COMMITTEE ON RIGHTS OF CHILD CONCLUDES THIRTY-EIGHTH SESSION


28 January 2005

Adopts Conclusions on Reports from Sweden, Albania, Luxembourg,
Austria, Belize, the Bahamas, Iran, Togo, Bolivia and Nigeria



The Committee on the Rights of the Child concluded today its thirty-eighth session and issued its conclusions and recommendations on the situation of children in Sweden, Albania, Luxembourg, Austria, Belize, the Bahamas, Iran, Togo, Bolivia and Nigeria whose reports on efforts to comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child were considered this session.

The conclusions and recommendations were contained in the Committee's final report for the three-week session, which was adopted today by the 18-member Committee.

After reviewing the report of Sweden, the Committee highly appreciated the adoption of the 1999 National Strategy for the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the enactment of the 2002 Bill reinforcing the role of the Children’s Ombudsman. It also noted with appreciation Sweden’s outstanding performance in the area of international cooperation and development assistance. The Committee welcomed the measures taken by the State party to combat racism, especially as it pertained to children. It recommended that the State party continue strengthening the measures taken to combat racism and xenophobia, including in the field of education.

Concerning the report of Albania, the Committee welcomed the many legislative amendments providing for equal rights to all children, including giving children equal inheritance rights without discrimination based on their status at birth. The Committee was concerned that discrimination persisted in particular with respect to ethnic minorities, including Roma children, disabled children and those living in remote areas where many children had reduced access to support and protection. The Committee urged the State party to undertake concerted actions to develop and implement policies aimed at countering the various forms of discrimination in the State party.

After having considered the report of Luxembourg, the Committee noted with appreciation the establishment of an Ombudsman and other institutions related to child rights. The Committee continued to be concerned that there was no legislation explicitly prohibiting corporal punishment within the family and that that practice seemed to be largely accepted in the society. It urged the State party to introduce a provision expressly prohibiting corporal punishment within the family, and to strengthen its efforts in order to raise awareness for parents and care-givers of alternative non-violent forms of discipline.

With regard to the report of Austria, the Committee noted with appreciation the adoption of a number of legislative acts and the ratification of international instruments pertaining to the rights of the child. While noting the efforts made by the State party, the Committee remained concerned about the health problems faced by adolescents, in particular about drug and tobacco use and alcohol abuse. It recommended that the State party strengthen its efforts to prevent drug and tobacco use and alcohol abuse and to harmonize the different regulations in the various Länders on that matter.

Concerning the initial report of Austria on the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the involvement of children in armed conflicts, the Committee noted with satisfaction that the Austrian National Defence Act had been amended in 2001 in order to reflect the provisions of the Optional Protocol. It welcomed the State party’s international and bilateral technical cooperation activities and financial assistance aimed at preventing the involvement of children in armed conflicts.

Responding to the report of Belize, the Committee took note of the adoption of several laws aimed at protecting and promoting the rights of the child and the ratification of a number of international and regional human rights instruments. While noting the State party’s efforts to combat violence and abuse against children, the Committee remained gravely concerned at the generally violent environment where Belizean children were living and recommended that the State party take all necessary measures to introduce awareness-raising campaigns, with the involvement of children themselves. The Committee expressed its grave concern about the situation of children with disabilities and regretted that de facto discrimination against them still existed.

After considering the report of the Bahamas, the Committee found positive the adoption of the Status of Children Act in 2002, the Inheritance act in 2000, and Early Childhood Car Act 2004. The Committee was concerned that societal discrimination persisted against vulnerable groups of children, including children living in poverty and children with disabilities. Concerned at the high rate of teenage pregnancies and drug abuses among adolescents, the Committee recommended that the State party increase its efforts to establish and promote adequate services on adolescent health. The Committee noted with appreciation that the largest part of the national budget was allocated to education and that primary and secondary education was free in public schools for all children.

With regard to the report of Iran, the Committee welcomed the provision of free education for all citizens up to secondary school, and the fact that over 90 per cent of children between 6 and 10 years enjoyed access to primary education. The Committee was deeply concerned at the persisting discrimination against girls and women, in particular in their role as parents, reflected in various legal provisions and practice. It recommended that the State party promptly review all its legislation to ensure that it was non-discriminatory, gender neutral and ensure that it was enforced. Among its recommendations, the Committee urged the State party to ensure that all children were registered at birth and acquired an irrevocable nationality without discrimination.

