Committee on the Rights of the Child
ROUNDUP 3 October 2008
Issues Conclusions on Reports of Austria, Uganda, Djibouti, Lithuania,
Bhutan, United Kingdom and Tanzania
The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its forty-ninth session, issuing its conclusions and recommendations on the situation of children in Djibouti, Bhutan and the United Kingdom, whose reports on efforts to comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child were considered during the session. The reports of Austria, Uganda, Lithuania and Tanzania on efforts to comply with the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and the reports of Uganda, the United Kingdom and Tanzania, on the involvement of children in armed conflict, were also considered, and concluding observations issued on them.
In closing remarks, Committee Chairperson Yanghee Lee welcomed the fact that the new High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, had opened the Committee's forty-ninth session, which had given them the opportunity to present some of their concerns to her. She also announced that, next year, in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the United Nations General Assembly, the Committee had decided to devote one day to a commemorative anniversary event at its September 2009 session at a date and venue to be decided later. She also noted that she would make a formal request to the General Assembly next month that the Committee be afforded the resources to meet in two chambers, to overcome their backlog in consideration of State party reports.
Also in closing remarks, Committee Rapporteur Lothar Krappman highlighted a number of activities that the Committee had undertaken in private at this session, including a meeting with a group of children from Northern Ireland, who presented their perspective on the lives of disadvantaged and marginalized children; an exchange of information with the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; a meeting with a representative to discuss the overlap between the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and a meeting with the Director of the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers.
In addition to considering State party reports at this session, on Friday, 19 September, the Committee held a Day of General Discussion on the right of the child to education in emergency situations with the participation of representatives of Governments, United Nations bodies and specialized agencies, non governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, individual experts and children. Summing up the discussions, participants had agreed that education was protection for the well-being and security of children in conflict situations, and that the hierarchy with respect to development partners in addressing the right of children to education, which was ranked lower than other priorities, had to be changed. It was also highlighted that education helped children return to a normal state of life, and a child-friendly school was needed to do that. The Committee will formally adopt recommendations of the General Day of Discussion shortly following the close of the session.
The Committee's next session will be held from 12 to 30 January 2009 at the Palais Wilson in Geneva. Scheduled for consideration are the reports of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Republic of Moldova, the Netherlands, and Chad under the Convention. Under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Maldives and the Netherlands will present reports. On the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, the reports of Maldives, Republic of Moldova and Tunisia are scheduled to be examined.
Concluding Observations on Reports Presented Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child
Following its consideration of the second periodic report of Djibouti, the Committee welcomed the adoption of the Outline Act on the education system in August 2000; the Family Code in January 2002; the Law on the Labour Code in January 2006; the law on the protection of persons living with HIV/AIDS, in April 2007; and the law against trafficking in human beings in December 2007. It also welcomed the ratification of a number of international instruments, including the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination; the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions on the elimination of the worst forms of child labour, and on the minimum age for admission to employment, both in 2005; and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in November 2002.
While welcoming efforts to ensure that all children had access to education, the Committee regretted that disparities remained, in particular with regard to children belonging to vulnerable groups, including children living on the streets, migrant children, refugee children and children with disabilities. It was also concerned that the rates of infant mortality remained among the highest in the world and that malnutrition rates not only remained high, but had increased slightly over the past years, and that sanitation coverage remained low in both urban and rural areas. Concerned that children were still subjected to corporal punishment, particularly in the home, the Committee recommended that Djibouti explicitly prohibit by law all forms of violence against children, including corporal punishment, in all settings, including in the family, schools, alternative childcare and places of detention, and that it implement those laws effectively.
The Committee noted that Djiboutian law did not specifically provide for the separation of children from their parents in cases of abuse or neglect. It was further concerned that existing legislation had not been used to deal seriously with child abuse, and that punishment for perpetrators of such acts generally were light. It was recommended that Djibouti take all necessary legislative, policy and other measures to address and prevent abuse and neglect of children and to provide for the care, recovery and reintegration of child victims. Regarding harmful traditional practices, while the Committee welcomed the raising of the minimum age for marriage of girls to 18 through the Family Code, it noted that there were exceptions to that age, including when the marriage was consented to by the child's guardian, and the Committee was additionally concerned that there was no minimum age threshold for such exceptions. Also, while welcoming the prohibition by law of the practice of female genital mutilation, the Committee noted with grave concern that that practice, including infibulations, the most extreme form of female genital mutilation, continued to be widely practiced in the country. It also noted with concern that there had been no prosecutions to enforce the law prohibiting the practice. The Government was urged to ensure that legislation prohibiting harmful traditional practices provided for appropriate sanctions and that perpetrators of such acts were brought to justice. Finally, the Committee reiterated its concern over the high number of children, in particular girls, involved in prostitution and the lack of facilities to provide services for sexually exploited children. Djibouti should, inter alia, take appropriate measures to ensure the prompt investigation of reports of sexual exploitation or abuse and ensure that child victims of sexual exploitation or abuse were not criminalized or penalized.
