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Report updated November 2014

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Child population
4,261,900 (UNICEF, 2012)

Summary of law reform necessary to achieve full prohibition

Prohibition is still to be achieved in the home and possibly in alternative care settings and day care.

We have not identified confirmation of a “right” of parents to punish/discipline children in criminal or civil law, but there appears to be some confusion as to whether the 2001 law prohibiting corporal punishment is applicable within the family home. The near universal acceptance of violence in childrearing necessitates clarity in law that all corporal punishment is prohibited, however light, including in the family home. Explicit prohibition of corporal punishment by parents should be enacted.

Current legality of corporal punishment

Home

It is unclear whether or not corporal punishment is lawful in the home. Articles 1 and 2 of the Law Against Corporal Punishment of Children 2001 state (unofficial translation): “(1) The inhuman treatment of any nature comprising corporal punishment of a child is forbidden. (2) Inhuman treatment is defined by any action that causes a bodily or emotional shock to a child, such as hitting or pushing, or inflicting any punishment that causes damage to the child, using or without the intermediary of an object, weapon or abusive physical force.”But the remainder of the law appears to apply to organisations, schools and other institutions. There is some legal opinion that the prohibition does apply to parental corporal punishment, but there is uncertainty among NGOs and we have been unable to identify any associated public education and awareness raising campaigns.

The Constitution 1987 states that every child “is entitled to love, affection, understanding and moral and physical care from its father and mother” (art. 261) and that a Family Code “should be developed to ensure the protection and rights of the family” (art. 262) (unofficial translation). However, no Family Code has been adopted and the Government rejected recommendations to adopt a Code on Children made during the Universal Periodic Review of Haiti in 2012 on the grounds that this “depended on the elaboration of a family code”.[1] A Family Code and a Bill on violence against women and girls are under discussion and a new Children’s Code is being drafted. As at September 2014, the draft Children’s Code would explicitly prohibit corporal punishment in the home and other settings (art. 56, unofficial translation): “Subjecting a child to corporal punishment or humiliating or degrading treatment at home, at school, on the street or in other institutions is prohibited….”  The Code has been approved by Cabinet and tabled in Parliament.
In September 2014, in response to a question by the Human Rights Committee as to whether corporal punishment is prohibited in all settings, including the family, the Government stated that corporal punishment “is prohibited and is punishable under the Act of 10 September 2001” but made no reference to the draft Children’s Code in this respect.[2]

Alternative care settings

Corporal punishment is prohibited in alternative care settings such as institutions, orphanages, children’s homes and places of safety under the Law Against Corporal Punishment of Children 2001 (see under “Home”). We have yet to confirm that the prohibition applies to foster care. The Act on the Prohibition and Elimination of All Forms of Abuse, Violence, Abuse or Degrading Treatment Against Children 2003 states that a child entrusted to a foster family should be treated as a member of the family (art. 3): the Act prohibits “abuses and violence of all kinds” (art. 2) but does not explicitly prohibit corporal punishment.

Day care

Corporal punishment is prohibited in formal early childhood care such as nurseries, kindergartens, preschools and children’s centres and in formal day care for older children such as day centres under the Law Against Corporal Punishment of Children 2001 (see under “Home”), but we have yet to confirm that the prohibition also applies to day care such as crèches, after-school childcare and childminding.

Schools

Corporal punishment is prohibited under the Law Against Corporal Punishment of Children 2001 (see under “Home”).

Penal institutions

Corporal punishment is prohibited as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions under the Law Against Corporal Punishment of Children 2001 (see under “Home”). Article 25 of the Constitution 1987 prohibits the use of unnecessary force, psychological pressure and physical brutality on a person being detained.

Sentence for crime

Corporal punishment is unlawful as a sentence for crime. There is no provision for judicial corporal punishment in the Penal Code.

Prevalence/attitudinal research in the last ten years

According to UNICEF statistics collected between 2005 and 2013, 85% of children aged 2-14 experienced violent “discipline” (physical punishment and/or psychological aggression) in the home in the month prior to the survey. Nearly eight in ten (79%) experienced physical punishment and 64% experienced psychological aggression (being shouted at, yelled at, screamed at or insulted). Fifty-two per cent were punished by being forced to kneel. A smaller percentage (30%) of mothers and caregivers thought physical punishment was necessary in childrearing. (UNICEF (2014), Hidden in Plain Sight: A statistical analysis of violence against children, NY: UNICEF)

Research by Amnesty International found that despite the prohibition of corporal punishment in schools, it was commonly reported, including the use of whips, beatings with electric cables, and forcing children to kneel in the sun. (Amnesty International (2008), Safe Schools: Every girl’s right)

In UNICEF’s Voices of Children survey, 14% of children reported living in a family where there were scenes of violence and aggression; 40% said they were hit or beaten when they behaved badly, the figure even higher among rural children aged 9-13.
(Reported in Government response to UN Study on Violence Against Children Questionnaire, 2005)

Recommendations by human rights treaty bodies

Committee on the Rights of the Child

“The Committee welcomes:

  1. the adoption of the 2001 Law prohibiting the use of corporal punishment within the family and in schools….

“The Committee welcomes the Act prohibiting corporal punishment (August 2001) within the family and at schools, but remains concerned at the persistent practice of corporal punishment by parents or teachers and the ill-treatment of child domestics (restaveks). The Committee is further deeply concerned about instances of ill-treatment of street children by law enforcement officers.

“The Committee recommends that the State party:

  1. take all necessary measures for the effective implementation of the law prohibiting corporal punishment, in particular by making use of information and education campaigns to sensitize parents, teachers, other professionals working with children and the public at large to the harm caused by corporal punishment and to the importance of alternative, non-violent forms of discipline, as foreseen in article 28, paragraph 2, of the Convention;
  2. investigate in an effective way reported cases of ill-treatment of children by law enforcement officers and ensure that alleged offenders are transferred from active duty or suspended while they are under investigation, dismissed and punished if convicted;
  3. provide for the care, recovery and reintegration of child victims.”

(18 March 2003, CRC/C/15/Add.202, Concluding observations on initial report, paras.3, 36 and 37)

Universal Periodic Review

Haiti was examined in the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2011 (session 12). No recommendations were made specifically concerning corporal punishment of children. However, the following recommendations were made and were accepted by the Government:[3]

“Ensure that the rights of women and girls are protected during the recovery process, including protecting them from violence (Australia);

“Take the most appropriate measures to better protect children with disabilities (Djibouti);

“Take continued action to combat violence against women and girl children (Sri Lanka);

“Take all the measures necessary, in particular by reinforcing the current structures, to play a leadership role to prevent and combat violence against women and children, including sexual abuses, especially in the displacement camps (Canada);

“Take further steps to deal with the problem of child domestic workers and abolish children abuse (Turkey)”

Examination in the second cycle is scheduled for 2016.

Notes:
1. 24 May 2013, A/HRC/19/2, Report of the Human Rights Council on its nineteenth session, para. 879
2. 12 September 2014, CCPR/C/HTI/Q/1/Add.1, Reply to list of issues, para. 63
3. 8 December 2011, A/HRC/19/19, Report of the working group, paras. 88(35), 88(40), 88(74), 88(78) and 88(92)

This analysis has been compiled from information from governmental and non-governmental sources, including reports on implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Every effort is made to maintain its accuracy. Please send us updating information and details of sources for missing information: info@endcorporalpunishment.org.

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