After considering the report of Togo, the Committee welcomed the recent ratification of a number of important human rights instruments by the State party. The Committee was concerned at the high number of children victims of violence, abuse and neglect, including sexual abuse, in schools, in detention centres, in public places and in the family. It recommended that the State party adopt a legislation effectively prohibiting all forms of violence, abuse and neglect. While noting the measures taken to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS from mothers to children, the Committee recommended that the State party increase its efforts to prevent the disease.

With regard to the report of Bolivia, the Committee welcomed a number of positive developments, including entry into force of the Code for Children and Adolescents, promulgation of the Law on Municipalities, and the establishment of the Vice-Ministry for Youth, Children and the Elderly. The Committee reiterated its concern about the situation of children living in prisons with one of their parents and about the living conditions of those children. It was also concerned about the high number of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections and at the high incidence of alcohol and tobacco abuse. It recommended that the State party pay close attention to adolescent health.

And concerning the report of Nigeria, the Committee welcomed the initiatives taken by the State party to reform its laws relating to children and the adoption of the Anti-Human Trafficking Law and the establishment of the Children’s Parliament. It was deeply concerned about traditional and discriminatory attitudes and behaviour towards women and children. The State party was urged to strengthen considerably its efforts to prevent and combat violence in society, including violence against women and children. The Committee noted with appreciation the serious and exemplary efforts undertaken by the State party to combat trafficking.

The Committee's next session will be held from17 May to 3 June 2005 at the Palais Wilson in Geneva. Scheduled for consideration are reports of St. Lucia, the Philippines, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nepal, Ecuador, Norway, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Yemen.

Final Observations and Recommendations on Reports Presented


SWEDEN

The Committee, having considered the third periodic report of Sweden, highly appreciated the adoption of the 1999 National Strategy for the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the 2000 Plan of Action for National Disability Policy; the 2002 amendments to the Social Security Act to improve protection of children from abuse; the non-recognition of the early and forced marriages by the law that entered into force on 1 May 2004; the entry into force as of 1 January 2005 of the amended legislation on inter-country adoption; and the various legislative measures to improve the protection of children from sexual abuse and exploitation.

While the Committee welcomed the enactment of the 2002 Bill reinforcing the role of the Children’s Ombudsman, it recommended that the State party consider providing the Children’s Ombudsman with the mandate to investigate individual complaints. The Committee noted with concern that no data was available on the total number of children with disabilities; on children from 15 to 18 years who were victims of abuse; and the total number of child victims of sexual exploitation was not precise. It recommended the State party to establish a coordinated approach between all entities collecting data on children and introduce a comprehensive system of data collection incorporating all the areas covered by the Convention.

The Committee noted with appreciation Sweden’s outstanding performance in the area of international cooperation and development assistance. In that regard, the Committee noted that the State party allocated a significant percentage of its gross domestic product to foreign aid, of which 60 percent was spent on children or professionals and others who worked with, for or on behalf of children or safeguarded their interests. It recommended that the State party continue and strengthen its leading role in international development cooperation projects relating to children.

The Committee welcomed the measures taken by the State party to combat racism, especially as it pertained to children, and to ensure that education of children was directed to the development of respect for civilizations different from his/her own and of friendship among all peoples. However, the Committee was concerned about reports of racism, especially in schools, and about reports of racist organisations recruiting children from the age of 13. The Committee recommended that the State party continue strengthening the measures taken to combat racism and xenophobia, including in the field of education.

The Committee was concerned about the degree of violence accessible to children on the Internet and shown on television early in the evenings. The Committee was further concerned about the insufficient protection of children against child pornography and violent computer games. The Committee recommended that the State party take all necessary measures, including by enforcing appropriate legislation, providing parental education and awareness-raising of children, to effectively protect children against violence on the Internet, television and computer games, and against the display of child pornography and that Sweden encourage international cooperation in this respect.

