The UN Child Rights Committee (CRC) today issued its findings on Albania, Andorra, Dominican Republic, Kyrgyzstan, Liechtenstein and Togo, after reviewing the six States parties during its latest session.
The findings contain the Committee’s main concerns and recommendations on implementing the Child Rights Convention as well as positive aspects. Key highlights include:
The Committee voiced deep concern that one-third of the child population in Albania is living in poverty, and that the country’s health, education, protection and welfare services are underfunded, and that the child protection system is understaffed. It called upon Albania to review its social protection model and consider aligning the information management systems related to health, education, and social protection, increase the budget allocations for children in the health and social sectors, and ensure access to quality community-based social services.
The Committee was seriously concerned about torture and inhuman and degrading treatment of children by public officials and the police in residential care and pre-trial detention centres. It also questioned the lack of due recognition, underreporting and insufficient investigation of violence against and abuse of children, including online abuse and corporal punishment, particularly regarding minority groups. The Committee urged Albania to immediately investigate all abuse cases in residential care and pre-trial detention centres. It also asked the State party to ensure that perpetrators, including public officials and the police, are prosecuted and sanctioned and that reparations are provided to victims.
The Committee expressed concerns about insufficient sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and that they need to travel outside the country for abortion. It recommended that Andorra improve adolescents’ access to sexual and reproductive health services and information on family planning and modern contraception. It further asked the State party to decriminalise abortion and ensure adolescent girls’ access to safe abortion within the country.
The Committee raised concerns about the lack of community-based mental health services and placement of children with mental health issues in the Residential Centre for Intensive Education or in therapeutic centres outside of the State party. It recommended that Andorra undertake a comprehensive study on mental health among children, develop community-based, therapeutic mental health services and counselling in schools and homes, and phase out the practice of sending children with mental health issues and addictions to residential care centres.
The Committee was deeply concerned by racial discrimination against Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent and the continued irregular status of thousands of Dominican-born children of Haitian descent. It recommended that the state party remove legal provisions and administrative practices that prevent birth registration and access to nationality for children of Haitian descent.
The Committee raised alarm over the absence of a minimum legal age for sexual consent and the high number of cases regarding sexual exploitation and abuse of children. It called on the Dominican Republic to establish a minimum age of sexual consent in its domestic legislation and ensure that the new Criminal Code comprehensively defines the crime of child sexual exploitation.
The Committee voiced deep concerns about the high incidence of gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and abuse against children, including bride kidnapping, and the culture of impunity for perpetrators. It urged Kyrgyzstan to strengthen legislation to punish gender-based violence, promptly investigate all cases of sexual exploitation and abuse, gender-based violence and bride kidnapping, and ensure that all child victims receive adequate protection under the law and have access to multisectoral remedies and comprehensive support.
The Committee was concerned about the large number of children attending schools with insufficient or unsafe infrastructure, and the shortage of classrooms and teachers, which negatively affect school attendance rates and learning outcomes. It asked Kyrgyzstan to provide inclusive education for all children, urgently improve the infrastructure of schools and address schools in an emergency state. It also called on the State party to combat school bullying and develop guidelines and training for teachers on addressing disturbances in schools through a child-sensitive and non-violent approach.
Concerning the lack of reasonable accommodation in mainstream schools for children with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities, the Committee urged Liechtenstein to adopt a human rights-based approach to disability, set up a comprehensive strategy for the inclusion of children with disabilities and continue its efforts towards ensuring that children with disabilities have access to education in mainstream schools with reasonable accommodation and individual supports.
The Committee was concerned about the increasing rates of depression and anxiety among adolescents, particularly those with difficult family situations, lower socioeconomic status, and with chronic conditions. It recommended that Liechtenstein ensure mental health screening of children in consultation with primary care providers to allow early detection and treatment and establish mental health prevention programs targeting particularly those disadvantaged groups of children.
The Committee noted with concern that the population of Togo is affected by rising temperatures, sea level and rainfall, which may lead to floods, droughts, coastal erosion and affect the availability of water resources. It called on Togo to monitor children’s health and ensure that health professionals are trained to diagnose and treat health problems caused by the environment. It also recommended that Togo prepare children for climate change and natural disasters through awareness-raising in school curricula and teacher training programmes.
The Committee was profoundly disturbed by the persistence of harmful practices, including female genital mutilation and forced child marriage. It urged Togo to effectively implement the legislation prohibiting child marriage and female genital mutilation and to establish mechanisms to detect and protect victims and provide them with the necessary support. It also asked the State party to provide training to relevant professionals and religious and community leaders and conduct awareness-raising campaigns on the harmful effects of these practices on young girls’ physical and mental health and well-being.
The above findings, officially known as Concluding Observations, are now available on the session webpage.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Human Rights Treaty Bodies.