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COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD MEETS WITH STATES

Calls Attention to Low Reporting and Urges States to Use Simplified Reporting Procedure
1 February 2018

The Committee on the Rights of the Child this afternoon held its tenth informal meeting with States, during which it discussed, inter alia, the launch of the two joint General Comments with the Committee on Migrant Workers, the day of general discussion on children human rights defenders, the global study on the situation of children deprived of liberty, the simplified reporting procedure, budgetary allocations for children’s issues, the new structure of the concluding observations, and the revision of General Comment No. 10 on children’s rights in juvenile justice.

Opening the informal meeting, Renate Winter, Committee Chairperson, noted with concern the rather low rate of ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child’s Optional Protocols, and the low reporting rate under the Convention and the Optional Protocols. She recommended to Governments to use the services provided by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights through its treaty body capacity-building programmes to assist States with fulfilling their reporting obligations. Ms. Winter noted that States did not refer to the Sustainable Development Goals in their periodic reports and she invited more States to use the simplified reporting procedure. With respect to the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure, Ms. Winter said that States should think of assisting the Secretariat as more complaints were coming in and as the backlog was becoming bigger and bigger.

In the ensuing discussion, States suggested that the Committee pose questions related to the Sustainable Development Goals in the list of issues prior to reporting, and asked whether the Committee had regular contact with other treaty bodies and organizations to collect relevant information in order to pre-empt human rights violations. They appreciated the information provided about the simplified reporting procedure, noting that it was particularly helpful in dealing with increased reporting obligations. They called on the Committee to continue harmonizing its working methods and supported the revision of the General Comment No. 10 on juvenile justice.

Speaking in the discussion were Japan, Spain, Austria, Portugal, Bulgaria, Uruguay and Guatemala.

In their interventions, Committee Experts asked States parties to consider referring to the Sustainable Development Goals in their reports, and urged them not to forget to submit information about the measures adopted to implement the Committee's concluding observations. They also invited States parties to provide more information about their budgetary allocations for children's issues, and to carry out regular analysis of those budgetary allocations. Finally, they urged States to use the two joint General Comments on children in the context of migration in daily practice and for input for the Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees, and to provide answers to the questionnaires for the global study on children deprived of liberty.

The Committee will next meet in public on Friday, 2 February, at 5 p.m. to close its seventy-seventh session.

Opening Statement

RENATE WINTER, Committee Chairperson, said that the Committee had reviewed 32 State party reports in 2017, reducing the backlog to 36 reports. The Committee had worked with UNICEF on synergies and assistance, with civil society, especially with Child Rights Connect, and directly with children. Ms. Winter noted with concern the rather low rate of ratification of the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, noting that 174 States had ratified the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, 167 had ratified the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, whereas 37 States had ratified the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure. Ms. Winter also pointed out the low rate of reporting, namely 37 per cent under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, 28 per cent under the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, and 20 per cent under the Convention. She reminded that the Committee had received 18 reports under the Convention since the previous session, three reports under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and one report under the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure.

Ms. Winter recommended to Governments to use the services provided by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights through its treaty body capacity-building programmes to assist States with fulfilling their reporting obligations. She noted that States did not refer to the Sustainable Development Goals in their periodic reports and she invited more States to use the simplified reporting procedure. With respect to the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure, Ms. Winter said that States should think of assisting the Secretariat as more complaints were coming in and as the backlog was becoming bigger and bigger.

Statements by Committee Experts

JORGE CARDONA LLORENS, Committee Expert, stated that the Committee was incorporating the Sustainable Development Goals across the board, but it was concerned that States did not refer to them and to the rights under the Convention in their reports. He urged States to take that into account.

KIRSTEN SANDBERG, Committee Expert, reminded that the Committee had started offering the simplified reporting procedure to States parties in 2016, sending up to 30 questions about measures and developments relating to the implementation of the Convention and the two Optional Protocols. The Committee had made it available to States parties whose periodic reports were due from 1 September 2019 onwards. By now it had been offered to almost 30 States. Under the simplified reporting procedure, States parties were no longer required to submit both the periodic report and the written replies to the list of issues.

CLARENCE NELSON, Committee Expert, informed that the Committee had received over 100 complaints, but not all had been registered. It had registered 39 cases, out of which 31 had been registered in 2017, which was a sharp increase in the number of cases coming in, mainly related to migration. The Committee had dealt with four cases, declared three as inadmissible, and had held one as a violation. That was the first case decided on merits.

HATEM KOTRANE, Committee Expert, noted that many States parties had not yet submitted their initial reports. They struggled in preparing the reports and often they did not really answer the questions put to them. In case of the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, States parties struggled with offering examples of preventive measures, and did not understand what the Optional Protocol required from them. They also did not understand that the sale of children was different from trafficking in children. Mr. Kotrane noted that sometimes after the ratification States parties forgot that they had to submit information about the measures adopted to implement the Committee’s concluding observations.

LUIS ERNESTO PEDERNERA REYNA, Committee Expert, reminded that the Committee had chosen children as human rights defenders as the theme of the day of general discussion to be held in September 2018. Consultations with countries and regions, as well as with children’s organizations would provide input for the debate.

ANN MARIE SKELTON, Committee Experts, noted that the global study on children deprived of liberty had been delayed due to lack of resources. It was nonetheless starting and it would focus on children deprived of liberty in prisons and children in prison with their parents. The Committee would ask States to answer a relevant questionnaire.

MIKIKO OTANI, Committee Expert, explained that the new structure for the concluding observations would highlight a maximum of six of the most important issues. All issues were equally important, but the Committee wanted to hear about measures adopted to implement the Committee’s previous concluding observations. The Committee recognized that it was important to harmonize working methods and thus invited States to offer their comments and recommendations.

