GLOBAL INITIATIVE NEWSLETTER 19
Welcome to the first newsletter of 2012. We’re delighted to begin the year with the announcement of another African state prohibiting corporal punishment in all settings including the home – and news of bills on their way through parliaments elsewhere. Other highlights include the adoption of a complaints mechanism for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, significant new conclusions by the European Committee of Social Rights and other treaty bodies and the publication of our latest global progress report.
Read more about the Global Initiative at their website.
1. Global progress – Republic of Congo prohibits all corporal punishment; positive moves in Brazil, Mali, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines and the US; not so good news from Ghana, India, Malaysia and UK; other developments in Colombia, India, Pakistan, Republic of Korea and Venezuela
2. Campaigns and calls for prohibition – news from Bangladesh, Ghana, India, Ireland, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Uganda and US; West Africa workshop on law reform; Central America follow up to the UN Study; World Day of Prayer and Action for Children
3. Human rights monitoring – new complaints mechanism for the Convention on the Rights of the Child; review of the UPR; recommendations from the Committee Against Torture, the Human Rights Committee and the European Committee of Social Rights; the work of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child; information on briefing the treaty bodies
4. Research and reports – New international study on judicial corporal punishment; news of research and reports from Australia, Czech Republic, Equatorial Guinea, India, Pakistan, UK and US
5. Media watch – A selection of news from Bangladesh, China, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan, UK, US
6. Can you help? – Helping the Global Initiative’s work – promoting positive, non-violent discipline; research on corporal punishment; other ways to help
*NEW: GLOBAL PROGRESS REPORT 2011*
The new global progress report for 2011, published jointly by the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children and Save the Children Sweden, was released in December. The report charts the progress and the delay in prohibiting corporal punishment of children worldwide, with graphic analyses covering the five years since the UN Study on Violence against Children recommended prohibition as a matter of priority. It describes the work of the Global Initiative, active campaigns for prohibition at regional and national levels, and the involvement of faith groups in the issue. It includes a state by state analysis of the legality of corporal punishment in the home, schools, penal systems and alternative care settings. The report is available online; for hard copies email email@example.com.
1 GLOBAL PROGRESS
Prohibition of all corporal punishment
Republic of Congo: Article 28 of the Law on the Protection of the Child (2010) states that children have a right to be guided by their parents. Article 53 states that corporal punishment may not be used to discipline or correct a child (“Il est interdit de recourir aux châtiments corporels pour discipliner ou corriger l’enfant.”) This explicitly prohibits all corporal punishment of children in all settings, including the home. Article 107 states that persons who inflict cruel inhuman or degrading punishment on children are liable to the penalties in the penal code. Article 130 states that international conventions ratified by the Republic of Congo on the rights of the child are an integral part of this law; article 131 repeals all previous laws in conflict with the new law. This brings the total number of states worldwide to have achieved prohibition in all settings to 32 (five in Africa). Detailed information will shortly be available at www.endcorporalpunishment.org.
Other positive moves towards law reform
Brazil: In December, Brazil’s Lower House approved a bill to prohibit all physical and other humiliating punishment of children. The bill will hopefully soon be passed by the Senate.
Mali: In December, Mali adopted a new Family Code which removes the legal defence for the use of corporal punishment. However, this is a silent repeal and further reform is necessary to explicitly prohibit all corporal punishment.
Pakistan: A Bill which would explicitly prohibit corporal punishment in education and care institutions is under discussion in Balochistan.
Paraguay: Legislation has been drafted with a view to prohibiting corporal punishment in all settings, including the home. The draft is currently being reviewed and a national working group is developing a plan of action aiming to ensure the law is passed in 2012.
Philippines: A Bill which aims to prohibit all corporal punishment was passed by the House of Representatives and is now pending in the Senate. Campaigning organisations have concerns about the detail of the Bill and are hoping for revisions; the Global Initiative has submitted comments.
