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COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD HOLDS SIXTY-FIFTH SESSION IN GENEVA FROM 13 TO 31 JANUARY 2014
Situation of Children’s Rights in Congo, Yemen, Holy See, Portugal, Russian Federation and Germany to be Reviewed
9 January 2014

The Committee on the Rights of the Child will meet at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 13 to 31 January 2014 to review the promotion and protection of children's rights under the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols in Congo, Yemen, Holy See, Portugal, Russian Federation and Germany.

At the opening meeting, the Committee will adopt its agenda and programme of work.  During the session, the Committee, in addition to considering reports of States parties, will discuss the organization of its future work and methods of work, and will continue to work on the draft joint General Comment on harmful practices, which is being developed with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

Congo is presenting its combined second to fourth report CRC/C/COG/2-4 under the Convention, and the Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the initial report, considered in September 2006, can be found in CRC/C/COG/CO/1.  Yemen is presenting its fourth periodic report CRC/C/YEM/4 under the Convention, and the Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the third periodic report, considered in June 2005, can be found in CRC/C/15/Add.267.  Yemen is also presenting its initial report under the Optional Protocol on children and armed conflict CRC/C/OPAC/YEM/1.

Holy See is presenting its second periodic report CRC/C/VAT/2 under the Convention, and the Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the initial report, considered in November 1995, can be found in CRC/C/15/Add.46.  The Holy See is also presenting its initial report under the Optional Protocol on children and armed conflict CRC/C/OPAC/VAT/1 and its initial report under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography CRC/C/OPSC/VAT/1.

Portugal is presenting its combined third and four periodic report CRC/C/PRT/3-4 under the Convention, and the Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the second periodic report, considered in November 2001, can be found in CRC/C/15/Add.162.  Portugal is also presenting its initial report under the Optional Protocol on children and armed conflict CRC/C/OPAC/PRT/1 and its initial report under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography CRC/C/OPSC/PRT/1.

Russian Federation is presenting its combined fourth and fifth periodic report CRC/C/RUS/4-5 under the Convention, and the Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the third periodic report, considered in September 2005, can be found in CRC/C/RUS/CO/3.  The Russian Federation is also presenting its initial report under the Optional Protocol on children and armed conflict CRC/C/OPAC/RUS/1.

Germany is presenting its combined third and four periodic report CRC/C/DEU/3-4 under the Convention, and the Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the second periodic report, considered in January 2004, can be found in CRC/C/15/Add.226.  Germany is also presenting its initial report under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography CRC/C/OPSC/DEU/1.

Other documents relating to the Committee’s work can be found on the Committee’s webpage.
The Committee is a body of independent experts formed in 1991 to monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its States parties. The Convention gives a comprehensive collection of children's rights the force of international law. The Committee also monitors implementation of two Optional Protocols to the Convention: the first on the involvement of children in armed conflict and the second on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. A third Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 19 December 2011. It will allow individual children to submit complaints about specific violations of their human rights under the Convention and its first two Optional Protocols. The Protocol opened for signature on 28 February 2012 and will enter into force three months after the deposit of the 10th instrument of ratification or accession.

To date, 193 countries have ratified or acceded to the Convention, making it the most widely accepted international human rights instrument. Somalia and the United States have signed but not ratified it yet.  States parties to the Convention are expected to send representatives to the Committee to present reports on their efforts to implement children's rights. States must report initially two years after acceding to the Convention and then every five years. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations”.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child


The General Assembly adopted the Convention unanimously on 20 November 1989, 30 years after the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of the Child. The Convention renders States parties legally accountable for their actions towards children. Work on drafting the Convention began in 1979 – the International Year of the Child – at the Commission on Human Rights. The Convention was opened for signature on 26 January 1990. That day, 61 countries signed it, a record first-day response. It entered into force just seven months later, on 2 September 1990.

Ratifying the Convention requires a review of national legislation to ensure it meets the provisions of the treaty. The Convention, inter alia, stipulates that every child has the right to life, and that States shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child; that every child has the right to a name and nationality from birth; and that the child's best interests shall be a primary consideration when they are dealt with by courts, welfare institutions or administrative authorities. The Convention recognizes the right of children to be heard.

