European Committee of Social Rights: France

2011

(January 2012, Conclusions 2011)

"In its previous conclusion (Conclusions 2005) the Committee held that the situation was not in conformity with the Charter as all forms of corporal punishment of children were not prohibited. In this connection the Committee notes from the report of the Governmental Committee to the Committee of Ministers (TS-G (2005) 25, §78) that there is no specific prohibition of corporal punishment but under the Criminal Code any act of violence is prohibited. The French authorities consider that there is no need for further legislation.

"In its previous conclusion the Committee asked what were the implications of the 2000 judicial ruling which stated that corporal punishment which is repetitive and not educational is not covered by the ‘right to correction’ for teachers and for parents. According to the report some judicial decisions in fact acknowledged the use of ‘right of correction’ by parents, teachers and educators, provided that it is harmless, moderate (spank, clothes seized, ears and hair pulled) and aims at maintaining school order and discipline. However, if the objective is to humiliate the student, if the correction causes physical damage or if it is too degrading, courts tend to convict the adult.

"The Committee notes from another source that a survey by the Union of Families in Europe (UFE) of 2,000 grandparents, parents and children found that 96% of children have been smacked; 84% of grandparents and 87% of parents have administered the corporal punishment. One in ten parents admitted to punishing their children with a ‘martinet’ (a small whip); 30% of children said they had been punished with a martinet. Corporal punishment is lawful in alternative care settings under the customary ‘right of correction’. In 2003 the Court of Cassation confirmed that nannies and babysitters have this right.

"According to the report a draft law to include the prohibition of corporal punishment, including spanking, in the Civil Code has been brought to the National Assembly in 2010. The Committee wishes to be informed about the outcome.

"The Committee recalls that to comply with Article 17 with respect to the corporal punishment of children, 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.

"The Committee holds that there has been no change to the situation which it has previously found not to be in conformity with the Charter. Therefore it reiterates its previous finding of non-conformity on this ground.…

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

- all forms of corporal punishment of children are not prohibited…."

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2005

(March 2005, Conclusions 2005)

"In the previous conclusion the Committee noted that the Penal Code prohibits violence against the person and provides for increased penalties where the victim is under 15 years of age or where the perpetrator is related to the child or has authority over the child, but does not necessarily cover all forms of corporal punishment which it found not to be in conformity with the Revised Charter. The Committee finds no information in the report that the situation has changed. The Committee notes therefore that corporal punishment is not prohibited in the home or in institutions and other childcare settings and that this situation is not in conformity with the Revised Charter. 

"The Committee notes from another source that High Court ruling of 1889 allowed a ‘right to correction’ for teachers and for parents. A 2000 judicial ruling stated that corporal punishment which is repetitive and not educational is not covered by this right. The Committee asks the next report to explain the implications of the 2000 judicial ruling with regard to the use of corporal punishment in the home.

"The Committee concludes that the situation in France is not in conformity with Article 17.1 of the Revised Charter on the grounds that:

- corporal punishment of children is not prohibited…."

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2003

(1 October 2003, Conclusions 2003 Vol. 1, page 173)

"As regards corporal punishment of children, the Committee notes that according to the report corporal punishment of children is not explicitly prohibited in the home, in school or in other institutions. Although the Penal Code prohibits violence against the person and provides for increased penalties where the victim is under 15 years of age or where the perpetrator is related to the child or has authority over the child. The Committee notes that these provisions of the Penal Code do not necessarily cover all forms of corporal punishment and therefore finds that the situation is not in conformity with the Revised Charter….

"The Committee concludes that the situation in France is not in conformity with Article 17.1 of the Revised Charter as the corporal punishment of children is not prohibited."

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2001

(1 January 2001, Conclusions XV-2 vol. 1, pages 220-225)

"The Committee wishes to know whether legislation prohibits all forms of corporal punishment of children, in schools, in institutions, in the home and elsewhere…."

Read more from 2001
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