COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD EXAMINES REPORT OF MONACO
1 October 2013
The Committee on the Rights of the Child today considered the combined second to third periodic report of Monaco on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Presenting the report, Carole Lanteri, Permanent Representative of Monaco to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Monaco had taken several measures to strengthen the promotion and protection of the rights of the child, including raising the legal majority age to 18 years old, amending the civil code and the code of commerce to establish equality of men and women, replacing the notion of paternal power in the civil code with parental authority, and adhering to international human rights instruments, such as the conventions against domestic violence and violence against women. Measures had been adopted in healthcare, particularly in relation to services provided to pregnant women, in education, especially with a view to making the education system as inclusive as possible, and in the fight against drug and alcohol addiction among young persons.
In the interactive dialogue that followed, the Committee commended Monaco on progress made thanks to additional measures adopted in recent years. Committee Experts raised issues concerning the coordination of efforts undertaken for the implementation of the Convention, the function and independence of the newly established Office of the Mediator for Human Rights, measures to prevent child labour, and the dissemination of information about the principles of the Convention. Questions were also asked about the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children, measures taken to protect the rights of children with disabilities, and the circumstances in which abortions were allowed.
In concluding remarks, Maria Rita Parsi di Lordone, Country Co-Rapporteur for Monaco, said that Monaco had actively demonstrated its commitment to the Convention. The country’s small size presented certain advantages when it came to the implementation of the Convention, but other times it posed additional challenges. The Committee hoped that Monaco would take on board its recommendations.
Ms. Lanteri said that Monaco continued to undertake efforts to live up to the Committee’s high expectations. Delays in the submission of reports under the Convention and the Optional Protocols were due to a lack of human resources. Recommendations received from the Committee would receive careful consideration.
The delegation of Monaco included representatives from the Department of External Relations, the Department of Justice, the Department of Social Affairs and Health, the Department of Legal Affairs, the Directorate of Labour, the Directorate of National Education, and the Permanent Mission of Monaco to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. on Friday, 4 October, when it will adopt its concluding observations and recommendations on the reports of Sao Tome and Principe, Kuwait, Tuvalu, Lithuania, Paraguay, China, Luxembourg and Monaco, which were considered during the session, before closing its sixty-fourth session.
The combined second and third periodic report of Monaco can be read here: CRC/C/MCO/2-3.
Presentation of the Report
CAROLE LANTERI, Permanent Representative of Monaco to the United Nations Office at Geneva, presenting the report, said that Monaco, an independent and sovereign State covering a surface area of just over 2 square kilometres, had only 36,000 inhabitants with over 125 nationalities co-existing peacefully. Monaco was committed to promoting and protecting human rights, particularly the rights of the most vulnerable groups, such as children, women and persons with disabilities.
Monaco had adapted its legislation to ensure that it better fitted reality. The legal majority age had been set at 18 years old. The civil code and the code of commerce had been amended to establish equality of men and women within the household, and the notion of paternal power in the civil code had been replaced by parental authority. Moreover, Monaco had adhered to a number of international human rights instruments, including the conventions against domestic violence and violence against women.
Health remained a priority for the Government, which had established prevention and information programmes to ensure the healthy upbringing of children. Pregnant women were entitled to a medical follow-up and a special regime at work, while a special pre-natal programme offered support to women before birth. The country’s high quality health system included a specialized paediatric wing in Princess Grace Hospital, where everything had been designed to create a comfortable environment for children patients.
Concerning the integration of children with disabilities in the school community, specialized personnel had been trained to assist children with disabilities wherever necessary. Monaco had tried to make all activities, including sport, accessible to all pupils, and a free transport service was provided to persons with reduced mobility seven days a week.
Specialized personnel in schools provided information on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Condom distributors were available in pharmacies, and Monaco was working closely with various associations, including “Fight AIDS Monaco” and the Red Cross in Monaco, to raise awareness among young persons. Anonymous testing was available, and treatment provided to patients was covered by the national insurance.
There were 5,884 pupils in Monaco, representing over 75 different nationalities, 30 per cent of whom did not reside in the principality. Monaco was actively developing its education system, was diversifying and adapting its education practices, and was integrating new information technologies into its education system. Several programmes enabled students to participate in the running of their schools and institutions.