States shall ensure that each child enjoys full rights without discrimination or distinction of any kind, and that children should not be separated from their parents, unless by competent authorities for their well-being. States shall facilitate reunification of families by permitting travel into, or out of, their territories and protect children from physical or mental harm and neglect, including sexual abuse or exploitation. Children with disabilities shall have the right to education, special treatment and care; primary education shall be free and compulsory and discipline in school should respect the child's dignity; capital punishment or life imprisonment shall not be imposed for crimes committed before the age of 18; no child under 15 should take any part in hostilities and children exposed to armed conflict shall receive special protection. Children of minority and indigenous populations shall freely enjoy their own cultures, religions and languages.


Optional Protocols

In May 2000, the General Assembly adopted the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. The Optional Protocols entered into force in 2002. Currently, 152 countries have ratified the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict; and 166 States have ratified the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. A third Optional Protocol was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 19 December 2011. It provides for a Communications Procedure to allow individual children to submit complaints regarding specific violations of their rights under the Convention and the first two Optional Protocols. Nine countries have ratified it so far.

Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography


Although the Convention requires States parties to prohibit the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, this Optional Protocol extends the measures that States parties must undertake to protect children from these violations of their human rights. The Optional Protocol not only defines the sale of children, child pornography and child prostitution, but also provides a non-exhaustive list of acts and activities which shall be criminalized by States parties. This criminalization also includes attempts, complicity, or participation in such acts or activities. The Optional Protocol sets out the bases for States parties to assert jurisdiction over actionable practices relating to the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography (including extra-territorial legislation) and to make provisions about extradition of alleged offenders. Based on the principle of the best interests of the child, the Optional Protocol also sets forth provisions for protecting and assisting child victims during all stages of the criminal justice process. Preventive measures, as well as redress, rehabilitation and recovery of child victims, are also covered. For the implementation of all these provisions, the Optional Protocol asks for a close collaboration among States parties.

Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict


The Optional Protocol establishes that no person under the age of 18 shall be subject to compulsory recruitment into regular armed forces, and imposes an obligation on States to raise the minimum age for voluntary recruitment to at least 16 years. Upon ratification of or accession to the Optional Protocol, countries must deposit a binding declaration stating their minimum age for voluntary recruitment and the safeguards in place to ensure that that recruitment is voluntary. States Parties to the Protocol shall also ensure that members of their armed forces under 18 years of age do not take direct part in hostilities. In addition, armed groups separate from the armed forces of a State should not, under any circumstances, recruit or use in hostilities persons under 18. States parties are required to take all feasible measures to prevent the recruitment and use of children by any groups, including the criminalization of such practices.

Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure


This new Optional Protocol empowers children to complain about specific violations of their human rights under the Convention and its first two optional protocols to an international body. The Optional Protocol was transmitted by the Human Rights Council to the General Assembly in June 2011. It establishes a procedure to bring complaints under the Convention similar to those that already exist for other core human rights treaties. Upon receiving a complaint, the Committee will examine it to determine whether the Convention has been violated. The Committee will guarantee that child-sensitive procedures and safeguards are put in place to prevent the manipulation of the child by those acting on his or her behalf under the Protocol. While it is examining the complaint, the Committee may request the State to adopt interim measures to prevent possible irreparable damage to the child. It may also request protection measures to prevent reprisals, including further human rights violations, ill-treatment or intimidation, for having submitted such complaints. If the Convention is found to have been violated, the Committee will make specific recommendations for action to the State responsible. Under the Optional Protocol the Committee may now initiate inquiries into grave and systematic violations of the Convention and its first two Optional Protocols. The Optional Protocol also provides for an inter-state communications procedure. The Committee adopted the rules of procedure for this Optional Protocol (CRC/C/62/3) during its 62nd session.

The Protocol opened for signature on 28 February 2012 and will enter into force three months after the 10th ratification.