Having reviewed the second periodic report of Bhutan under the Convention, the Committee noted with appreciation the adoption of several legislative and programmatic measures taken with a view to implementing the Convention, including the adoption of the Constitution on 18 July 2008 and the inclusion of child rights-specific provisions therein; the inclusion of child-related provisions in the Penal Code, and the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code; the adoption of the Labour and Employment Act of 2007, which established 18 years as the minimum age for employment and prohibited the worst forms of child labour; that the minimum age for voluntary enlistment in the armed forces had been raised to 18 years; and the establishment of a Woman and Child Protection Unit within the police in 2007.
Despite Government efforts to improve the situation of vulnerable children, the Committee remained concerned over gender discrimination, the lack of services for children with disabilities, the gap of resources between rural and urban areas and the disparities in the enjoyment of rights experienced by children of Nepalese ethnic origin, particularly in relation to their right to a nationality, education and to health services. Among recommendations were that Bhutan should establish accessible and effective mechanisms and procedures to monitor, receive and address complaints of discrimination (e.g. prompt appeal in circumstances of denial of school enrolment); and that it take all appropriate measures, such as comprehensive public education campaigns, to prevent and combat negative societal attitudes towards different ethnic groups. The Committee was furthermore concerned that there was no central authority for registration of births and that the lack of birth registration certificates might prevent children's access to education, as well as restrictive conditions to acquire Bhutanese citizenship, which could lead to statelessness.
Other concerns of the Committee included that cases of abuse and violence remain underreported and that physical and psychological recovery measures for victims were lacking; the number of malnourished children coupled with the lack of trained health workers and medical practitioners; and a lack of data on the percentage of the population which has access to basic sanitation. On education, the Committee was concerned that informal fees were still charged in schools; that additional costs had not been waived for all parents; and that education has not been made compulsory. It was furthermore concerned that a remarkable number of children were not enrolled, that regional disparities persisted, that repetition and dropout rates were still high and that gender parity still had to be achieved. A particular concern was the reduced access to education for children of Nepalese ethnic origin, and that they were denied education in their own language. Finally, the Committee was concerned over the high incidence of child labour. It recommended that Bhutan undertake a national study to ascertain the root causes and extent of child labour; that it design and conduct campaigns to raise awareness of the negative effects of exploitative child labour; and that it consider membership in the ILO and ratification of its related conventions on the minimum age for admission to employment and on the elimination of the worst forms of child labour, among others.
Among follow-up measures undertaken and progress achieved in the third and fourth periodic report of the United Kingdom, the Committee welcomed, inter alia, the information that the United Kingdom's had decided to withdraw its reservations to articles 22 (on asylum-seeking children) and 37 (c) (on deprivation of liberty) of the Convention; the adoption of the Children's Act 2004, the Childcare Act 2006 and the Children's Plan for England of 2007, which directly referred to the Convention; the creation of the Equality and Human Rights Commission; and the fact that there had been instances where the Convention had been referred to in the United Kingdom's domestic courts. It further welcomed the United Kingdom's announcement that all the necessary legislative and other measures had been taken to initiate the process of ratification of the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and that it had ratified or acceded to a number of relevant international instruments, including the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.
The Committee was concerned that in practice certain groups of children – such as Roma and Irish Travellers' children; migrant, asylum-seeking and refugee children; and lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender children – continued to experience discrimination and social stigmatization. It was also concerned at the general climate of intolerance and negative public attitudes towards children, especially adolescents, which appeared to exist in the United Kingdom, including in the media, and might be often the underlying cause of further infringements of their rights. While welcoming the introduction of statutory child death reviews in England and Wales, the Committee was also very concerned that six more children had died in custody since the last examination, as well as at the high prevalence of self-injurious behaviour among children in custody. The Committee recommended that the United Kingdom use all available resources to protect children's rights to life, including by reviewing the effectiveness of preventive measures. It should also introduce automatic, independent and public reviews of any unexpected death or serious injury involving children, whether in care or in custody. A further concern was the restriction imposed on the freedom of movement and peaceful assembly of children by the anti-social behaviour orders, as well as by the use of the so-called "mosquito devices" and the introduction of the concept of "dispersed zones".