Specific measures were taken to fight violence in schools. Issues were dealt with on a case-by-case basis taking into account the particular circumstances of each case, but general prevention measures were also taken. For example, in secondary education, information and prevention sessions about violence were carried out by institutional partners, and surveillance personnel maintained a dialogue with pupils.
Monaco also undertook action to fight against the consumption of drugs and alcohol and young persons’ addiction to substances. In 2009, a committee for health and citizenship had been established in order to initiate further projects in that regard. Students, teachers and representatives of various organizations were involved in those projects. A programme of mediation had been set up in schools to bring adolescents and adults together and to encourage them to discuss various subjects. Concerning the consumption of alcohol by young adults, teachers had the responsibility to identify adolescents at risk and take preventive measures.
Psychologists worked with pupils in schools through the programme “Surfing the Internet with Caution”, and various measures were taken to protect vulnerable children from dangers on the internet. Qualified personnel would identify and work with children and families in a difficult situation, paying special attention to the health, security and morality of children. Legal representatives of minors were regularly informed of developments. Other measures included protecting social entitlements, providing financial assistance, re-housing families, and providing psychological support and a medical follow-up for the child and their parents.
With regard to disciplinary measures for minors, minors under 16 years would not be placed in disciplinary cells, whatever the offence. Placement in a disciplinary cell of a minor over 16 years would not last for more than three days, regardless of the offence committed.
Questions by Experts
JORGE CARDONA LLORENS, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for Monaco, said that the Committee recognized the progress Monaco had made in recent years. Since Monaco was a developed, wealthy country, the Committee was more demanding and expected of it to reach all its goals. Even though Monaco had adopted a large number of the recommendations it had received during its last review, it had changed its mind about withdrawing its reservation on nationality. Why? Concerning its national plan for the rights of the child, who was responsible for coordinating and evaluating that plan to ensure its effective implementation? What were the functions of the mediator and were there any plans to create an independent national human rights institution as recommended in 2001?
Mr. Cardona Llorens also said that there was not enough data to assess Monaco’s compliance with economic, social and culture rights. Was data on children disaggregated by disability, nationality or age available? Was there an appropriate collection system in place? Did Monaco have specific regulations within its legal framework to monitor industry activity in order to ensure that the rights of the child were fully respected at all times? Was there any supervision of the activities of financial companies to ensure that the rights of the child were protected and that no money laundering was taking place from activities abroad that violated the rights of the child? Also, were the best interests of the child taken into account when foreigners were deported or parents were put on trial? The number of suicides committed by minors appeared to be very high. Was Monaco adopting preventive measures to understand the root causes of the phenomenon and prevent suicide?
MARIA RITA PARSI DI LODRONE, Committee Member acting as Country Co-Rapporteur for Monaco, welcomed the amendments made to the law on the transmission of nationality, which she said would help to prevent statelessness. Monaco’s criminal code had an effective set of laws protecting children from violence. Nevertheless, the law contained no explicit prohibition of corporal punishment in the family or in schools, and there seemed to be social acceptance of corporal punishment as a disciplinary method. A clear message should be sent to parents and children in all areas of life that corporal punishment could not be tolerated either as a disciplinary or a corrective measure. Acts of violence against women, children and persons with disabilities should be prevented and prohibited. Also, there seemed to be no mechanism in place to receive individual complaints from children and adolescents. Would Monaco consider establishing a three-digit helpline where complaints could be received? To what extent had the use of positive discipline been promoted among parents and teachers? Had children directly participated in awareness-raising campaigns? Had Monaco planned campaigns to listen to children on various subjects, such as corporal punishment? Had Monaco informed children of their rights under the Convention through appropriate campaigns?
An Expert said that the principality showed great respect to the rights of the child and was a place where children enjoyed a high status in all aspects of their family and social life. Nevertheless, more could be done to improve the situation. Was Monaco considering signing the Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families? Was Monaco going to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities? Had the marriageable age for girls been fixed at 18 years old as previously recommended by the Committee?
There seemed to be discrimination between legitimate and illegitimate children in the civil code, said an Expert, particularly with regard to inheritance. Did Monaco discriminate against children born out of wedlock and did those children have the same rights as children born in marriage?