Committee Membership


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: Amal Aldoseri (Bahrain); Aseil Al-Shehail (Saudi Arabia); Jorge Cardona Llorens (Spain); Sara de Jesus Oviedo Fierro (Ecuador); Bernard Gastaud (Monaco); Peter Guran (Slovakia); Maria Herczog (Hungary); Olga Khazova (Russian Federation); Hatem Kotrane (Tunisia); Gehad Madi (Egypt); Benyam Dawit Mezmur (Ethiopia); Yasmeen Muhamad Shariff (Malaysia); Wanderlino Nogueira Neto (Brazil); Maria Rita Parsi (Italy); Kirsten Sandberg (Norway); Hiranthi Wijemanne (Sri Lanka); and Renate Winter (Austria).

During its sixty-third session, the Committee elected Kirsten Sandberg as its new Chairperson and appointed Aseil Al-Shehail, Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Sara De Jesús Oviedo Fierro and Hiranthi Wijimanne as Vice-Chairpersons. Maria Herzog was elected as Rapporteur.
Ms. Agnes Akosua Aidoo (Ghana) resigned as of 31 October 2013 and the Government of Ghana has to nominate another expert to serve for the remainder of Ms. Aidoo’s term, until 28 February 2015.


Tentative Timetable for Consideration of Reports


Following is a tentative timetable for the consideration of reports from States parties to the Convention during this session:

Monday, 13 January  

10 a.m.         Opening of the session and adoption of agenda
3 p.m.          Congo second to fourth periodic report CRC/C/COG/2-4

Tuesday, 14 January

10 a.m. Congo (continued)
3 p.m. Yemen fourth periodic report CRC/C/YEM/4

Wednesday, 15 January

10 a.m. Yemen (continued)

3 p.m. Yemen OPAC CRC/C/OPAC/YEM/1

Thursday, 16 January


10 a.m. Holy See second periodic report CRC/C/VAT/2
3 p.m. Holy See OPAC/OPSC CRC/C/OPAC/VAT/1 and CRC/C/OPSC/VAT/1

Friday, 17 January


10 a.m.        Closed meeting
3 p.m. Closed meeting

Monday, 20 January


10 a.m. Closed meeting
3 p.m. Closed meeting

Tuesday, 21 January


10 a.m. Closed meeting

3 p.m. Closed meeting

Wednesday, 22 January


10 a.m. Portugal third and fourth periodic report CRC/C/PRT/3-4

3 p.m. Portugal (continued)

Thursday, 23 January  


10 a.m. Portugal OPAC/OPSC CRC/C/OPAC/PRT/1 and CRC/C/OPSC/PRT/1

3 p.m. Russian Federation fourth and fifth periodic report CRC/C/RUS/4-5

Friday, 24 January


10 a.m.   Russian Federation (continued)
3 p.m.          Russian Federation OPAC CRC/C/OPAC/RUS/1

Monday, 27 January

10 a.m.         Germany third and fourth period report CRC/C/DEU/3-4
3 p.m.          Germany (continued)

Tuesday, 28 January

10 a.m.         Germany OPSC CRC/C/OPSC/DEU/1
3 p.m.          Closed meeting

Wednesday, 29 January

10 a.m.         Closed meeting
3 p.m.          Closed meeting

Thursday, 30 January

10 a.m.         Closed meeting
3 p.m.          Closed meeting

Friday, 31 January

10 a.m.         Closed meeting
3 p.m.          Public closing of session


The Committee will engage in dialogue with the respective State delegations in sessions held at Palais Wilson, Ground Floor Conference Room. The sessions will be webcast and can be viewed here: http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/.

The full list of issues and the countries’ reports are available at: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=851&Lang=en

The Committee on the Rights of the Child will publish its concluding observations on Wednesday, 5 February.  A news conference is scheduled for 11.30 a.m. on 5 February at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

To arrange an interview with a Committee member, please contact Allegra Franchetti (+41 (0) 22 917 9340/ afranchetti@ohchr.org)

For more information and media requests, please contact Liz Throssell (+41 (0) 22 917 9434/ ethrossell@ohchr.org

To learn more about the Committee on the Rights of the Child, visit: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/index.htm

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For use of the information media; not an official record

CRC14/001E