Last updated: October 2017
Flag of Pitcairn Islands Country report for Pitcairn Islands

Summary of law reform necessary to achieve full prohibition

Law reform has been achieved. Corporal punishment is prohibited in all settings, including the home.

Legality of corporal punishment

Home

Corporal punishment is prohibited in the home under the Children Ordinance 2003 as amended 2009. Article 6 punishes abuse of children; article 7 punishes assault and repeals the common law defence for the use of force: “(1) Everyone who assaults any child is liable: (a) on conviction on information before the Supreme Court to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or to a maximum fine of $1000 or to both; or (b) on conviction before the Magistrate’s Court in its summary jurisdiction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to a maximum fine of $250 or to both. (2) The common law rules permitting the use of force for punishment of a child are abolished.” The prohibition applies to any person who has the custody, care or charge of a child (art. 5). The Constitution 2010 confirms the right of everyone to respect for physical and mental integrity (art. 3), to have his or her dignity respected and protected (art. 4) and not to be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (art. 5).

 

Alternative care settings

Corporal punishment is unlawful in alternative care settings under article 7 of the Children Ordinance 2003 and articles 3, 4 and 5 of the Constitution 2010 (see under “Home”).

 

Day care

Corporal punishment is unlawful in early childhood care and in day care for older children under article 7 of the Children Ordinance 2003 and articles 3, 4 and 5 of the Constitution 2010 (see under “Home”).

 

Schools

Corporal punishment is prohibited in schools under article 7 of the Children Ordinance 2003 and articles 3, 4 and 5 of the Constitution 2010 (see under “Home”).

 

Penal institutions

Corporal punishment is unlawful as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions. There is no provision for it in the Prisons Ordinance 2001 and article 9 of the Constitution 2010 confirms the right of all persons deprived of their liberty “to be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person”. Article 7 of the Children Ordinance 2003 and articles 3, 4 and 5 of the Constitution 2010 also apply (see under “Home”).

 

Sentence for crime

Corporal punishment is unlawful as a sentence for crime. There is no provision for judicial corporal punishment in the Justice Ordinance 2000, the Sentencing Ordinance 2002 or the Summary Offences Ordinance 2000. Article 5 of the Constitution 2010 applies (see under “Home”).

 

Universal Periodic Review of the UK’s human rights record

The UK was examined in the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2008 (session 1). The following recommendations were made:[1]

“To consider further measures in order to address the problem of violence against children, including corporal punishment. (Italy)

“To reconsider its position about the continued legality of corporal punishment against children. (Sweden)

“To consider going beyond current legislation and to ban corporal punishment, also in the private sector and in its Overseas Territories. (France)”

The Government rejected the recommendations for law reform, accepted the recognition to consider going beyond current legislation in relation to protecting children from violence but rejected “the implication that it is failing in this regard through the application of its policy on corporal punishment”.[2]

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

“Reconsider its position about the continued legality of corporal punishment of children (Sweden);

“Take measures to ensure the freedom of children from physical punishment in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Norway);

“Introduce a ban on all corporal punishment of children as recommended by the CRC and other treaty bodies (Finland)”

The Government rejected the recommendations.[4]

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

“In all devolved administrations, overseas territories and Crown dependencies, prohibit all corporal punishment in the family, including through the repeal of all legal defences, such as “reasonable chastisement” (Liechtenstein);

“Ensure that corporal punishment is explicitly prohibited in all schools and educational institutions and all other institutions and forms of alternative care (Liechtenstein);

“Prohibit corporal punishment in all settings, including the family (Ireland);

“Reconsider its position on the legality of corporal punishment of children (Mongolia);

“Ban corporal punishment of children to ensure the full protection and freedom from violence for all children (Sweden);

“Consider prohibiting corporal punishment against children and ensure that it is explicitly prohibited in all schools and educational institutions, and all other institutions and forms of alternative care (Croatia);

“Take further actions in protecting the rights of the child by prohibiting all corporal punishment of children as required by the convention of the Rights of Child (Estonia)”

The Government rejected all seven recommendations, stating: “the UK does not condone any violence towards children and has clear laws to deal with it. The ‘reasonable chastisement’ defence in s.58 Children Act 2004 cannot be used when someone is charged with assault causing actual or grievous bodily harm, or with child cruelty. Parents should not be criminalised for giving a child a mild smack in order to control their behaviour. The Crown Dependencies currently follow a similar approach to the UK. The decision on whether to prohibit corporal punishment and in what settings in the Overseas Territories is a decision, ultimately, for Territory governments. The UK Government is keen to support those Territories who wish to move away from the use of corporal punishment and explore alternative measures, including the development of positive parenting strategies and effective behaviour management techniques.”[6]


Prevalence/attitudinal research for Pitcairn Islands in the last 10 years

None identified.

Footnotes

[1] 23 May 2008, A/HRC/8/25, Report of the working group, paras. 56(2), 56(3), 56(4) and 56(5)

[2] 25 August 2008, A/HRC/8/25/Add.1, Report of the working group: Addendum, paras. 28, 29 and 30

[3] 6 July 2012, A/HRC/21/9, Report of the working group, paras. 110(78), 10(79) and 110(80)

[4] 17 September 2012, A/HRC/21/9/Add.1, Report of the working group: Addendum, annex

[5] 8 May 2017, A/HRC/WG.6/27/L.7, Draft report of the working group, unedited version, paras. 6(193), 6(194), 6(195), 6(196), 6(197), 6(198) and 6(199)

[6] 7 September 2017, A/HRC/36/9/Add.1, Report of the working group: addendum, para. 3; see also 29 August 2017, Annex to the response to the recommendations received on 4 May 2017

Child population

9 (UK Government, 2007)

National and regional advocacy for law reform

n/a

Forthcoming treaty body examinations and UPRs

Only the UN Convention Against Torture, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights apply in the Pitcairn Islands.

For information on upcoming examinations for the above treaty bodies, see the UK's online country report.

Notes

The Pitcairn Islands is a British Overseas Territory. As such, it has its own constitution and domestic laws and substantial responsibility for its internal affairs, including responsibility for the protection and promotion of human rights and a duty to ensure that local law complies with the relevant convention and court judgments and is non-discriminatory. The UK Government has responsibility for international relations, internal security, defence, good governance and the wellbeing of the people.

According to the UK’s 2014 Common Core Document, the following treaties apply in the Pitcairn Islands: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the UN Convention against Torture and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The European Social Charter and the European Convention on Human Rights do not apply.

For extracts from the concluding observations of treaty bodies concerning corporal punishment of children, see the downloadable country reports for the Pitcairn Islands accessible via the links above or go to the UK country report.

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