An Expert asked what measures had been taken to ensure that there were real possibilities for children to participate in awareness-raising campaigns and other activities for the promotion of the rights of the child.
Was there a punishment for pupils bullying other pupils in educational institutions? What mechanisms were there to deal with such issues? Concerning the use of the internet, what was Monaco doing to counsel parents and help children at school in their use of the internet and social networks? What channels of communication did Monaco use in order to communicate with young persons?
Response by Delegation
The delegation began its response to the questions asked by the Experts by saying that, concerning internet use, all pupils were required to sign a charter on the use of the internet in school, which made them aware of possible dangers. Monaco was also working with the non-governmental organization “Action Innocent”, which was providing training and information about the use of the internet to young persons early on in life. Debates were organized in schools to encourage children to express their concerns, and training was also offered to parents as a means of ensuring prevention of child crime online.
In terms of provisions in the criminal code for the protection of children online, the delegation said that Monaco had strengthened its criminal code with new types of crime and new procedural provisions. For example, the law now provided for severe penalties to punish the use, production and dissemination of child pornography, and the crime of “grooming” had also been included in Monaco’s criminal code.
The delegation said that the 2007 law on education ensured the equal participation of pupils in all internal school bodies, which also functioned as a general introduction to democratic procedures. Pupils were also involved in health and citizenship education committees, which enabled young persons to raise issues and make their opinions heard. The participation of children in a national advisory committee enabled young persons to make their voice heard at the national and international levels.
Concerning the complaints procedure, the delegation said that the law made provisions for a child’s legal representative and also for associations and non-governmental organizations to file complaints on behalf of children. Custody rules had been amended so as to allow minors to be heard. Specialized training was provided to legal staff dealing with such situations as well as to police officers. Children’s views were also heard during divorce proceedings which may affect them. The guardianship judge would be informed by a legal representative or directly by the child whenever the need arose for the child to speak.
The notion of minority did not exist in the legal system in Monaco, because it was not something that people took note of, as Monegasques were a minority in their own country. There was no discrimination against children with disabilities, and special measures were taken to ensure that children with disabilities could participate in school and other activities on an equal footing as all other children. Children with disabilities had no problems accessing any stage of education.
Monaco had recently appointed a Mediator, who was a motor for all human rights protection activities in the Principality and was also responsible for addressing all questions concerning human rights, including the rights of the child. The Mediator had the power of investigation within the Monegasque administration and could request documents or set up a hearing with Government officials. The Mediator’s Office enjoyed financial and administrative independence, which was necessary for the Mediator to be able to fulfil all duties.
The delegation said that the Mediator’s Office was in conformity with the Paris Principles and stressed that, even though at this stage no further details were available on that matter, every effort would be made to preserve the Mediator’s independence. Monaco was currently taking all appropriate steps towards signing the third Optional Protocol to the Convention.
Concerning the legal age of marriage, the delegation said that since 2011 the age of marriage had been the same for men and women, 18 years old.
Ratification of international instruments depended on the alignment of domestic law with international treaties. Subject to approval by Monaco’s Parliament, a new harmonization bill had been prepared in order to move things forward in that respect.
Concerning questions on corporal punishment, the delegation said that Monaco had a legal arsenal at its disposal to deal with that issue, even though the criminal code did not have specific sanctions for corporal punishment as such, mainly because as a crime it was hard to define. Nevertheless, the criminal code provided for progressively heavy penalties for all acts of violence against minors, depending on the damages caused to the child concerned.
Questions by Experts
MARIA RITA PARSI DI LODRONE, Committee Member acting as Country Co-Rapporteur for Monaco, said that measures taken to prevent sexually transmitted diseases were very positive. However, young mothers in a vulnerable situation required closer attention. Did Monaco provide support specifically to teenage mothers? Did adolescents have access to preventive and consultation services provided in a confidential environment and without the presence of their parents? Was abortion in Monaco sanctioned in cases where the woman had been the victim of rape? What were the causes of early and teenage pregnancies?
Ms. Parsi di Lodrone said that the Committee remained concerned about drug and alcohol addiction and drug abuse among young persons in Monaco. What had Monaco done to strengthen the fight against drug addiction and were there any rehabilitation measures for child drug users?
