The Committee on the Rights of the Child concluded today its thirty-third session and issued its conclusions and recommendations on the situation of children in Eritrea, Cyprus, Zambia, Sri Lanka, the Solomon Islands, Libya, Jamaica, Morocco, Syria and Kazakhstan 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 panel's 18 independent experts.
Responding to the report of Eritrea, the Committee noted with appreciation the State party's successful efforts following its independence in 1993, notably in reducing child mortality by over fifty percent. The Committee also recognised that the continuing effects of past armed conflicts as well as the current drought, poverty and programmes for structural adjustment presented difficulties with respect to the full implementation of the Convention. Among other things, the Committee recommended that Eritrea pursue efforts to establish an independent and effective mechanism, provided with adequate human and financial resources and easily accessible to children that monitored the implementation of the Convention.
After considering the report of Cyprus, the Committee was encouraged by improved health indicators, including in particular the infant mortality rate and the under-five mortality rate. However, it remained a matter of concern to the Committee that no information on children living in the occupied territories could be provided. The Committee recommended, among other things, that the State party continue and strengthen its efforts to provide adequate and systematic training and sensitisation on children's rights of professional groups working with and for children.
In response to the report of Zambia, the Committee welcomed the adoption of a National Child Policy and a National Plan of Action, as well as the National HIV/AIDS policy. However, it remained concerned that domestic legislation still did not full reflect the principles and provisions of the Convention, and that, in particular, various customary laws were in opposition to the Convention in many respects. The Committee recommended that, among other things, the State party take all appropriate measures to ensure that the best interests of the child were appropriately integrated in all legislation, as well as in judicial and administrative decisions and in projects, programmes and services having an impact on children.
The Committee welcomed the report of Sri Lanka, and was greatly encouraged by the ongoing peace process and the inclusion of human rights issues, including the human rights of children, in the peace talks. The Committee recognised that the armed conflict and the challenges of reconstruction, particularly in the north and east, posed difficulties to the full implementation of the Convention in Sri Lanka. Among other things, the Committee recommended that the State party prioritise the provision of services to children in loan and structural adjustment negotiations with several donors.
In response to the report of the Solomon Islands, the Committee noted with appreciation the State party's efforts to implement the Convention, especially with regard to progress made in reducing infant mortality and the improvement of immunisation, the establishment of the National Advisory Committee on Children, and the increase in access to primary education. The Committee was concerned that the State party did not have a National Plan of Action for the Convention's implementation, and that it did not have a clear and comprehensive child rights policy. The Committee recommended that, among other things, the State party strengthen and expand current efforts to address the problem of child abuse and ensure that there was an effective system for receiving, monitoring and investigating complaints, and when necessary prosecuting cases in a child-sensitive manner.
After reviewing the situation in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, the Committee welcomed Libya's generous assistance in humanitarian matters, including in collaboration with United Nations agencies, and recognised that limitations upon the State party's external commerce over part of the reporting period had contributed adversely to the resources available to it to implement fully its obligations under the Convention. The Committee was concerned that many measures taken to improve the status and lives of children reflected a predominantly welfare- rather than rights-based approach. Among other things, the Committee recommended that the State party take effective measures, including enacting or rescinding legislation where necessary, to ensure that all children enjoy the rights set out in the Convention without discrimination.
Among positive aspects to the report of Jamaica were the progress made by the State party in several areas, including the establishment of the child support unit, the participation in frameworks of international cooperation concerning the implementation of the Convention, and the accomplishments within the area of health, such as the National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS. The Committee also noted that difficult socio-economic conditions and the high level of external debt placed limitations on the State party's financial and human resources, and that the incidence of hurricanes and other natural disasters added further difficulties to the already severe economic situation. The Committee recommended, among other things, that the State party urgently take all necessary measures to expedite the adoption of the draft Child Care and Protection Act, ensuring that it was in compliance with the provisions of the Convention.
Having reviewed the report of Morocco, the Committee noted the positive developments in the State party in the area of human rights, notably the ratification of the two Optional Protocols to the Convention, and other positive developments. The Committee acknowledged that poverty, the high rate of unemployment as well as the climatic conditions had a negative impact on the human and financial resources for the implementation of the Convention, and had increased the financial burden on households for both health and education. Along with other recommendations, the Committee urged the State party to reconsider its reservation to article 14 with a view to withdrawing it.
After studying the report of Syria, the Committee applauded the establishment of new institutions relating to children's issues, the improvement in many areas of health and education and that the Convention was taken into account in national legislation. It regretted that no review had been undertaken with respect to the reservations expressed by the State party to the Convention, and hoped that after study this would be withdrawn. Among other things, the Committee recommended that the State party ensure the economic, social and cultural rights of all children, to the maximum extent of available resources, and systematically assess the impact of budgetary allocations on the implementation of child rights.
And in response to the report of Kazakhstan, the Committee welcomed the adoption of the new Constitution, which gave legal recognition to human rights and freedoms. While welcoming the many legislative measures taken since independence, the Committee was concerned that their implementation was lacking or insufficient, and was limited due to limited resourcing. It recommended, among other things, that the State party continue and strengthen its efforts to bring national laws into full compliance with the principles and provisions of the Convention.
In addition, the Committee adopted today a general comment on adolescent health. The comment, the Committee's fourth on various issues relevant to the Convention, states that it is intended to identify the main human rights that needed to be promoted and protected by States parties in order to ensure that adolescents enjoyed the highest attainable standard of health, reached harmonious development, were adequately prepared to enter adulthood, and assumed a constructive role in their community and society at large.
This was the first meeting of the Committee with the expanded membership of 18 instead of 10 independent Experts. The Committee's next session will be held from 15 September to 3 October 2003. Scheduled for consideration are reports of San Marino, Canada, New Zealand, Pakistan, Madagascar, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, Bangladesh, and Georgia.
[Source: OHCHR. For the full press release, visit: http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/5052354058E9DBC1C1256D3D0056D034?opendocument]
Posted on 2003-07-02