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Report updated September 2012

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Child population
4,260,000 (UNICEF, 2010)

Summary of law reform necessary to achieve full prohibition

Prohibition is possibly still to be achieved in the home.

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: “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” (unofficial translation). 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.

Schools

Corporal punishment is prohibited under the 2001 law.

Penal system

Corporal punishment is unlawful as a sentence for crime. It is not among permitted penalties in the Penal Code.

Corporal punishment is prohibited as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions under the 2001 law.

Alternative care

Corporal punishment is prohibited in alternative care settings under the 2001 law.

Prevalence research

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. Four in ten (40%) said they were hit or beaten when they behaved badly, the figure even higher among rural children aged 9-13 years. (Reported in Government response to UN Study on Violence Against Children Questionnaire (2005))

According to statistics from UNICEF relating to the period 2001-2007, of girls and women aged 15-49, 29% think that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife under certain circumstances. (UNICEF (2009), Progress for Children: A report card on child protection, NY: UNICEF)

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 (A/HRC/19/19, Report of the Working Group, paras. 88(35), 88(40), 88(74), 88(78) and 88(92)):

“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.

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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