ALBANIA

The Committee found among positive developments in the initial report of Albania the adoption of the new Family Code in 2003; the establishment of an Inter-Ministerial Committee for the Rights of the Child in 2004 by the Council of Ministers and an inter-ministerial group of experts to facilitate its work; the ratification of ILO Convention no.138 concerning the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment in 1998 and ILO Convention no. 182 concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in 2001; and the ratification of the 1993 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption in 2000.

The Committee welcomed the many legislative amendments providing for equal rights to all children, including giving children equal inheritance rights without discrimination based on their status at birth. However, the Committee was concerned that discrimination persisted, in particular with respect to ethnic minorities, including Roma children, disabled children and those living in remote areas where many children had reduced access to support and protection. The Committee urged the State party to undertake concerted actions to develop and implement policies aimed at countering the various forms of discrimination in the State party.

While welcoming the information provided in the State party report relating to legislation protecting the right to life of all persons, the Committee noted with deep concern that the practice of the vendetta and revenge had re-emerged during the 1990’s as well as at the reported occurrence of honour killings (blood feud). The Committee was concerned that efforts undertaken to counter such occurrences in practice had not helped to eradicate those phenomena. The Committee urged the State party to strengthen measures to counter the practices of revenge killings as well as others having a destructive impact on the development of the child.

The Committee was concerned that "maltreatment" was one of the most acute problems in the Albanian society, as noted by the State party. The Committee noted that domestic violence remained under-reported but was common, as were other forms of ill-treatment and abuse, including sexual abuse. Concern was also expressed at the insufficient resources, including lack of adequately trained personnel, to prevent and combat such abuse. The Committee recommended that the State party undertake comprehensive studies on domestic violence, ill-treatment and abuse to understand the causes, scope and nature of these practices. It was also concerned that corporal punishment remained lawful in the family, and continued to be used as a disciplinary method and urged the State party to expressly prohibit by law all corporal punishment in the family.

The Committee was concerned about the decline of public expenditures on education and noted that data about school attendance, transition rates and drop out rates from different sources were contradictory and made it difficult to assess the effectiveness of the school system. The State party was urged to strengthen its ongoing efforts to address the problems related to training of teachers as well as increasing budget allocations with a view to improving quality of education and physical conditions in schools.

LUXEMBOURG

After considering the second periodic report of Luxembourg, the Committee noted with appreciation the establishment of an Ombudsman (Médiateur); the independent human rights institution, the Consultative Commission on Human Rights; the Luxembourg Committee on the rights of the child, the “Ombuds-Comité” (ORK); the legislative measures introducing the crime of torture in the Criminal Code; a regime of temporary protection for asylum-seekers; Protection of Young Workers Act; the protection of pregnant workers and workers who had recently given birth or were breastfeeding; the new article 384 of the Criminal Code expressly punishing child pornography and providing for the confiscation of all related items; and the appointment of five intercultural mediators from countries of origin of children of asylum seekers, with the role of facilitating contact between teachers, families and children.

While the Committee appreciated the measures taken by the State party to prevent and combat child pornography on the Internet, as well as the introduction of article 384 of the criminal code punishing the possession of pornographic material involving children, it remained concerned about the exposure of children to violence, racism and pornography, especially through the Internet. It recommended that the State party continue to take all appropriate measures to effectively protect children from being exposed to violence, racism and pornography through mobile technology, video movies, games and other technologies, including the Internet.

The Committee was concerned about the fact that parents automatically lost parental authority over their children when they were placed in foster care or in institutions by the courts, apparently without determining whether such an automatic measure was in the best interests of the child. It Committee recommended that the State party take all possible measures, including revision of the existing legislation, in order to adequately protect parental rights and parent-child relationship and that the transfer of parental authority be used only in exceptional circumstances and in the best interest of the child.

Further, the Committee continued to be concerned that there was no legislation explicitly prohibiting corporal punishment within the family and that that practice seemed to be largely accepted in the society. It urged the State party to introduce a provision expressly prohibiting corporal punishment within the family, and to strengthen its efforts in order to raise awareness for parents and care-givers of alternative non-violent forms of discipline. The Committee was also concerned about the number of reported cases of ill-treatment and sexual abuse of children, and recommended that the State party undertake a study on violence, more particularly on sexual abuse and violence.