Awareness-raising campaigns about the exploitation of children online needed to be stepped up to eradicate completely child pornography, which, given the size of Monaco, was achievable. Three-fold action needed to be taken: children should be informed about how to protect themselves physically and online; training should be provided to make children responsible from an early age; and appropriate training should be provided to parents and teachers to help them protect children from abuse online.
JORGE CARDONA LLORENS, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for Monaco, requested additional information on children with disabilities. He said that Monaco had made progress in creating an inclusive society. Had the results of Monaco’s new inclusive education policy been assessed? The Committee had received information about minors being employed in the tourism industry. What was Monaco doing to prevent child labour? The age of criminal responsibility in Monaco was 13 years old, whereas in most other European countries it was higher. Would Monaco consider raising the age of criminal responsibility?
An Expert said that Monaco had made significant efforts to raise awareness about the principles of the Convention. Did awareness-raising campaigns reach all children in schools and the general public? Was Monaco making use of the media to promote the Convention? Were there on going programmes to train professionals working for or with children in the provisions of the Convention?
An Expert noted that in Monaco’s extraterritorial jurisdiction laws, the crime of recruiting children was not expressly mentioned. Did Monaco have a mechanism in place to identify asylum-seeking children who had participated in armed conflict in their country of origin?
Response by the Delegation
The delegation said that according to a 2003 law, the rights of inheritance were accessible to all children as long as there was a legally established link to the deceased, so no distinction was made between legitimate and illegitimate children in that respect.
Concerning children of unknown origin, article 47 of the civil code provided that anyone who found a new born child had to declare the child and any identifiable items found with it. An apparent date of birth was established if no information on the child was available. Anonymous birth was possible at Princess Grace Hospital but that was an extremely rare phenomenon. Only two anonymous births had taken place in Monaco.
Responding to the Committee’s questions about suicides, the delegation said that the national mental health policy was a priority for Monaco. Available figures did not match the supposedly high number of suicides which the Committee had mentioned. High quality mental health services were available in Princess Grace Hospital, including in the hospital’s paediatric wing.
The delegation said that 0.47 per cent of the State budget was allocated through the Office of Social Protection to activities carried out in the context of the implementation of the Convention.
Concerning the prosecution of laundering money coming from activities which had involved the exploitation of children, the law provided for penalties to be applied in cases where persons had been exploited and to all related offences. Criminal prosecution could also take place outside Monaco through activating the country’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.
The delegation expressed surprise at the Committee’s comments about child labour in Monaco, and said that appropriate legislation was in place to protect children from illegal employment. There were specific legal requirements which employers had to respect in terms of the age of the prospective employee, the duration and remuneration of work, and the type of job assigned to employees.
Education was obligatory for children of both sexes from 6 to 16 years old, and minors were not allowed to work. An exception to that rule applied to children who were allowed to work in the establishment of their parents for a limited number of hours during school holidays only, and to children who were above 15 years old and had chosen to receive vocational training, provided that they had completed their basic schooling requirements. There were very few students who asked to switch to vocational training from a mainstream school. Inspectors carried out regular checks in places where minors might be unlawfully employed, and no child labour cases had been reported so far.
A priority system was in place to ensure that Monegasque citizens had priority when it came to seeking employment, which was why Monaco had not yet ratified certain International Labour Organization conventions. The matter was being reviewed by the Government. Monaco was currently considering withdrawing its reservations on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but there were no plans to withdraw its declaration yet.
The concept of the best interests of the child underpinned the Monegasque law on family and judicial policy. The law sometimes explicitly referred to the best interests of the child, especially in divorce proceedings, for example in cases where it was necessary for a parent and child legally to abandon a spousal home. The views of the child were always taken into account in such cases, but it should also be borne in mind that children were in need of protection and it was not always advisable to make them choose between their parents.
Concerning the issue of abortion, the delegation said that in Monaco abortion was allowed in the following cases: preservation of the life of the pregnant woman; diagnosis in the foetus of an incurable disease; and rape, whoever the perpetrator may be.
