Committee on the Rights of the Child Discusses the Impact of Digital Media and Reviews Croatia, Fiji, Hungary, Morocco, Singapore, and Venezuela during its 67th Session

Ratification CRC
Ratification Status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
Credit: OHCHR

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) held its 67th Session from September 1 to 19 in Geneva, Switzerland. The CRC reviewed the State reports of Croatia, Fiji, Hungary, Morocco, Singapore, and Venezuela concerning their implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its protocols on the sale and prostitution of children and the involvement of children in armed conflict. The treaty body also held a day of general discussion on digital media and children’s rights. The topics addressed by the Committee during this session are reviewed below; additional information, including the Committee’s agenda and all reports submitted for consideration by the Committee, can be found on the session webpage.

On September 24, the CRC will convene an online conversation with children from 14 countries, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. [OHCHR]

State Reports

During its 67th session, the CRC reviewed State reports for five countries under the Convention: Croatia, Fiji, Hungary, Morocco, and Venezuela. Under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, the Committee reviewed State reports for Hungary and Venezuela. [OCHR] Additionally, the Committee evaluated Hungary, Morocco, Singapore and Venezuela under the Optional Protocol on the involvement of child in armed conflict.

Pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention, States parties submit reports on their implementation of the treaty two years after ratification, and every five years thereafter. After receiving the State’s report, the CRC holds a private meeting of the pre-session working group. The working group provides a forum in which organizations and other agencies involved with children’s rights analyze the child rights situation in the country. See OHCHR, Fact Sheet No. 10 (Rev. 10), The Rights of the Child. The pre-session working group generates a “list of issues” that are presented as questions to the government of the State under review. See id. The Committee asks the government to respond in writing to the questions raised in the list of issues in advance of the interactive dialogue (also referred to as a “constructive dialogue”), during which the Committee publicly examines and discusses the report with government representatives. Following this dialogue, the Committee drafts concluding observations, in which it identifies progress and areas in need of improvement. Id.

Issues Raised by the Committee

With regard to each State, the Committee’s list of issues identified specific topics regarding which it was most interested in receiving information or an update from the government.

The CRC asked Croatia to provide information on the shares of the State Party’s GDP allocated to education, health, and social protection. Croatia was also requested to describe the impact of the European Court of Human Rights’ judgment in the case of X v. the Republic of Croatia, no. 11223/04, Judgment of 17 July 2008 (concerning the parental rights of a mentally ill woman). Additionally, Croatia was asked to provide information regarding legislative and social responses to family violence, the number of illegal child marriages in Roma communities, the consumption of alcohol among teenage child, education for tolerance in school curricula, the trafficking of young women for sexual purposes, and the deportation of asylum seeking children.

The CRC asked Morocco to provide information regarding measures taken by the National Human Rights Council to monitor and assess the implementation of the Convention, any mechanisms to trace funds allocated for the Convention, the repeal of provisions of the Family Code that are discriminatory against girls, and steps taken to prevent abuse in child marriages. The CRC requested that Morocco provide information on improving the lives of children with disabilities, improving access to education for girls, investigations into trafficking of children, and protecting street children.

The CRC asked Hungary to clarify how the Convention has been implemented into domestic law. Additionally, Hungary was to provide information on children within the foster care system, institutionalized children, and the support available for children with disabilities in order to prevent them from being institutionalized. The Committee also asked the government to provide information on measures taken to reduce mental health problems in adolescents and integrating Roma children into schools.

Fiji was asked to provide information on its implementation of the Committee’s previous recommendations and whether the State intended to formulate a comprehensive policy and strategy regarding the rights of children. Additionally, the Committee asked whether the State had assessed the root causes of high rates of adolescent pregnancy and measures taken to ensure education was free and accessible to all children. The Committee also solicited clarification on how the Juvenile Act promoted restorative justice and alternatives to justice, while providing children with free legal assistance.

With regard to Singapore, the Committee only reviewed its implementation of the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict. In its list of issues, the CRC asked the State to explain how it would ensure that children could only enlist in the Armed Forces upon reaching the proper age or with parental consent. The Committee also requested information on relevant training, complaints, and public education programs; the criminalization of recruiting children; and measures to identify child refugees and migrants at risk of recruitment or use in armed conflicts outside Singapore. Finally, the CRC asked Singapore to clarify its legislation concerning the trade and export of arms to countries where children are or may be used in armed conflict.

The CRC asked Venezuela to provide information on the organization and activities of the National System for the Comprehensive Protection of Children and Adolescents and the adoption and details of the National Plan of Action for Children and Adolescents. Venezuela was asked to elaborate on whether the State has considered raising the age of marriage, and to provide information on preventing the killings of children between 12 and 17, efforts to prevent teenage pregnancy, and measures taken to ensure the quality of education for all children. The Committee also requested that the government elaborate on efforts to improve the living conditions of adolescents deprived of their liberty and efforts to guarantee the rights of child asylum seekers and refugees.

Submissions by NGOs and NHRIs

The Committee strongly encourages NGOs and NHRIs to submit reports, documentation, or other information in order to provide a greater understanding and share their expertise as to how the Convention is being implemented in a particular country. The Committee will issue a written invitation to selected NGOs to participate in the pre-session working group. See CRC, Working Methods. In advance of the 67th Session, the Committee received thirty reports from civil society organizations and NHRIs in response to the State reports and the lists of issues.

Day of General Discussion

At its 62nd session, the CRC decided to hold a Day of General Discussion every two years. During the 67th Session, a day of general discussion was held on “Digital media and children’s rights,” at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on September 12. The overall objective of the Day of General Discussion was to increase understanding of the effects of children’s engagement with social media, as well as information and communications technology, in order to better address the impacts on children and their rights. Additionally, the general discussion day sought to identify rights-based strategies to open up online opportunities to children, while protecting them from risks of harm. The Committee will issue a report on children’s rights and digital media at its January 2015 session.

About the Committee

The CRC is a body of 18 independent experts who monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC) and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (OPSC), by States parties. On December 19, 2011, the UN General Assembly approved a third Optional Protocol on communications procedure that allows individuals to submit complaints regarding specific violations of rights protected by the Convention and the two optional protocols. The complaints procedure entered into force in April 2014.

For additional information on the Committee on the Rights of the Child and other UN human rights treaty bodies, visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub.