Prohibition of all corporal punishment in Greece (2006)

On 19 October 2006, the Greek Parliament passed Law 3500/2006 on the Combating of Intra-family Violence, under which corporal punishment of children within the family is prohibited. Article 4 of the new law states:

Physical violence against children as a disciplinary measure in the context of their upbringing brings the consequences of Article 1532 of the Civil Code.”

Article 1532 of the Civil Code provides for various consequences for abuse of parental authority, the most serious being the removal of parental authority by the courts. An explanatory report issued to Parliament by Ministers responsible for the introduction of the bill confirmed that “corporal punishment is not included in the permissible disciplinary measure of article 1518 of the Civil Code”. Article 1518 enshrines parents’ right to use “corrective measures” but “only if these are necessary from a pedagogic point of view and do not affect the child’s dignity”.)

The new law results from the work of the Greek Network for the Prevention and Combating of Corporal Punishment of Children, a committee of government and non-government bodies established in October 2005 specifically to draft legislation which would prohibit all corporal punishment, following an earlier finding by the European Committee of Social Rights under the Collective Complaints procedure of the European Social Charter that Greece was in violation of article 17 of the Charter because of the absence of such a prohibition (Resolution ResChS(2005)12, Collective complaint No. 17/2003 by the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) against Greece, adopted by the Council of Ministers on 8 June 2005).

Progress towards prohibition

2002

February: The Committee on the Rights of the Child, in its concluding observations on the initial Greek state party report, expressed concern that corporal punishment was not prohibited in the family and that “about 60 per cent of parents practice corporal punishment of children” (CRC/C/15/Add.170, para. 42 (a)). The Committee recommended that the Greek government “prohibit all forms of violence against children, including corporal punishment, by law in all contexts, including in the family” and “undertake education and awareness campaigns to inform, among others, teachers, parents and medical and law enforcement personnel about the harm of violence, including corporal punishment, and about alternative, non-violent, forms of educating children” (para. 43 (a and b)). 

2003

July: The World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) lodged a complaint against Greece under the Collective Complaints procedure of the European Social Charter alleging, in relation to article 17 of the Charter (the right of mothers and children to social and economic protection), that legislation in Greece did not effectively prohibit corporal punishment of children (Collective Complaint No. 17/2003, OMCT v Greece). The European Committee of Social Rights declared the complaint admissible in December 2003.

2004

April: An informal group of experts was established, including the Greek Ombudsman (Department of Children’s Rights) to promote the abolition of corporal punishment of children in Greece and to prepare for establishing a Network for this purpose.

December: Under the Collective Complaints procedure, the European Committee of Social Rights concluded that there was a violation of article 17 of the Charter because of the absence of explicit prohibition in law of corporal punishment of children within the family, in secondary schools and in other institutions and forms of childcare (7 December 2003, Complaint No. 17/2003 Decisions on the merits).

2005

January: The European Committee of Social Rights informed the Greek government and the Committee of Ministers of its decision that there was a violation of article 17 (see above).

February: A Public Statement by the Greek Ombudsman requested that the government change the law so as to prohibit corporal punishment of children within the family.

April: The Minister of Justice formed a Committee to prepare a new Draft Law on Domestic Violence. The Deputy Ombudsman for Children’s Rights was invited to participate and to introduce proposals for the prohibition of corporal punishment

June: The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers adopted a resolution confirming the findings of the European Committee of Social Rights and noting the progress made by the Greek government towards prohibition of corporal punishment (8 June 2005, Collective Complaint No. 17/2003, Resolution ResChS(2005)12).

July: In its conclusions on examination of the Greek state party report under the reporting procedures of the European Social Charter, and in light of the findings under the Collective Complaint, the European Committee of Social Rights found the situation in Greece to be not in conformity with article 17 “on the ground that there is no prohibition in legislation of all corporal punishment of children” (Conclusions XVII-2).

October/November: The Greek Network for the Prevention and Combating of Corporal Punishment of Children, involving government and non-government organisations, was established specifically to draft legislation which would prohibit all corporal punishment. The media reacted positively to the public announcement of the Network. The action plan of the Network included various activities, such as seminars for professionals, further research, special publications, radio and TV spots. On 25 November , the Minister of Justice announced publicly the new Draft Law on Domestic Violence which was to be introduced for discussion in Parliament. Article 4 of the Draft Law was intended to prohibit corporal punishment, and stated: “Physical violence against children as a corrective measure in the context of their upbringing has the consequences of Article 1532 of the Civil Code”. (Article 1532 punishes abuse of parental authority.) In presenting the new Draft Law, the Minister of Justice stated: “The new law introduces crucial reforms, which I would like to stress in particular:.... For the first time physical violence against children, as a corrective measure in the context of their upbringing, is explicitly prohibited. Our country thus follows the recommendations of the Council of Europe, the UN Committee for the Rights of the Child, as well as the Public Statement of the Greek Ombudsman.”

2006

October: the Greek Parliament passed Law 3500/2006 on the Combating of Intra-family Violence, under which corporal punishment of children within the family is prohibited. Article 4 of the new law states: “Physical violence against children as a disciplinary measure in the context of their upbringing brings the consequences of Article 1532 of the Civil Code.”

November: The new law was announced in a press release issued by the Greek Ombudsman (Department of Children’s Rights) on 1 November:

NEW LAW ON THE PROHIBITION OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT IN GREECE
On October 10th 2006 Greece joined the countries, which have prohibited corporal / physical punishment of children within the family, by law. On that day, the Greek Parliament voted solidly for the abolition of all forms of physical violence, including physical punishment, against children in the context of their upbringing.

Article 4 of the Law 3500/2006 on the Combating of Intra-family violence states: “Physical violence against children as a disciplinary measure in the context of their upbringing brings the consequences of Article 1532 of the Civil Code”. It must be noted that article 1532 CC regulates the consequences of defective exercise of parental responsibility, which vary and can be as severe as the removal of parental responsibility, imposed by the competent court of law.

The wording of Article 4 of the new law has not been to the complete satisfaction of the Greek Network for the Prevention and Combating of Corporal Punishment of Children, which, having embraced the public statement made by the Ombudsman (Children’s Right Department) in February 2005, urged for the use of the term ‘corporal punishment’ instead of the more general “physical violence”.

However, it is important to stress that the Ministers responsible for the introduction of the bill (Minister of the Interior, Minister of the Exchequer, Minister of Education, Minister of Health, Minister of Justice and Minister of Public Order) in their explanatory report to the Parliament made an explicit reference to the term “corporal punishment”, by stating the following: “by the provision of article 4 (of the bill) it is made clear that the corporal punishment of children is not included in the permissible disciplinary measures of article 1518 of the Civil Code.”

Moreover, the definition of the term “physical violence” offered in the above report corresponds with the definition of corporal punishment, put forward by the Ombudsman in his public statement, thus leaving no doubt about the true content of the law.

Lastly, it is stated in the report that the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child as well as those of the Council of Europe and the Greek Ombudsman’s public statement on the abolition of corporal punishment have been taken into consideration during the drafting of the bill.

Therefore, article 4 of Law 3500/2006 will form the basis of the campaign, which will be launched by the Greek Network in order to sensitize citizens on the need to abolish the practice of using corporal punishment of children as a means of discipline.

2007

January: The new law came into force on 24 January 2007.

 

Further information

  • Global Initiative country report for Greece
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