US, Mississippi: Senate Bill 2180, entitled “An Act to amend section 97-5-39, Mississippi Code of 1972, to revise the offense of felonious abuse or battery of a child; and for related purposes”, sponsored by Senator Brice Williams, would make it a felony to “whip, strike or otherwise abuse any child” thereby causing “bodily harm” to the child. However, “reasonable discipline” would be an exception to this offence and further reform would be necessary in order to properly prohibit all corporal punishment. (LifeSiteNews.com, 25 January 2012)
Ghana: Former MP for Sunyani West, Mr Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, has called for the re-introduction of corporal punishment in basic schools. (Ghana News Agency, 21 December 2011)
India: It is thought unlikely that proposed legislation to update juvenile justice law in Jammu and Kashmir will be passed soon as the bill has been awaiting clearance from the Finance Department for many months. It had been hoped that the bill would be tabled in the upcoming Assembly session. (Greater Kashmir, 28 January 2012)
Malaysia: Sibu MP and Bukit Assek assemblyman Richard Wong Ho Leng said that corporal punishment is not always appropriate but said that he was not against caning and called only for schools to follow the Education Department regulations on administering corporal punishment. (BorneoPostonline, 21 January 2012)
UK: Labour MP David Lammy said that parents should be allowed to smack their children, that politicians should spend less time telling parents what to do and that the law should revert to how it was before the reform in 2004. (BBC News, 24 January 2012) (Smacking a child is lawful in the UK: since 2004 the “reasonable punishment” defence is applicable in charges of common assault whereas previously the “reasonable chastisement” defence was available also in more serious cases.)
Colombia: The interim mayor of Bogota has sanctioned an anti-corporal punishment initiative in an effort to protect children from corporal punishment; an annual campaign is to promote non-violent ways of educating children, implemented by the Ministry of Health. (Colombia Reports, 29 December 2011)
India: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), following a visit to Meghalaya to investigate the problem of child labour, issued directives to the state to address the problem and to ensure that corporal punishment is not practised in the schools. (sify news, 1 November 2011)
The Orissa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (OSCPCR) is to take action to ensure the prohibition of corporal punishment in schools is implemented following the case of 14 year old Harapriya Kanhar who was hospitalised after allegedly being forced to do 200 sit-ups by her teacher. The Committee for Legal Aid to the Poor (CLAP) submitted a memorandum to the Commission calling for directions to schools as to the definition of corporal punishment and declaring them to be corporal punishment-free zones. (IBNLive, 7 November 2011)
Pakistan: The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), in collaboration with the Education Department in Lahore, held a consultation on “Development of school based complaint mechanisms for corporal punishment”. The consultation was attended by government educational institute heads, representatives of Children Complaints Office, the Punjab Education Foundation and civil society organisations. Iftikahr Mubarik of SPARC stated that the effort to ban corporal punishment in schools was appreciated but it falls short of law reform which can be enforced through the justice system. (The Nation, 9 November 2011)
The Punjab Education Foundation has established institutional mechanisms in its partner schools to stop the use of corporal punishment. The initiative includes school committees and a complaints system which aims to deal with complaints immediately. (The International News, 28 December 2011)
The FATA Civil Secretariat has issued a notification stating that corporal punishment should not be used in any of its schools and other education institutions, including formal and non-formal, public and private settings. Measures are to be developed for monitoring and redress. (DAWN.com, 23 December 2011)
Republic of Korea: The Seoul Metropolitan Government proclaimed an ordinance to protect the human rights of students. The ordinance, which had been the subject of controversy, prohibits corporal punishment in schools and follows the earlier proclamation of similar ordinances in Gyeonggi Province and Gwangiu Metropolitan City. It has been published in the official gazette and is now in force in the city’s kindergartens and elementary, middle and high schools. However, the ordinance has met with opposition: the education ministry has filed litigation with the Supreme Court to nullify it and a petition to request that it be suspended until the court makes its decision. (Yonhap News Agency, 26 January 2012)
Venezuela: Ombudsperson Gabriela Ramirez has announced that effectively implementing the law prohibiting corporal punishment is a priority for 2012. (Notice from Save the Children, 17 January 2012) (Venezuela achieved prohibition in all settings in 2007.)