The Committee was deeply concerned by the very high number of deaths among children resulting from traffic accidents despite the measures taken by the State party. It recommended that the State party strengthen its efforts in order to reduce the number of casualties among children caused by traffic accidents.




AUSTRIA

With regarding to the second periodic report of Austria, the Committee noted with appreciation the adoption of the Parent and Child Amendment Act in 2001; the establishment of the Austrian Federal Youth Representative Council in 2001; the ratification of the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography as well as the ratification of ILO Convention no. 138 concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment in 2000 and of ILO Convention no. 182 concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in 2001.

While noting the positive efforts made by the State party to address racial discrimination, the Committee was concerned at discriminatory attitudes and the manifestations of neo-nazism, racism, xenophobia and related intolerance towards migrant communities and of certain ethnic background and by its impact on children belonging to these groups as well as against refugees and asylum seeking children. The Committee recommended that the State party increase its efforts to ensure implementation of existing laws guaranteeing the principle of non-discrimination and full compliance with article 2 of the Convention.

While noting the efforts made by the State party, the Committee remained concerned about the health problems faced by adolescents, in particular about drug and tobacco use and alcohol abuse and that the regulation of their consumption by children and adolescent fell within the competence of Länders. Furthermore, the Committee was concerned at the suicide fora accessible on the Internet where young people could exchange experiences and suicidal thoughts. It recommended that the State party strengthen its efforts to prevent drug and tobacco use and alcohol abuse and to harmonize the different regulations in the various Länders on this matter.

The Committee was concerned about the increasing number of persons below 18 placed in detention, disproportionately affecting those of foreign origin, and that persons below 18 might not always be separated from adults. It recommended that the State party continue to ensure the full implementation of juvenile justice standards and in particular articles 37, 40 and 39 of the Convention, as well as the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (the Beijing Rules) and the United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (the Riyadh Guidelines).

Concerning the initial report of Austria on the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the involvement of children in armed conflicts, the Committee noted with satisfaction that the Austrian National Defence Act had been amended in 2001 in order to reflect the provisions of the Optional Protocol. It welcomed the State party’s international and bilateral technical cooperation activities and financial assistance aimed at preventing the involvement of children in armed conflicts and assisting recovery of child victims of armed conflicts and the rehabilitation and recovery of child combatants. The Committee recommended that the State party consider the possibility to increase the minimum age for voluntary recruitment to 18 years.

The Committee requested that the State party provide information in its next report on refugee and migrant children within its jurisdiction that might have been involved in hostilities in their home-country and the assistance provided for their physical and psychological recovery and their social reintegration.




BELIZE

Concerning the second periodic report of Belize, the Committee took note of the adoption of several laws aimed at protecting and promoting the rights of the child, inter alia, the adoption of, in 1998, the Families and Children Act and its amendment in 1999, and many other laws and rules on nationality, social security, and trafficking in persons. It welcomed the establishment in 1999 of an independent Ombudsman with investigative powers and the re-emergence of the National Committee for Families and Children to monitor implementation of the Convention. The Committee also welcomed the ratification of a number of international and regional human rights instruments such as the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and the one on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

The Committee was deeply concerned about the practice of early marriages and the low minimum age for marriage (14 years), criminal responsibility (9 years), admission to hazardous work (14 years) and to part-time work (12 years). It recommended that the State party continue and strengthen its efforts to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to an internationally acceptable level; to raise the minimum age for admission to hazardous work to 18 years; to raise the minimum legal age of marriage for both girls and boys and undertake awareness-raising campaigns concerning the many very negative consequences resulting from early marriages.

The Committee was concerned about the limitations in the exercise of the right to freedom of expression by children, and noted with concern the violent incidents during a peaceful student demonstration against a rise in bus fares, which took place in the village of Benque Viejo del Carmen on 24 April 2002, and the reported disproportionate use of force by the police authorities. It recommended that the State party encourage and facilitate children to exercise their right to freedom of expression.

While noting the State party’s efforts to combat the violence and abuse against children, including through the Families and Children Regulations, the Committee remained gravely concerned at the generally violent environment where Belizean children were living and at the increased cases of murders, abductions, violence in the streets, domestic violence and sexual abuse of minors, especially girls. It recommended that the State party take all necessary measures to introduce awareness-raising campaigns, with the involvement of children themselves.

