European Committee of Social Rights: Belgium

2011

(January 2012, Conclusions 2011)

"The report, again, describes the legislation concerning the respect for moral, physical and psychological integrity of a child which is reflected in the Constitution as well as the Civil Code. The Committee notes from the report of the Governmental Committee to the Committee of Ministers (TS-G (2005) para 24) that the absence of legislation explicitly banning corporal punishment of children does not mean that it is authorised in the Belgian law or is not taken into account. In practice, as the Belgian courts have clearly demonstrated, current legislation undoubtedly applies to corporal punishment.

"According to Decree of 13 July 1994 of the Flemish Community, stipulates that all corporal punishment (correction) and physical violence is banned in the institutions. Decree of 7 may 2004 stipulates that corporal punishment is forbidden in the structures for assistance to the youth. The Committee notes that the legislation that would ban corporal punishment in the home is still missing in the Flemish Community.

"The Committee notes from another source that Belgium has not taken the necessary measures to ensure that corporal punishment in the family and in non-institutional childcare settings is explicitly prohibited by law. It further notes from another source that corporal punishment is unlawful in schools under case law relating to provisions against assault in the Criminal Code, but there is no explicit prohibition in legislation. Corporal punishment is lawful in the home.

"The Committee considers that the situation which it has previously found not to be in conformity on this ground has not changed. Therefore, it reiterates its previous conclusion of non-conformity.

"The Committee concludes that the situation in Belgium is not in conformity with Article 17§1 of the Revised Charter on the following grounds:

- corporal punishment is not prohibited in the home and in childcare institutions in all communities of Belgium…."

Read more from 2011

2007

(2007, Conclusions XVIII-1, vol.1)

"The Committee recalls that the situation, which was found not to be in conformity with the Charter in both the previous conclusion and in its decision on the merits of the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) v Belgium (complaint No. 21/2003 decision on the merit, 7 September 2004), has not changed. Since then the Committee clarified that in order ‘to comply with Article 17, states’ domestic law must prohibit and penalise all forms of violence against children, that is acts or behaviour likely to affect the physical integrity, dignity, development or psychological well being of children. The relevant provisions must be sufficiently clear, binding and precise, so as to preclude the courts from refusing to apply them to violence against children. Moreover, states must act with due diligence to ensure that such violence is eliminated in practice’ (World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) v Portugal, complaint No. 34/2006, decision on the merits of 5 December 2006, §§19-21). The Committee concludes that Belgium is not in conformity with Article 17 on the ground that domestic law does not fulfill the conditions set above as far as corporal punishment of children is concerned....

"The Committee concludes that the situation in Belgium is not in conformity with Article 17§1 of the Revised Charter on the ground that domestic law does not penalize all form of violence against children in the family."

Read more from 2007

2005

(July 2005, Conclusions XVII-2)

"The Committee furthermore recalls that corporal punishment is unlawful in schools and that by Decision of the Flemish Government regarding youth care of 1994 (Besluit van de Vlaamse regering inzake de erkenningsvoorwaarden en de subsidienormen voor de voorzieningen van de bijzondere jeugbijstand), corporal punishment is prohibited in institutional care. It asks whether such a regulation exists for the French Communities.

"The Committee recalls that Article 17 requires a prohibition in legislation against any form of violence against children, whether at school, in other institutions, in their home or elsewhere. It considers that this prohibition in legislation must be combined with adequate sanctions in penal or civil law.

"In this regard, the Committee recalls its decision on the merits in World Organisation against Torture (‘OMCT’) v. Belgium (Collective Complaint No. 21/2003, decision on the merits, 7 December 2004), in which it found that Belgium was in violation of Article 17 of the Charter since there was no prohibition in legislation of corporal punishment of children within the family. The Committee notes that the situation has not been remedied.

"The Committee concludes that the situation in Belgium is not in conformity with Article 17 of the Charter on the ground that there is no prohibition in legislation of all corporal punishment of children within the family."

Read more from 2005

2001

(1 January 2001, Conclusions XV-2 vol. 1, pages 109-112)

"The Committee observes from Summary Record on the 226th meeting of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child that corporal punishment is unlawful in schools in Belgium. There is however no prohibition of corporal punishment of children within the family. The Committee observes that the United Nations Committee encourages Belgium to reform its legislation with a view to ensuring the prohibition of corporal punishment within the family. This would be in line with the relevant provision in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

"Referring to its general observation with respect to Article 17, the Committee asks the Government whether Belgian legislation contains a prohibition against corporal punishment exercised within the family and in institutions other than schools….

"The Committee defers its conclusion pending an answer to the questions asked about the extent to which legislation in Belgian prohibits the corporal punishment of children."

Read more from 2001
This is an automatic translation service. Extracts from laws, treaty body recommendations and Universal Periodic Review outcomes are unofficial translations.