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2 CAMPAIGNS AND CALLS FOR PROHIBITION
Bangladesh: Children from state-run schools in Balochistan performed a play at the Quetta Press Club to mark Prevention of Child Abuse Day in November. The play was organised by the NGO SEHER: children took the parts of political leaders and key government figures and reported on a number of forms of violence against them, including corporal punishment. (The Express Tribune, 19 November 2011)
Ghana: In December, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) published its 2005-2011 report on the state of human rights in Ghana. In presenting the report in Accra, Commissioner Ms Laureta Vivian Lamptey called on the Government to repeal the law on corporal punishment from the statute books. (Ghana News Agency, 9 December 2011). The Commission has also called on the Ghana Education Service to ensure compliance with its policy on corporal punishment in schools, until caning is discontinued altogether. (ModernGhana.com, 23 December 2011)
India: As part of Plan International’s “Learn Without Fear” campaign, Plan India supported by another NGO Nidan held a state level consultation in Bihar, attended by, among others, the chairperson of Bihar State Child Labour Commission and the chairperson of Bihar State Child Rights Protection Commission. Members of Samastipur Children’s Club staged a street play depicting corporal punishment in schools. (The Telegraph, 17 November 2011)
Ireland: Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald is considering bringing in legislation to prohibit all corporal punishment of children. (katekatharina.com, 29 December 2011) (Ireland has a longstanding commitment to prohibiting all corporal punishment but has given no indication of timing.)
Pakistan: The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) is promoting the repeal of section 89 of the Penal Code (1860) which allows corporal punishment in disciplining children below the age of 12. SPARC Assistant Manager Gulnaz Zahid said that this legislation had led to gaps in newer laws on the issue and that in order to bridge these gaps SPARC was pushing an anti-corporal punishment bill in Sindh. (Pakistan Today, 2 January 2012)
At a forum organised by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) – “Tackling Corporal Punishment” – held in December, national manager of the Legal Advisory Unit Rashid Aziz drew attention to section 89 of the Penal Code which provides a legal defence for the use of corporal punishment by caregivers and to section 35 of the Punjab Destitute and Neglected Children Act which exempts parents from legal liability for inflicting corporal punishment. Proposed amendments to the Penal Code would punish corporal punishment whoever the perpetrator. (The Express Tribune, 21 December 2011)
Philippines: The Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) is showing a free play about positive discipline. The play, “Rated PG”, was created to promote a culture of respect for the dignity of children and uphold their right to protection from all forms of violence, as part of the ARTS (Advocate Right to Safety) Zone for Children which champions children’s rights. The play was funded by Terre Des Hommes Germany and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and is playing July 2011 – June 2012.
South Africa: The Children’s Rights Project based at the University of the Western Cape has proposed to the Department of Social Development that corporal punishment in the home be prohibited. The proposal is supported by other children’s organisations, including the Children’s Institute, Childline SA and the Centre for Child Law. The Department is currently considering whether to amend the Children’s Act. There is to be a consultation on the issue, including with children’s rights campaigners, religious organisations and traditional leaders. (iolnews, 29 January 2012)
Uganda: Children’s representative Leticia Nankabirwa, speaking at the national children’s press conference on violence against children in Uganda, in Kampala, called on members of parliament to enact laws to combat corporal punishment in schools. (UGPulse, 7 December 2011)
US: The US Alliance to End the Hitting of Children, formed following the Global Summit on Ending Corporal Punishment and Promoting Positive Discipline held in Texas in 2011, brings together individuals, groups, and organisations to create a unified voice calling for, and working toward, the end of all forms of physical and emotional punishment against children, especially in schools and homes.