The Committee expressed its grave concern about the situation of children with disabilities and regretted that de facto discrimination against them still existed. It urged the State party to create special legislation dealing exclusively with disability issues. While welcoming the reproductive health policy, the Committee was still concerned at the high rates of teenage pregnancies. It was also concerned at the high incidence of substance abuse among adolescents. The Committee recommended that the State party strengthen its efforts to implement the Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy and to ensure access to reproductive health services for all adolescents.

The Committee expressed its concern at the high rate of illiteracy and regional disparities in that respect. It recommended that the State party allocate adequate financial, technical and human resources in order to urgently take all necessary measures further to reduce illiteracy rates in the country.

THE BAHAMAS

After considering the initial report of the Bahamas, the Committee found positive the adoption of the Status of Children Act in 2002, the Inheritance Act in 2000, Early Childhood Car Act 2004, the ratification of ILO Convention No. 138 concerning the minimum age for admission to employment and ILO Convention No. 182 concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour in 2001

The Committee was concerned that the minimum age for access to employment (14 years) was not in harmony with the age at which compulsory education ended (16 years). The Committee was also concerned at the low minimum legal age of criminal responsibility (10 years). The Committee recommended that the State party raise the minimum age for admission to employment to 16 years in order to harmonize it with the age at which compulsory education ended; and that it raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to an internationally acceptable level.

Further, the Committee was concerned that societal discrimination persisted against vulnerable groups of children, including children living in poverty, Haitian immigrant children, children with disabilities and that the Constitution did not prohibit discrimination on the grounds of disability. It recommended that the State party strengthen the exiting provisions on non-discrimination and ensure guaranteeing the principle of non-discrimination and full compliance with article 2 of the Convention.

Concerned at the high rate of teenage pregnancies and drug abuse among adolescents, the Committee recommended that the State party increase its efforts to establish and promote adequate services on adolescent health, including mental health and reproductive health services. It also recommended that the State party take all necessary measures to prevent drug abuse and provide therapeutic, recovery and reintegrating services for drug abusers. While welcoming the various plans and policies to address HIV/AIDS, the Committee remained concerned at the increasing incidence of HIV/AIDS among adolescents. It recommended that the State party continue its efforts in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The Committee noted with appreciation that the largest part of the national budget was allocated to education and that primary and secondary education was free in public schools for all children in the State party. However, the Committee remained concerned at the dropout rates within the formal public education system, especially among boys. It was further concerned at the lack of human rights education as part of the school curriculum. It recommended that the State party further strengthen efforts to bring dropouts back to school and other training programmes; ensure that standards of education were maintained uniformly in all islands; and include human rights education in the official curriculum, at all levels of education.

While appreciating the progress made by the Bahamas in addressing the issue of child labour, including the adoption of the Employment Act in 2001, the Committee was concerned at the relatively high prevalence of child labour in the State party and the insufficient protection from hazardous forms of work accorded to children between 14 and 18 years. It recommended that the State party establish a definition of hazardous work.

IRAN

With regard to the second periodic report of Iran, the Committee welcomed the provision of free education for all citizens up to secondary school, and the fact that over 90 per cent of children 6-10 years enjoyed access to primary education; the ratification of the Law on the Protection of Children and Adolescents and the related establishment of the Office on the Protection of the Rights of Women and Children in the Judiciary; and the ratification of the ILO Convention No. 182 concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour.

The Committee was deeply concerned at the persisting discrimination against girls and women, in particular in their role as parents, reflected in various legal provisions and practice. It was equally concerned at discrimination on the grounds of religion and birth. It recommended that the State party promptly review all its legislation to ensure that it was non-discriminatory, gender neutral and ensure that it was enforced. Moreover, the State party should take effective measures, including enacting or rescinding civil and criminal legislation to prevent and eliminate discrimination on the grounds of sex, religion and other grounds.

The Committee reiterated its serious concern at article 220 of the Penal Code, which provided that fathers who killed their child, or their son’s child, were only required to pay one-third blood money to the mother, and were subjected to a discretionary punishment, in the event that the mother made a formal complaint. It recommended that the State party take the necessary measures, including the amendment of the offending article of the Penal Code, to ensure that there was no discriminatory treatment for such crimes and that prompt and thorough investigations and prosecutions were carried out. On executions of persons for having committed crimes before the age of 18, the Committee deplored that such executions continued since the Committee’s consideration of the State party’s initial report, including one such execution on the day of the examination of the current report.