The Committee was concerned at the failure to explicitly prohibit all corporal punishment in the home and that corporal punishment was lawful in the home, schools and alternative care settings in virtually all overseas territories and Crown dependencies. In that connection, it remained alarmed at the still high prevalence of violence, abuse and neglect against children, including in the home, and at the lack of a comprehensive nationwide strategy in that regard. It was recommended, inter alia, that the United Kingdom establish mechanisms for monitoring the number of cases and the extent of violence, sexual abuse, neglect, maltreatment or exploitation, including within the family, in schools and in institutional or other care; and that it ensure that professionals working with children received training on their obligation to report and take appropriate action in suspected cases of domestic violence affecting children. It was further recommended that the United Kingdom fully implement international standards of juvenile justice, and, in particular, that it raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility; develop a broad range of alternative measures to detention for children in conflict with the law; and ensure that children in conflict with the law were always dealt with within the juvenile justice system and never tried as adults in ordinary courts, irrespective of the gravity of the crime they are charged with.
Concluding Observations on Reports Presented Under the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
Following its examination of the initial report of Austria under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, the Committee noted with appreciation the reform of the penal code, which broadened the scope of offences relating to child pornography and strengthened penalties relating to sexual offences; the adoption, in 2004, of the National Plan of Action for the Rights of Children and Adolescents, which provided for measures to prevent offences referred to in the Optional Protocol; and the adoption of the National Action Plan against Human Trafficking, which drew attention to child-specific aspects of human trafficking, as well as the creation of a "Sub-Task Force" on trafficking, in 2007, to identify concrete demand-oriented measures for victims of child trafficking.
While welcoming various initiatives taken by Austria to address trafficking in children, including the National Action Plan against Human Trafficking in 2004, the Committee regretted that the sale and trafficking in children, including for the purpose of sexual exploitation, remained a problem in Austria. It also remained concerned about the absence of a comprehensive plan to address the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography that incorporated all aspects of prevention, recovery and reintegration. And, despite efforts to address sexual offences committed abroad by Austrian citizens, the Committee was concerned that sex tourism by Austrian citizens continued to be a problem. National legislation also did not criminalize all the acts constituting offences against children in full compliance with the definition of offences contained in the Optional Protocol. In particular, the Committee recommended that Austria criminalize the possession of child pornography, including virtual pornography, involving children between 14 and 18 years old without requiring the intent of dissemination and regardless of the minor's consent; that it amend the definition of child pornography to include cartoon representation of children; and that it ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime.
The Committee was also concerned about the lack of support mechanisms for child victims of sale, prostitution and pornography, including for the purpose of sexual exploitation from abroad and that staff at reception facilities for separated asylum-seeking children might not always be aware of traumatic experiences of children under their care. Among recommendations, Austria should create a nationwide policy on coordination, care and support for the child victims of sale and trafficking; ensure that resources were sufficiently allocated in order to strengthen social reintegration and physical and psychosocial recovery measures; ensure that support services with specifically trained staff were systematically made available to child victims of sale and trafficking from abroad, and ensure that the best interests of the child was the primary consideration in the case of a decision to repatriate a child; and should guarantee that all child victims of the offences described in the Protocol had access to adequate procedures to seek, without discrimination, compensation for damages from those legally responsible.
Among positive aspects in the initial report of Uganda under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, the Committee noted with appreciation the Child Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children's Policy and Action Plan of 2004; the Child Labour Unit established within the Department of Labour to address the worst forms of child labour; the establishment of Children and Family Protection Units in police stations; and Uganda's collaboration with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, through the agreement establishing a national country office in Uganda in 2006.
In view of the high incidence of the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography in Uganda, the Committee regretted that there was no national plan of action to combat the violations of the Protocol. It was concerned that training on the Protocol among professionals, for example the police, social workers and immigration officials, was insufficient, and recommended that Uganda, inter alia, promote awareness in the public at large, including children, through information by all appropriate means, education and training, about the preventive measures and harmful effects of the offences referred to in the Protocol. It was further concerned that preventive measures were inadequate and that documentation and research were insufficient on the root causes, nature and extent of the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Finally, the Committee was concerned over reports indicating the sale of children for sacrifices and the ritual killings.