Concerning Monaco’s juvenile system, the total number of minors arrested in 2012 was six (four boys and two girls). The duration spent by each person in detention varied, depending on the offence. A new 2013 law on police custody provided for a specific regime for young offenders. Minors above the age of 13 years could no longer be held in custody unless all other alternatives had been exhausted or the crime they were suspected of had been extremely serious. Since holding minors in police custody was used as an exceptional measure only, the practice was constantly under intense scrutiny. Minors held in custody were obligatorily assigned legal representation and had access to a number of services, including medical assistance.
Magistrates and judges in Monaco had on going access to training in human rights, including the rights of the child. Some of the aspects in which they had been trained were crimes committed over the internet and child pornography. Training was also organized for police officers, social workers and other staff who dealt with vulnerable groups, including children. The “Palais de Justice” in Monaco organized regular conferences in human rights, and lawyers often attended such events. A doctor and a psychologist were required to be present along with a lawyer every time a minor gave evidence as a witness. Monaco’s legal aid system was highly developed and provided for the full coverage of interpreting and translation services whenever foreign minors were involved in legal proceedings.
The national day of the rights of the child, celebrated every year on 21 November, served as a major opportunity to disseminate further information about the Convention in Monaco. Special events were organized on that day each year with the participation of numerous non-governmental organizations, and those events received close attention in the media. Other awareness-raising activities were carried out throughout the year, with the participation of non-governmental organizations and children.
A study had been conducted on the effects of substance abuse on Monaco’s youth, following a recent increase in the consumption of tobacco, alcohol and drugs. The consumption of tobacco by young persons had increased from 25 to 38 per cent, the consumption of alcohol had increased from 62 to 69 per cent, and the use of cannabis from 10 to 21 per cent, reaching a level higher than the European average. More specialized studies on the subject were being conducted so that targeted measures could be taken.
Concerning adoption, the delegation said that in Monaco there was a high demand for the adoption of children. As Monaco was a party to the Hague Convention, adoption procedures were governed by that convention, both within Monaco and with other countries parties to the Hague Convention. The parents were carefully examined by the authorities in Monaco or by the local authorities in foreign countries, as applicable. Most adoptions in Monaco involved children brought into the country from abroad, on whom there was a long-term follow-up.
Children with disabilities were quickly identified and their parents received specialized advice on how to proceed, depending on the needs of the child. Children were kept in mainstream schools as much as possible. Alternatively, they were placed in specialized schools or received home education. The focus was on identifying the type of schooling which suited each child best and which would enable the child to be successful in life. A special system for the recruitment of persons with disabilities had been established, whereby employers hiring persons with disabilities were subsidized by the State. Special accommodation was available for persons with disabilities.
Children with disabilities were sometimes sent to France if they had an extreme disability which could not be treated in Monaco. Out of 35 children with disabilities, nine were currently being treated in France because Monegasque infrastructure could not accommodate the type of disability they had.
Asylum requests in Monaco, including from children, were carefully studied. There was on going cooperation with the French authorities on that matter, especially with regard to an exchange of information. Monaco always did everything it could to host children who were granted asylum in the best possible way and to ensure their future success in life.
JORGE CARDONA LLORENS, Committee Member acting as Country Co-Rapporteur for Monaco, thanked the delegation for their frank and detailed answers to the Committee Experts’ questions. Monaco had actively demonstrated its commitment to the Convention and had shown the high level of respect it had for the rights of the child. The country’s small size presented certain advantages when it came to the implementation of the Convention, but other times it posed additional challenges. Those challenges had been reflected in the interactive dialogue with Committee Members over the past two days. The Committee hoped that Monaco would take on board the Committee’s recommendations, as it did the last time it was reviewed.
CAROLE LANTERI, Permanent Representative of Monaco to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Monaco had undertaken a voluntary commitment to follow the text of the Convention, which represented a major priority for the country. Over time, Monaco had noted that the Committee had high expectation and additional demands of it, so it had tried to live up to the Committee’s expectations. Monaco would carefully study all recommendations received and would take appropriate action. Concerning the chronic delay in submitting reports under the Convention and the Optional Protocols, the delegation said that delays were due to a major lack of human resources. Ms. Lanteri thanked Committee Members for a fruitful dialogue and said that next time the delegation came before them, further progress would have been made in the implementation of the Convention.
For use of the information media; not an official record