The Committee was concerned about the discrimination against children on account of their father’s nationality, in that while a child whose father was an Iranian national was considered to have Iranian nationality, a child whose mother was Iranian and who had married a non-Iranian, without getting the official consent of the Government, would not be recognized as an Iranian national. The Committee was concerned that the situation currently affected a large number of children whose mothers were Iranian and fathers Afghan and who consequently had neither a birth certificate nor nationality. It recommended that all children were registered at birth and acquired an irrevocable nationality without discrimination.

Deeply regretting that under the exiting laws, persons below the age of 18 who had committed a crime could be subjected to corporal punishment and could be sentenced to a variety of types of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment such as amputation, flogging or stoning, which were systematically imposed by judicial authorities, the Committee urged the State party to take all the necessary measures to ensure that persons who committed crimes while they were under 18 years were not subjected to any form of corporal punishment.

TOGO

After considering the second periodic report of Togo, the Committee welcomed the recent ratification of a number of important human rights instruments, such as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography in 2004, the ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour in 2000, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and the ratification in 2004 of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

While noting the efforts made by the State party to address the issue, the Committee noted with concern that societal discrimination persisted against vulnerable groups of children, in particular girls and children with disabilities. It urged the State parted to conduct an in depth revision of all legislation in order to fully guarantee the application of the principle of non-discrimination in domestic laws and compliance with article 2 of the Convention.

The Committee was concerned that mothers could not pass their nationality to their child, and that children born out of wedlock or children with foreign fathers might, in some instances, be denied Togolese citizenship and left stateless. While noting the various efforts made by the State party in that regard, the Committee was concerned by the low rate of registration of birth, due largely to the lack of awareness of the population about the procedure, high fees and long distances to the civil registry service centres. It recommended that the State party reform its citizenship laws, including the 1998 Nationality Code, in order to ensure the transmission of citizenship through both the maternal and paternal line.

The Committee was concerned at the high number of children victims of violence, abuse and neglect, including sexual abuse, in schools, in detention centres, in public places and in the family. It recommended that the State party adopt legislation effectively prohibiting all forms of violence, abuse and neglect.

While acknowledging the improvements in the health care sector, the Committee was particularly concerned at the increasing infant mortality rate, the high levels of child and maternal mortality rate, low birth-weight, child malnutrition, low breastfeeding rate, the prevalence of infectious diseases, mosquito-born diseases and the lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation. The Committee recommended that the State party develop and implement a long-term comprehensive policy with a strong emphasis on early childhood development and community health in which measures would be taken to decrease significantly infant and maternal mortality rates and other deficiencies in health matters.

While noting the measures taken to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS from mothers to children and the creation of the National Committee on HIV/AIDS Prevention, the Committee was concerned about the prevalence of HIV/AIDS and that no education for youth on the disease existed. The Committee recommended that the State party increase its efforts to prevent the disease.

BOLIVIA

With regard to the third periodic report of Bolivia, the Committee welcomed a number of positive developments, including entry into force of the Code for Children and Adolescents, promulgation of the Law on Municipalities, the establishment of the Vice-Ministry for Youth, Children and the Elderly, the ratification of the Hague Convention No. 33 on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, the Convention against Torture, and the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

While welcoming the efforts of the State party to promote and implement the right of children to express her/his views and to actively participate in various levels of society, the Committee was concerned at the persistence of traditional attitudes which, among other things, limited children’s right to participation and to express their views in matters affecting them. The Committee recommended that the State party strengthen its efforts to promote within the family, schools and other institutions respect for the views of children, especially girls, and facilitate their participation in all matters affecting them.

The Committee reiterated its concern abut the situation of children living in prisons with one of their parents and about the living conditions of those children and the regulation of their care if they were separated from their parents in prison. It recommended that the State party develop and implement clear guidelines on the placement of children with their parents in prison, in instances where that was considered to be in the best interest of the child.