The Committee recommended that Uganda allocate specific budget resources for preventive measures and that these be carried out in collaboration with the United Nations Children's Fund, the International Labour Organization/International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour and civil society organizations. Uganda should identify the regions most affected by violations under the Protocol and design specific prevention measures in that regard, including collaboration and bilateral agreements with neighbouring States. Furthermore, the Committee recommended that the Government comply with the recommendation of the Uganda Human Rights Commission to hold a public inquiry to investigate reports indicating the sale of children for sacrifices and ritual killings, and that a targeted media campaign be implemented to condemn such practices. Concerned that child victims of sexual exploitation might be criminalized and that children who had been victims of offences under the Protocol were stigmatised and re-victimised by being treated as offenders, the Committee recommended that Uganda take all necessary measures, including prompt legal reform, to ensure that child victims of crimes under the Protocol were not criminalized and that they were protected at all stages of the criminal justice process. Furthermore, Uganda should allocate adequate financial and human resources to the competent authorities in order to improve the legal representation for child victims and should presume young victims of sexual exploitation to be children, and not adults, if in doubt.
Having considering the initial report of Lithuania under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, the Committee noted with appreciation active measures taken in the field of prevention and prosecution of child trafficking and child prostitution, including the adoption and implementation of the Programme for the Prevention and Control of Trafficking in Human Beings (2005-2008); and the adoption of measures to protect victims of sexual abuse or prostitution, including the National Programme for Prevention of Violence against Children and Assistance for 2005-2007 and 2008-2010. It further noted with appreciation Lithuania's signature or ratification of a number of related international instruments, including the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, in April 1998 and the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings in 2008.
The Committee noted with concern the discrepancies in the level and quality of services available for child victims of offences covered by the Optional Protocol depending on the availability of human and financial resources of the municipal government concerned. It was also concerned about the impact of the approval by Parliament of the State Family Policy Concept, which defined the family narrowly, and that the availability of appropriate adolescent reproductive health information and services might be severely restricted, having adverse consequences on those children affected by the Protocol.
The Committee was deeply concerned at the information in the report that "Children under 18 years of age, in particular adolescent girls living in special boarding schools, special child-education and care homes, governmental and non-governmental childcare homes, or social at-risk families, very often become victims of trafficking in human beings, prostitution and pornography". It was further concerned that targeted preventive measures, awareness-raising programmes, and measures to identify the causes and extent of the problem remained limited, particularly with regard to children living in poverty and children living in institutional care. Among recommendations were that Lithuania undertake research on the effects of the previous actions taken and on the nature and extent of exploitation of children, including prostitution and pornography, in order to identify children at risk and to address the root causes of the problem. Then, on the basis of that study, Lithuania should adopt a more comprehensive and targeted approach to address the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, by incorporating prevention, recovery and reintegration measures, with particular focus on vulnerable groups of children. Concerned that child victims of crimes covered by the Optional Protocol might be held responsible, including child victims of prostitution over the age of 16 who might face administrative fines, the Committee urged Lithuania to take all possible measures to avoid stigmatization and social marginalization of such child victims, and that it make the necessary legislative amendments to ensure that those children were neither criminalized nor penalized.
Among positive aspects in the initial report of Tanzania under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, the Committee welcomed the adoption of the Employment and Labour Relations Act, 2004; the Employment Act, 2005 of Zanzibar; the Anti Trafficking in Persons Act, 2008; the Plan of Action for the Prevention of Violence against Women and Children (2001-2015); the National Strategy for the Elimination of Child Labour (2005-2010); and the establishment of the Tanzania Police Female Network on violence against women and children. It also commended Tanzania's accession to or ratification of a number of international instruments, including ILO Convention No. 182 concerning the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in 2001; and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in 2003.
The Committee was seriously concerned at the lack of statistical data on the nature and extent of the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and had concerns about the lack of specific plans of action with timetables for implementation of the Protocol, in view of the reported high incidence of sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography in Tanzania. Another concern was that preventive measures were inadequate and were weakened by the lack of research and data collection on the root causes, nature and extent of sale of children, child prostitution, child pornography and child sex tourism. The Committee was deeply concerned over reports of sale of children for ritual purposes, including ritual killings of albino children. It recommended that Djibouti strengthen its preventive measures, including allocation of human and financial resources for research at regional and local levels aimed at addressing the root causes that contributed to the vulnerability of children to sale, prostitution, pornography and sex tourism. It also urged Djibouti to undertake investigations of the reports indicating the sale of children for ritual purposes and that it bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice.
