Last updated: October 2017
Flag of Turks and Caicos Islands Country report for Turks and Caicos Islands

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.

The right of parents to administer “reasonable chastisement” is recognised under English common law, and article 5 of the Juveniles Ordinance 1968 confirms “the right of any parent, teacher or other person having the lawful control or charge of a juvenile to administer reasonable punishment to him”. These defences should be repealed and prohibition enacted of all corporal punishment by all persons with authority over children.

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

Day care – Provisions authorising corporal punishment in preschool institutions in the Education Ordinance 1989 should be repealed and corporal punishment prohibited in all early childhood care (nurseries, crèches, preschools, family centres) and all day care for older children (day centres, after-school childcare, childminding, etc).

Schools – Article 33 of the Education Ordinance should be repealed and prohibition of corporal punishment enacted in relation to all educational settings, including public and private, full and part time.

Penal institutions – Legislation should prohibit corporal punishment in all institutions accommodating children in conflict with the law.

Legality of corporal punishment

Home

Corporal punishment is lawful in the home, where “reasonable chastisement” is permitted under English common law. Article 5 of the Juveniles Ordinance 1968 (2014 Revision) punishes cruelty to children but also states: “(6) Nothing in this section shall be construed as affecting the right of any parent, teacher or other person having the lawful control or charge of a juvenile to administer reasonable punishment to him.” Children have limited protection from violence under the Offences Against the Person Ordinance 1876.The Constitution 2011 (2014 Revision) states that “no person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” (art. 3).

According to the third/fourth report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2007, the Turks and Caicos Islands is harmonising its national legislation with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including through participating in the OECS Family Law and Domestic Violence Reform Project: the “model” laws drafted by the OECS were expected to be considered by the cabinet in 2007.[1] However, as at September 2014 no new child laws appear to have been enacted.

In its 2014 state party report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UK Government states that it “does not condone any violence towards children and has clear laws to deal with it” but “our view is that a mild smack does not constitute violence”.[2] A similar statement was made to the Human Rights Committee in 2015.[3] The UK Government has on three occasions rejected recommendations to prohibit all corporal punishment of children made during the Universal Periodic Review of the UK (see below).

 

Alternative care settings

Corporal punishment is lawful in alternative care settings under the English common law provision for “reasonable chastisement” and the right “to administer punishment” in article 5 of the Juveniles Ordinance 1968 (2014 Revision) (see under “Home”).

 

Day care

Corporal punishment is lawful in day care under the English common law provision for “reasonable chastisement” and the right “to administer punishment” in article 5 of the Juveniles Ordinance 1968 (2014 Revision) (see under “Home”). The authorisation for the use of corporal punishment in schools in article 33 of the Education Ordinance 1989 (see under “Schools”) also applies to institutions providing preschool education.

 

Schools

Corporal punishment is lawful in schools under article 33 of the Education Ordinance 1989 (2014 Edition): “(1) In the enforcement of discipline in school, degrading or injurious punishment shall not be administered. (2) Corporal punishment may be administered where no other punishment is considered suitable or effective, and only by a person approved by the Minister for that purpose and only in the presence of at least two other teachers. (3) Whenever corporal punishment is administered an entry shall be made in a punishment book which shall be kept in each school for such purpose with a statement of the nature and extent of the punishment and the reasons for administering it.” Article 5 of the Juveniles Ordinance also applies (see under “Home”).

According to the third/fourth report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, no corporal punishment has been authorised by the Minister and therefore it should not have been used in schools.[4] The UK Government has also stated that corporal punishment is not used in public or private schools.[5] In reporting to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2014, the Government stated that “while corporal punishment in schools has not been abolished, there is a general consensus to review the Ordinance and existing policy with the intention of abolishing it and replacing it with other effective means of discipline”.[6]

 

Penal institutions

Corporal punishment is unlawful in prisons. There is no provision for it in the Prisons Ordinance 1990 and the Prisons Regulations 1995. We have been unable to confirm that it is unlawful in all other institutions accommodating children in conflict with the law. The Constitution 2011 (2014 Revision) states that all persons deprived of their liberty “have the right to be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person” and that every juvenile prisoner “shall be treated in a manner appropriate to his or her age and legal status” (art. 8).

 

Sentence for crime

Corporal punishment is prohibited as a sentence for crime under the Law Revisions (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance No. 9 1998, which abolished judicial corporal punishment and repealed the provisions for it in the Malicious Injuries to Property Ordinance 1876, the Offences Against the Person Ordinance 1876 and the Young Offenders Punishment Ordinance 1909. There is no provision for judicial corporal punishment in the Criminal Procedure Ordinance 1968, the Criminal Law Ordinance 1969, the Juvenile Courts Ordinance 1968, the Magistrates Court Ordinance 1899, the Summary Offences Ordinance 1899 and the Juveniles Ordinance 1968.

 

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:[7]

“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, stating that it sees no need for law reform since it believes the current law is working well, parents should be allowed to discipline children and surveys show that the use of corporal punishment in childrearing has declined.[8] It 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”.[9]

Examination in the second cycle of the UPR took place in 2012 (session 13). The following recommendations were made:[10]

“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.[11]

The UK’s third cycle examination took place in 2017 (session 27). The following recommendations were made:[12]

“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.”[13]


Prevalence/attitudinal research for Turks and Caicos Islands in the last 10 years

None identified.

Footnotes

[1] 28 February 2008, CRC/C/GBR/4, Third/fourth state party report, paras. 4 and 5

[2] ibid., para. 11

[3] [n.d.], CCPR/C/GBR/Q/7/Add.1, Advance Unedited Version, Reply to list of issues, para. 161

[4] 28 February 2008, CRC/C/GBR/4, Third/fourth state party report, para. 53

[5] Parliamentary answer to question asked by Baroness Walmsley, 19 December 2011; 27 March 2013, Written replies to list of issues, para. 43.37

[6] [2014], CRC/C/GBR/5, Fifth state party report, annex, para. 61

[7] 23 May 2008, A/HRC/8/25, Report of the working group, paras. 56(2), 56(3), 56(4) and 56(5)

[8] 23 May 2008, A/HRC/8/25, Report of the working group, para. 25

[9] 25 August 2008, A/HRC/8/25/Add.1, Report of the working group: Addendum, paras. 28, 29 and 30

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

[11] 17 September 2012, A/HRC/21/9/Add.1, Report of the working group: Addendum, annex

[12] 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)

[13] 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

10,196 (CIA World Factbook, 2011 est.)

National and regional advocacy for law reform

Forthcoming treaty body examinations and UPRs

Only the UN Convention Against Torture, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights apply in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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

Notes

Turks and Caicos 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 Turks And Caicos Islands: the European Convention on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the UN Convention against Torture, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The European Social Charter does not apply.

For extracts from the concluding observations of treaty bodies concerning corporal punishment of children, see the downloadable country reports for the Turks and Caicos 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.