A technical workshop on achieving law reform to prohibit all corporal punishment in West African states was held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in December 2011. Organised by Save the Children Sweden and Plan International in collaboration with the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, it brought together key governmental, parliamentarian and civil society representatives, to share ideas and experience and adopt national action plans in order to advocate for law reforms to end corporal punishment on children. Eighty-one participants (59 adults, 22 children) came from 11 African countries: Burkina-Faso, Togo, Mali, Benin, Niger, Ghana, Guinea, Senegal, Gambia, Côte d’Ivoire and Rwanda. The workshop aimed to strengthen participants’ capacity in advocating for law reform to prohibit corporal punishments of children and to facilitate the development and adoption of national action plans to support key actors’ efforts to end violence against children. Follow up to the workshop will involve: (i) implementation by participants of the national action plans developed during the workshop and (ii) provision of support by the organisers to countries going through law reform. For more information, please contact: Ngende.Nathalia@plan-international.org; EnyoG@waf.savethechildren.se
A meeting on follow up to the UN Study on Violence Against Children in Central America was held in December 2011, organised by the Dominican Republic Government in collaboration with the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children, Marta Santos Pais. Government and civil society representatives, national human rights institutions, children and adolescents and international organisations agreed on a process to publicise the recommendations of the UN Study and evaluate their implementation and to support the establishment of national and regional mechanisms for monitoring implementation. A declaration was adopted – the “Santo Domingo Declaration 2011” – which recognises that eliminating violence against children requires sustained and coordinated efforts, including legislative measures. The UN Study recommendations included prohibition of corporal punishment in all settings, including the home, as a matter of priority.
The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children, an initiative of Arigatou International which encourages secular and faith-based organisations to work together, was celebrated on 20 November 2011. For 2011-2013 the theme of the day is “Stop Violence Against Children”. A UN panel discussion was organised under the auspices of the Permanent Mission of Chile to the UN to discuss the principles of positive parenting, its relationship to child development and how it can prevent or reduce violence against children. More than 85 activities were celebrated in 71 countries, including:
Angola: As part of an ongoing partnership between UNICEF, the Ministry of Family and the 10 major churches representing more than 80% of the population, church services during November focused on preventing corporal punishment.
Iran: The first national inter-religious conference on the role of religion and religious leaders in combating violence against children, with a focus on corporal punishment in family and educational settings, was held in October, at which religious leaders adopted a declaration committing them to advocacy against violence against children and for non-violent disciplining.
Jamaica: A consultation with religious leaders focused on corporal punishment of children in the home and positive discipline.
Mauritania: A ceremony was held to highlight a 2009 fatwa against the use of corporal punishment, and five awareness-raising sessions on non-violent discipline were held.
Sri Lanka: The negative effects of corporal punishment were discussed at an event attended by religious leaders, community leaders and young people.
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3 HUMAN RIGHTS MONITORING
Key decisions and recommendations, etc
In December 2011, a new Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the UN General Assembly which provides for a complaints procedure for violations of children’s rights. Welcoming the new instrument, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said: “Children will now be able to join the ranks of other rights-holders who are empowered to bring their complaints about human rights violations before an international body…. We see every day examples of a wide range of human rights violations against children – from discrimination to child trafficking to all forms of physical or mental violence. I encourage States to sign this Optional Protocol to give child victims of such violations direct access to an international human rights complaints mechanism.” Further information is available here.
The working group reports of states reviewed during the 12th session of the Universal Periodic Review in October are now available. Recommendations were made to prohibit corporal punishment and were accepted by the Governments of Lithuania, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste and UR Tanzania; similar recommendations were rejected by the Governments of Antigua and Barbuda and Zimbabwe. The Global Initiative has now completed an analysis of the whole first cycle of the UPR which will shortly be available on the website or email info@endcorporal