Other concerns included the information that orphans and children from single-parent families were particularly vulnerable to becoming victims of child prostitution, and the lack of specific awareness among the public about the offences under the Protocol and their harmful effects. The Government should promote awareness in the public at large, including children, through information and education about the preventive measures and harmful effects of the offences referred to in the Protocol and should ensure participation of the community and, in particular, children and child victims, in such programmes. The Committee was also concerned that the current Penal Code (Tanzania Mainland) and Penal Act (Zanzibar) did not contain comprehensive definitions of the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography in order to prosecute offenders. Moreover, perpetrators of offences under the Protocol, particularly child prostitution, might not be adequately penalized under existing laws. Noting with concern the scarce availability of social reintegration and physical and psychosocial recovery measures for child victims, it was recommended, inter alia, that Tanzania ensure that adequate resources were earmarked for services to assist all child victims, including for their full social reintegration and their full physical and psychosocial recovery; and that the State party take measures to ensure appropriate training, in particular legal and psychological training, for the persons who worked with victims of the offences prohibited under the Protocol.
Concluding Observations on Reports Presented Under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict
Following its review of the initial report of Uganda under the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, the Committee noted as positive Uganda's adoption of the Uganda People's Defence Forces Act of 2005, which establishes that no person shall be enrolled into the Defence Forces unless he or she is at least 18 years of age; the creation of a Human Rights Desk within the Ugandan military; the adoption of the National Orphans and Vulnerable Children Policy; the engagement with the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict; and support for the creation of a Ugandan Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting, mandated to collect information on the recruitment and use of child soldiers as well as other violations and abuses committed against children in armed conflicts and to support and supplement protection and rehabilitation of those children. The Committee further commended Uganda's ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on 14 June 2002 and its referral of crimes by the Lord's Resistance Army in relation to child recruitment to the Court in 2003.
Despite efforts to eliminate the recruitment of those under 18 years, the Committee was concerned over reports indicating the continued presence of children in the armed forces. It noted the challenges presented by the very low rates of birth registration – less than 10 per cent – and of reports indicating the falsification of documentation by village Local Councils, which in turn resulted in the likelihood that children were present among the voluntary recruits. The Committee underlined, as a key preventative measure, the importance that Uganda significantly strengthen its efforts to provide birth registration for all children in the country. It also urged the Government to adopt the action plan to prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers and to support their reintegration and to conclude an agreement with the Ugandan Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting in order to ensure regular age verification visits at facilities of the Uganda People's Defence Forces, with the aim to present evidence on the progress made towards the elimination of child recruitment in the follow-up to the Report of the Secretary General to the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict.
The Committee was furthermore concerned over reports that children previously used by the Lord's Resistance Army and Local Defence Units were recruited by the Army, and that some were forced to take part in military operations. The Government was urged to undertake appropriate disciplinary action against those military officers and officials who knowingly had recruited children for the Defence Forces. The Committee noted Uganda's declaration that the Lord's Resistance Army had lost its operational base in the country, but was gravely concerned over continued abductions and forced recruitment of children living in border regions by the Lord's Resistance Army to be used as child soldiers, sex slaves, spies and to carry goods and weapons. Uganda was urged to take all necessary measures to protect every child from abduction and forced recruitment, to seek the release of children from the Lord's Resistance Army and to ensure accountability for perpetrators of the recruitment of child soldiers.
Among positive aspects in the initial report of the United Kingdom under the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, the Committee welcomed the fact that compulsory recruitment into the British Armed Forces was abolished in 1963. It was also welcome that the United Kingdom was an active member of the UN Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, and provided strong support to the work of international criminal tribunals trying the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, including those against children. The Committee further welcomed the United Kingdom's ratification of the International Labour Organization Convention concerning the elimination of the worst forms of child labour, in March 2000, and of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in October 2001.