CEPHAS LUMINA, Committee Expert, said that the Committee recognized that the ability of States to realize human rights depended on the allocation of sufficient budgetary resources to sectors supporting the realization of all human rights. However, the Committee had noted that many States parties did not provide sufficient information on budgetary allocations. It would be helpful if States parties could provide information on budgetary allocations and if they carried out regular analysis of budgetary allocations on children’s rights and how efficiently they were used.

BENYAM DAWIT MEZMUR, Committee Expert, highlighted the adoption of two joint General Comments adopted with the Committee on Migrant Workers on children in the context of migration. He reminded that the Committee had received more than 80 written inputs, mostly by States parties. The Committee had launched the two joint General Comments in New York in December 2017, and it would organize a Geneva launch in April 2018. Mr. Mezmur urged States to use the two joint General Comments in their daily practices and for input for the Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees.

VELINA TODOROVA, Committee Expert, informed that the Committee would revise General Comment No. 10 on children’s rights in juvenile justice which had been adopted in 2007. The revision was necessary due to changes in legislation and guidelines, and to address the minimum age of criminal responsibility. The Committee was willing to promote restorative justice as an alternative to judicial measures, to revise terminology, and to strengthen procedural safeguards for children in conflict with the law.

Discussion

Japan expressed satisfaction with the opportunity to exchange views and information, valuing the Committee’s preparedness and dedicated work. Children were the most vulnerable parties and their rights were the most important part of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, such as those on poverty, unemployment and violence. Japan suggested that the Committee pose questions related to the Sustainable Development Goals in the list of issues prior to reporting. Did the Committee have regular contact with treaty bodies and organizations to collect relevant information in order to pre-empt human rights violations?

RENATE WINTER, Committee Chairperson, replied that the Committee would think about how to incorporate questions about the Sustainable Development Goals, and that it could
use Universal Periodic Reviews as a source of relevant information.

Spain expressed clear support for the work of the Committee and reminded that it had ratified the Convention and the three Optional Protocols. Spain had just submitted its latest periodic report and it had made major efforts to be part of the dialogue. The authorities were committed to the implementation of the Convention, and they recognized the important work involved in the third Optional Protocol, taking note of the lack of staff to deal with received complaints.

CLARENCE NELSON, Committee Expert, explained that the Committee had tried to streamline the process regarding receiving communications. It was an ongoing work. The Secretariat was overburdened and there were budgetary restrictions. Nevertheless, the Committee was trying to keep up with the incoming communications.

Austria stated that it strongly supported the international human rights monitoring system and appreciated the information provided about the simplified reporting procedure, which was particularly helpful in dealing with increased reporting obligations. It called on the Committee to continue harmonizing its working methods. Any information on handling communications would be helpful. Austria appreciated the global study and reminded that it had contributed to it financially. It also supported the revision of the General Comment No. 10 on juvenile justice.

Portugal reminded that it had submitted to the Committee its combined fifth and sixth periodic report under the Convention and Optional Protocols. It looked forward to the constructive dialogue.

Bulgaria thanked the Committee for the invaluable work and energy dedicated to the rights of the child, which was a top priority for Bulgaria. It underlined that every child was a rights holder and Bulgaria tried to promote the respect for children’s rights around the world, especially inclusive education for children with disabilities and protection of migrant and disadvantaged children.

Uruguay urged the Committee to keep up the good work and country visits despite budgetary restrictions, which strengthened the quality of the independent mechanism and led to an exchange of opinions and good practices. Uruguay fully supported the simplified reporting procedure because it helped both the Committee and States.

RENATE WINTER, Committee Chairperson, reminded that States parties had to invite Committee Experts to carry out country visits. However, Committee Experts could not carry out visits when a country was about to undergo review.

Guatemala stated that its participation in the dialogue with the Committee had been a very useful experience, noting that it was important to establish priorities and give States an opportunity to address them. The Sustainable Development Goals had to be central to the work of the Committee. It was important to develop appropriate methodology to assess the impact of budgetary resources on children and Guatemala might request technical assistance in that regard. Guatemala also asked for more information about the general day of discussion in September 2018 on children as human rights defenders.

RENATE WINTER, Committee Chairperson, noted that countries with a lot of problems could not solve many of them in a short time. As for the impact of budgetary solutions, the Committee tried very hard to find relevant formulations.

LUIS ERNESTO PEDERNERA REYNA, Committee Expert, explained that the purpose of the day of general discussion was to avoid isolating children human rights defenders, and to obtain children’s perspective in defending their rights. The Committee was drafting an agenda with Child Rights Connect for September 2018 and it was expected to be ready in May 2018.

JORGE CARDONA LLORENS, Committee Expert, stated that a series of events would take place throughout 2018 to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Convention, ending in November 2019 with a major conference.

Concluding Remarks

BENYAM DAWIT MEZMUR, Committee Expert, thanked all countries that had hosted consultations on the two joint General Comments. The meeting in Madrid had set the tone and proprieties of the joint General Comments. The Committee had a working group on the Sustainable Development Goals and had undertaken a mapping exercise and looked at 24 reports between January 2017 and January 2018. The central focus of discussion was to make the Sustainable Development Goals relevant to all countries of the world and not just to developing countries, as was the case with the Millennium Development Goals. There was a need to move beyond concluding observations and have a more nuanced conversation about the Sustainable Development Goals with States, and prepare them for that discussion. Mr. Mezmur noted that the Committee had come a long way in aligning its methods of work.

RENATE WINTER, Committee Chairperson, thanked all the delegations for their support, and for understanding the Committee’s problems. The Committee would continue working under difficult circumstances.


For use of the information media; not an official record

CRC18.0011E