residing illegally in Andorra might have difficulties in enjoying health and education services. It was also concerned at the traditional approach, essentially based on welfare and protection, taken by the State party with regard to the implementation and monitoring of children's issues; and recommended that Andorra strengthen its child rights-based approach on all issues relevant to children.


The Committee noted with concern the negative impact on children of both parents working during the week-end; it further noted the increase of single parent families; it recommended that the State party undertake studies on how parental week-end work would affect children and on single-parent families in order to assess the extent, scope and nature of those problems.

It expressed concern at the lack of data and information on child abuse and neglect; further, while noting that corporal punishment in school was prohibited under law, it remained concerned that corporal punishment in the family was not expressly prohibited; and it also noted with concern reports about episodes of bullying in schools. The Committee recommended that the State party undertake studies on domestic violence, ill-treatment and abuse, including sexual abuse, within the family and bullying in schools in order to assess the extent of those practices.

The Committee expressed its concern about the health problems faced by adolescents within the State party, including drug abuse, and the fact that they make little use of the health services available to them; in particular, it took note of the number of cases of anxiety and depression affecting children and of the fact that psychological treatments for children were not covered by the social security system; it recommended that the State party continue and expand the services provided by "Consulta Jove".


Convention on Rights of Child

The General Assembly adopted the Convention unanimously on 10 November 1989, 30 years after the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of the Child. The Convention makes States, which accepted, legally accountable for their actions towards children. Work on its drafting began in 1979 -- the International Year of the Child -- at the Commission on Human Rights.

The Convention was opened for signature on 26 January 1990. That day, 61 countries signed it, a record first-day response. It entered into force just seven months later, on 2 September 1990.

Ratifying the Convention entails reviewing national legislation to make sure it is in line with the provisions of the treaty. The Convention stipulates, among other things, that: every child had the right to life, and States shall ensure to the maximum child survival and development; every child has the right to a name and nationality from birth; and, when courts, welfare institutions or administrative authorities deal with children, the child's best interests shall be a primary consideration. The Convention recognizes the right of children to be heard.

Furthermore, States shall ensure that each child enjoys full rights without discrimination or distinctions of any kind; that children should not be separated from their parents, unless by competent authorities for their well-being; States should facilitate reunification of families by permitting travel into, or out of, their territories, and States shall protect children from physical or mental harm and neglect, including sexual abuse or exploitation.

Also according to the Convention, disabled children shall have the right to special treatment, education and care; primary education shall be free and compulsory and discipline in school should respect the child's dignity; capital punishment or life imprisonment shall not be imposed for crimes committed before the age of 18; no child under 15 should take any part in hostilities and children exposed to armed conflict shall receive special protection; and children of minority and indigenous populations shall freely enjoy their own culture, religion and language.


Committee Membership

The Convention requires that the members of the Committee have a high moral standing and recognized competence in the field of children's rights. The following experts, nominated by the States parties to serve in their personal capacity, have been elected to the Committee: Ibrahim Abdul Aziz Al-Sheddi (Saudi Arabia), Ghalia Mohd Bin Hmad Al-Thani (Qatar), Jacob Egbert Doek (Netherlands), Saisuree Chutikul (Thailand), Luigi Citarella (Italy), Amina Hamza El Guindi (Egypt), Judith Karp (Israel), Awa N'Deye Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso), Marilia Sardenberg (Brazil), and Elizabeth Tigerstedt-Tahtela (Finland).

The Chairperson is Mr. Doek. Vice Chairpersons are Mrs. El Guindi, Mrs. Ouedraogo, and Mrs. Sardenberg. Mrs. Karp is Rapporteur.


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