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Print this pageCRC: Complaints procedure - lingering doubts tackled




Child Rights International Network

Resource type:

News release

[GENEVA, 8 October 2009] - Concerns about the establishment of a complaints procedure to the CRC were laid to rest at a lunchtime meeting, attended by dozens of participants, at the UN event to celebrate 20 years of the Convention.

Moderator Peter Newell led the defence, arguing: “It would be very clearly discriminatory to say that children can’t have a mechanism to pursue the full range of their rights through lack of resources or lack of adult organisation. “

For example, Mr Newell dismissed the suggestion that children may be liable to manipulation by adults seeking to invoke the procedure. He pointed out that similar arguments had been used to block the establishment of a parallel procedure for the Disability Convention.

He concluded: “To me, opposing the initiation of drafting of the OP to provide a communications procedure for the CRC is tantamount to challenging the very rationale of the Convention – upholding children as rights-holders, alongside the rest of us.” You can read Mr Newell’s speech in full here.

Ms Yanghee Lee, Chair of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, explained that the Committee had spent a year and a half studying the issue of the communication procedure and how they would support the process. She said that the need for such a procedure was obvious and that children's rights were meaningless without some sort of procedure where children can speak out. “We are hoping that by next year we will have the drafting group set up so that we can start drafting immediately after the March session,” she said.

Among other comments, she said there was a need to consider the possibility of joint communications with other mandates, giving them more impact, and to consider how individual communications will add to the reporting process, as well as the UPR and other special procedures.

Ms Susana Villaran de la Puente, Member of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and also on the panel of speakers, said: “While groups of children cannot resort to effective remedies nationally, they must be able to internationally.

She said her region would benefit especially. “This mechanism is essential in Latin America. Hundreds of thousands of children can be better protected by just one case,” she said. “The system would no overlap in any way, and would in fact reinforce regional mechanisms. The relationship between them would be very important. In the regional system we do not have instrument that relates to all of the rights of the child, in the way that this one would. “

Change at national level

She added that the procedure would create change at national level. “The establishment of the procedure will also provide pressure for States to provide remedies at national level,” she said.

She concluded by arguing: “I have no doubt that the new procedure would be used, and that it would be used effectively. I am confident that we will all be able to surmount the special difficulties related to legal advocacy for children.

Ms Najat M'jid Maalla, Special Rapporteur on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, explained that her mandate allows her to receive individual complaints. However, she said she received many allegations that were not relevant to her mandate and she found no other procedure to refer them to. With a complaints mechanism, she said she would not have to wait for States' or Special Rapporteurs' reports but will have a continuous view of the situation: they will enrich the reports of special procedures when violations are relevant to their mandates, and enrich the Universal Periodic Review.

Dr. Leda Koursoumba, Commissioner for Children's rights, repeated that for human rights to have a meaning, there is a need for effective remedies. She emphasised that the establishment of such a mechanism would pressure States to allow remedies at national level and explained that the European Network of Ombudspersons for children (ENOC) had actually established a Working Group on children’s access to national and international justice, because of their concerns about the lack of remedies for many varied breaches of children’s rights, in many States. In some States, children have no legal standing independent from their parents and there is poorly developed legal advocacy for children.

Among the subsequent interventions, Yanghee Lee, and former Chair of the Committee on the Rights of the Child Jaap Doek, agreed that the decision by the Human Rights Council to merely discuss the Optional Protocol, rather than begin drafting, was regrettable.

Representatives from Slovakia and Slovenia emphasised their country’s support of the procedure.

A State delegate from Sierra Leone noted that determining age for such a procedure will be very difficult because many children in Africa do not have a birth certificate.

*The event was organised by the NGO Group for the CRC and made possible thanks to the financial contributions of the Missions of Slovakia and Slovenia.

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Last updated 03/11/2009 06:29:37

Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.

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