Last updated: October 2017
Flag of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba Country report for Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba

Summary of law reform necessary to achieve full prohibition

Prohibition is still to be achieved in the home, alternative care settings, day care, schools and penal institutions.

There appears to be no legal defence in legislation for the use of corporal punishment by parents, but it is not explicitly prohibited and legal provisions against violence and abuse are not interpreted as prohibiting all corporal punishment. The near universal acceptance of corporal punishment in childrearing necessitates clarity in law that all such punishment is unacceptable and unlawful. Explicit prohibition should be enacted of all forms of corporal punishment, however light.

Alternative care settings – Explicit prohibition should be enacted in legislation applicable to all alternative care settings (foster care, institutions, places of safety, emergency care, etc).

Day care – Corporal punishment should be prohibited in all early childhood care (nurseries, crèches, kindergartens, preschools, family centres, etc) and all day care for older children (day centres, after-school childcare, childminding, etc).

Schools –Explicit prohibition should be enacted in relation to all educational settings, including public and private, full and part time.

Penal institutions – Explicit prohibition of corporal punishment should be enacted in relation to all institutions accommodating children in conflict with the law.

Legality of corporal punishment


Legality of corporal punishment

Home

Corporal punishment is lawful in the home. The new Civil Code of the Netherlands Antilles replaced the term “parental authority” with “parental responsibility”, but did not prohibit corporal punishment. Article 247 states: “Parental responsibility encompasses the duty and the right of the parent to care for and raise his or her child. The terms ‘care for’ and ‘raise’ include care and responsibility for the psychological and physical well-being of the child and efforts to promote the development of his or her personality” (unofficial translation). Legal provisions against violence and abuse are not interpreted as prohibiting all corporal punishment in childrearing.

In the European Netherlands the Civil Code was amended in 2007 to prohibit corporal punishment and this will apply in Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba if the Code is adopted there. In reporting to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Government explained that when the political changes were implemented in 2010 it was decided to maintain existing legislation as far as possible for a five-year period and for this reason new child legislation has not yet been adopted on Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba; children have limited protection under the Criminal Code but not yet from all corporal punishment in childrearing.[1] The Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations of the Netherlands confirmed in December 2015 that the issue of corporal punishment is being addressed in the context of prevention of abuse in Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba, though made no reference to its prohibition in law.[2]

 

Alternative care settings

There is no explicit prohibition of corporal punishment in alternative care settings under Netherlands Antilles law but it is prohibited under Netherlands law in the Civil Code as amended in 2007 (see under “Home”).

 

Day care

There is no explicit prohibition of corporal punishment in early childhood and in day care for older children under Netherlands Antilles law but it is prohibited under Netherlands law in the Civil Code as amended in 2007 (see under “Home”).

 

Schools

Corporal punishment has been discouraged in schools for some years as a matter of policy but there appears to be no explicit prohibition in law: prohibition is not included in the National Ordinance on Compulsory Education 2008, the National Ordinance on Secondary Education 2008, the National Ordinance on Secondary Vocational Education and Training 2008, the National Ordinance on Primary Education 2001 or the National Ordinance on Nursery Education 2004.

 

Penal institutions

Corporal punishment is considered unlawful as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions, but there is no explicit prohibition under Netherlands Antilles law.

 

Sentence for crime

Corporal punishment is prohibited as a sentence for crime: there is no provision for judicial corporal punishment in criminal law.

 

Universal Periodic Review of the Netherlands’ human rights record

The Kingdom of the Netherlands was examined in the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2008 (session 1). No recommendation was made specifically concerning corporal punishment of children.

Examination in the second cycle of the UPR took place in 2012 (session 13). The following recommendations were made:[3]

“Prohibit corporal punishment in all settings through the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Slovenia);

“Build on this success (achieving a total prohibition of corporal punishment of children in all settings in the European part of the Dutch territory) and ensure that this prohibition is also duly implemented in Aruba and the Netherland Antilles by enacting the necessary legislation in this regard (Hungary)”

The Government responded to the recommendations by stating: “Violence in parenting has been formally prohibited in the Netherlands for several years. In Aruba corporal punishment is prohibited by law in schools, and legislation to extend the prohibition to the family setting is expected in 2012. In Curaçao, the Civil Code was amended to define parents’ role as that of caregivers and educators, prohibiting them from employing emotional or physical violence or any other form of humiliating treatment in parenting their children. The same goes for Sint Maarten since passing of the National Ordinance on Parental Authority in 2011 amending the Civil Code.”[4]

The Netherlands’ third cycle examination took place in 2017 (session 27). The following recommendations were made:[5]

“Ensure that its legislation addresses all forms of violence, explicitly prohibits corporal punishment in all settings and includes measures to raise awareness of positive, non-violent and participatory forms of child-rearing throughout the Kingdom, in particular in Aruba as well as in the Caribbean Netherlands (Liechtenstein)”

“Intensify its efforts in relation to children’s rights including particularly the Caribbean countries forming part of the State, including to prohibit corporal punishment in all settings; to develop and implement public awareness programmes; to reduce the rate of school drop-out and intensify efforts to eradicate child labour; to raise the minimum age of recruitment in the military to 18 years and to ratify the Optional protocol to the CRC on a communications procedure without reservations (Ireland)”

The Government accepted both recommendations, stating in regards to the first one: “Violence has already been made punishable by law in the Penal Code of Bonaire, St Eustatius, and Saba. In addition, the punishment can be increased by one-third if the offender committed the criminal offence against his or her child (among other parties). Corporal punishment in schools is prohibited by Aruban law. The New Civil Code includes a prohibition of corporal punishment in the family setting. In Curaçao, legislation addressing corporal punishment already exists.”[6]


Footnotes

[1] 1 April 2015, CRC/C/NLD/Q/4/Add.1, Reply to list of issues, para. 46

[2] Correspondence with the Global Initiative, 16 December 2016

[3] 9 July 2012, A/HRC/21/15, Report of the working group, paras. 98(18) and 98(75)

[4] 12 October 2012, A/HRC/21/15/Add.1/Rev.1, Report of the working group: Addendum, page 3

[5] 18 May 2017, A/HRC/WG.6/27/L.13, Draft report of the Working Group, paras. 5(117) and 5(154)

[6] 14 September 2017, A/HRC/36/15/Add.1, Report of the working group: Addendum, page 6

Child population

5295 (UNICEF, 2012)

National and regional advocacy for law reform

Forthcoming treaty body examinations and UPRs

For information on upcoming examinations, see the Netherlands' online country report.

Notes

Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba are special municipalities in the Netherlands (Caribbean part). Until October 2010, they were part of the Netherlands Antilles but this was dismantled following constitutional reforms within the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba became more closely associated with the Netherlands. The laws of the Netherlands will gradually be adopted, but in the meantime the legislation of the Netherlands Antilles applies.

It appears the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities all apply in the Netherlands Antilles, as they do in the Netherlands. Article 17 of the European Social Charter, on which states’ obligation to prohibit is based, does not apply.

For extracts from the concluding observations of treaty bodies concerning corporal punishment of children, see the downloadable country reports for Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba accessible via the links above or go to the Netherlands country report

This is an automatic translation service. Extracts from laws, treaty body recommendations and Universal Periodic Review outcomes are unofficial translations.