The Committee was concerned at the wide scope of the United Kingdom's interpretative declaration on article 1 of the Protocol, according to which deployment of persons under 18 to take direct part in hostilities would not be excluded when, inter alia, the exclusion of children before deployment was not practicable or would undermine the operational effectiveness of the operation. Noting the position that, "in order to compete in an increasingly competitive employment market, the British Armed Forces need to attract young people aged 16 and above into pursuing a career in the armed forces", the Committee was concerned that figures given by the United Kingdom showed that recruits under the age of 18 represented approximately 32 per cent of the total intake of Regular Armed Forces; that the active recruitment policy might lead to the possibility of targeting those children who come from vulnerable groups; and that parents or guardians were only involved at the final stage of the recruitment process to give their consent. It was recommended that the United Kingdom reconsider its active policy of recruitment of children and ensure that it did not occur in a manner that specifically targeted ethnic minorities and children of low income families; and that it ensure that parents were included from the outset and during the entire process of recruitment and enlistment.
The Committee was further concerned that, while individual local authorities had support services in place to assist migrant children entering the country, there were no specific measures adopted to assist children recruited or used in hostilities abroad. The Committee recommended, inter alia, that the United Kingdom strengthen measures to identify and systematically collect data on refugee, asylum-seeking and migrant children within its jurisdiction who might have been recruited or used in hostilities; and ensure that those children received appropriate care and treatment, including for their physical and psychological recovery and their social reintegration. Finally, the Committee noted that the United Kingdom had military presences in Iraq and Afghanistan and that there were cases in which children involved in the conflict might be detained by the United Kingdom military authorities. In that respect, the United Kingdom should, inter alia, ensure that children were only detained as a measure of last resort and in adequate conditions in accordance with their age and vulnerability; and guarantee a periodic and impartial review of their detention and conduct such reviews at greater frequency for children than adults; and inform parents or close relatives of the detention of the child and his or her whereabouts.
Having considered the initial report of Tanzania under the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, the Committee welcomed the information that children below 18 could not participate in hostilities, that the Tanzania People's Defence Force was manned solely by volunteers, and that there was no conscription. It also welcomed Tanzania's ratification of a number of international instruments, including ILO Convention No. 182 concerning the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in 2001; the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in 2003; the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in 2002; and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and their Destruction, in 2000.
The Committee was concerned that Tanzania had not specifically domesticated this Optional Protocol, and regretted that the existing coordination mechanisms were inadequate, understaffed and with weak linkages with local authorities. The Committee was further concerned at the lack of data on the phenomenon of ex-child soldiers seeking asylum in Tanzania, especially in the northwestern part of the country. It recommended that a comprehensive data collection system be established in order to ensure that data, disaggregated by age, sex, socio-economic background and geographical area, including asylum-seeking and migrant children, was systematically collected and analysed.
Concerned that in exceptional circumstances the law allowed for the recruitment of persons under the age of 18 years, the Committee was also concerned that the gaps in the birth registration system might allow the recruitment of persons under 18 years. Tanzania was asked to consider reviewing its legislation in order to absolutely ensure that no person under 18 years could be recruited and was encouraged to enhance its birth registration system. Other concerns were the lack of specific legislation prohibiting the involvement of children in hostilities and that, despite a high number of asylum-seeking and migrant children, including a number of former child soldiers coming from areas affected by armed conflicts, no specific action was undertaken to identify those children with the view to providing them with specific assistance. Among others, the Committee recommended that Tanzania assess the situation of children entering the country who might have been recruited or used in hostilities abroad, and provide them with culturally sensitive and multidisciplinary assistance for their physical and psychological recovery and their social reintegration.
The Committee is made up of 18 Experts of high moral standing and recognized competence in the field of children's rights. The following members, nominated by the States parties to serve in their personal capacity, have been elected or re-elected to the Committee: Agnes Akosua Aidoo (Ghana); Alya Ahmed Bin Saif Al-Thani (Qatar); Joyce Aluoch (Kenya); Luigi Citarella (Italy); Kamel Filali (Algeria); Maria Herczog (Hungary); Moushira Khattab (Egypt); Hatem Kotrane (Tunisia); Lothar Friedrich Krappmann (Germany); Yanghee Lee (Republic of Korea); Rosa María Ortiz (Paraguay); David Brent Parfitt (Canada); Awich Pollar (Uganda); Dainius Puras (Lithuania); Kamal Siddiqui (Bangladesh); Lucy Smith (Norway); Nevena Vuckovic-Sahovic (Serbia); Jean Zermatten (Switzerland).
Ms. Lee is the Chairperson of the Committee; Mr. Filali, Ms. Ortiz, Ms. Aidoo and Mr. Zermatten are Vice-Chairpersons; and Mr. Krappmann is the Rapporteur.
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