Also, the Committee remained deeply concerned at the extent of abuse and violence within the family. It recommended that the State party strengthen current efforts to address that problem of domestic violence and child abuse through public education campaigns about the negative consequences of ill-treatment and preventive programmes.

While welcoming the improvement of primary health care coverage, including the basic health insurance scheme providing free medical care for children between zero and five years of age and their mothers, the Committee, however, was concerned that not all children, especially indigenous people, benefited from the scheme. It was also concerned that the infant mortality rate remained very high, and well above the regional average. The Committee recommended that the State party continue to strengthen its efforts in improving the health situation of all children.

The Committee was concerned about the high number of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections as well as the lack of programmes on sexual and reproductive health; and at the high incidence of alcohol and tobacco abuse. It recommended that the State party pay close attention to adolescent health.

While welcoming the recent reform of the education system and the increase in coverage in both primary and secondary education achieved in the past few years, the Committee was concerned at continuing low enrolment rates, especially among girls and indigenous children; considerable disparities in coverage and quality of education between urban and rural areas; high dropout rates and persistent high illiteracy rates, among rural and indigenous children and girls. It encouraged the State party to provide sufficient funding to ensure free education at all levels of primary and secondary education.

NIGERIA

Concerning the second periodic report of Nigeria, the Committee welcomed the initiatives taken by the State party to reform its laws relating to children to bring them in line with the requirements of the Convention, in particular the adoption of the Child Rights Act in May 2003. It also noted the adoption of the Anti-Human Trafficking Law, the establishment of the Children’s Parliament, and the ratification of the ILO Conventions Nos.138 and 182 concerning the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment and concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, respectively.

In the context of the respect for the inherent right to life of a person under 18, the Committee was seriously concerned about the applicability of the death penalty to persons below 18 under the Sharia law, and emphasized that such a penalty was a violation of articles 6 and 37 (a) of the Convention. The Committee urged Nigeria to abolish by law the imposition of the death penalty for crimes committed by persons under 18 years of age and replace the already issued death sentences for persons under 18 with sanctions in accordance with the Convention.

The Committee was deeply concerned about traditional and discriminatory attitudes and behaviour towards women and children, contributing to violence, abuse, including sexual abuse, neglect, killing, torture and extortion; generally high level of acceptance of domestic violence among law enforcement officials and court personnel; and lack of adequate measures taken by the State party to prevent and combat violence. The State party was urged to strengthen considerably its efforts to prevent and combat violence in society, including violence against women and children.

The Committee welcomed the efforts made by the State party to prevent and control HIV/AIDS including the establishment of the National Action Committee on AIDS. However, it remained concerned about the high incidence of the infection and its wide prevalence in Nigeria, as well as the lack of knowledge especially among women on modes of transmission and prevention of HIV/AIDS. The Committee recommended that the State party continue its efforts in preventing the spread of the disease and providing treatment.


While acknowledging the efforts made by the State party to combat drug abuse, trafficking and drug-related violence, the Committee remained concerned at the high incidence of substance abuse by children in Nigeria. It was also concerned by the reports of the increasing involvement of young people in drug-related crimes. The State party was recommended to undertake a comprehensive study to assess the nature and extent of drug abuse by children, and to take action to combat the phenomenon.

The Committee noted with appreciation the serious and exemplary efforts undertaken by the State party to combat trafficking, including the establishment of bilateral anti-trafficking agreements and the introduction of joint border controls.


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 Hamad Al-Thani (Qatar), Joyce Aluoch (Kenya), Alison Anderson (Jamaica); Saisuree Chutikul (Thailand), Luigi Citarella (Italy), Jacob Egbert Doek (the Netherlands), Kamel Filali (Algeria), Moushira Khattab (Egypt), Hatem Kotrane (Tunisia), Lothar Friedrich Krappmann (Germany), Yanghee Lee (Republic of Korea), Norberto Liwski (Argentina), Rosa Maria Ortiz (Paraguay), Awa N'Deye Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso), Marilia Sardenberg (Brazil), Lucy Smith (Norway); and Nevena Vuckovic-Sahovic (Serbia and Montenegro).

Mr. Doek is the Chairperson. Ms. Aluoch, Ms. Chutikul and Ms. Sardenberg are Vice Chairpersons, and Ms. Khattab is the Rapporteur.