BAHAMAS: Persistent violations of children's rights

Summary: The violations highlighted are those issues raised with the State by more than one international mechanism. This is done with the intention of identifying children's rights which have been repeatedly violated, as well as gaps in the issues covered by NGOs in their alternative reports to the various human rights monitoring bodies. These violations are listed in no particular order.

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Corporal punishment

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, March 2005)

The Committee expresses its concern at the fact that corporal punishment is still widely practised in the family, in schools, and in institutions, and that domestic legislation does not explicitly prohibit its use.

The Committee recommends that the State party:

(a) Expressly prohibit corporal punishment by law in the family, schools and other institutions;

(b) Conduct awareness-raising campaigns to ensure that alternative forms of discipline are administrated in a manner consistent with the child's human dignity and in conformity with the Convention, especially article 28, paragraph 2. (Paragraphs 35 and 36)

Universal Periodic Review (December 2008)

54.5. To eliminate corporal punishment from Bahamas legislation in accordance with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Chile); to continue, as a matter of priority, efforts to prohibit corporal punishment, of children as well as of adults, and to allocate necessary resources to allow the full implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (Sweden); to put en end to corporal punishment in schools and in the home, and to revise article 1.10 of the Criminal Code (Haiti); (rejected)

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Child abuse, neglect and violence against children

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, March 2005)

The Committee notes the efforts made by the State party, including programmes and activities to sensitise parents to child abuse, such as parenting workshops and the Child Abuse Prevention Month. The Committee also notes the appointment of the National Child Protection Council and the establishment of a National Child Abuse Hotline at the Department of Social Services in 1997. However, the Committee is concerned that this service is underused by the public.

The Committee recommends that the State party take the necessary measures to prevent child abuse, neglect and violence in and outside the family, inter alia, by:

(a) Undertaking a comprehensive study on the scope and nature of child abuse and neglect;

(b) Developing an effective reporting system with timely and adequate investigations and child-sensitive protection in order to bring perpetrators to justice;

(c) Ensuring that victims of violence have access to counselling, and assistance with recovery and reintegration;

(d) Strengthening further the capacity and role of the National Child Protection Council;

(e) Conducting awareness-raising campaigns to publicise the National Child Abuse Hotline. (Paragraphs 43 and 44)

Universal Periodic Review (December 2008)

52.7. To consider specifically with regard to the prevention of physical abuse of children the implementation of the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (Netherlands); to take necessary measures, as recommended by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, to prevent child abuse and neglect and increase efforts to ensure the registration of all children at birth (Italy); to undertake a comprehensive study on child abuse in order to understand its scope and to suggest ways to prevent it (Canada, Australia); to take the necessary measures to implement article 23 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Argentina). (accepted)

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Sexual exploitation of children

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, March 2005)

The Committee notes the results of the Rapid Assessment, completed by ILO in 2002, of the situation of children engaged in the worst forms of child labour in the State party and expresses its concern at the number of children involved in prostitution and child pornography. The Committee is also concerned at the lack of specific data on this issue and of targeted measures to address it.

The Committee recommends that the State party:

(a) Undertake a comprehensive study on children involved in the commercial sex industry and use the data to design policies and programmes to prevent commercial sexual exploitation of children, including through the development of a National Plan of Action on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, as agreed at the First and Second World Congresses against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, held in 1996 and 2001;

(b) Adopt adequate measures to combat child pornography;

(c) Strengthen recovery and reintegration programmes for the victims;

(d) Train law enforcement officials, social workers and prosecutors on how to receive, monitor, investigate and prosecute cases of sexual exploitation in a child-sensitive manner that respects the privacy of the victim. (Paragraphs 57 and 58)

Universal Periodic Review (December 2008)

54. 3. To consider undertaking studies on children involved in the commercial sex industry, factors luring or compelling them to engage in such crimes, and to take appropriate action (Bangladesh);

54. 4. To focus more efforts on combating child prostitution and pornography and in aiding its victims in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (Canada);

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Low minimum age of criminal responsibility

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, March 2005)

While recognising the efforts made by the State party in this domain, the Committee remains concerned at the incompatibility of the juvenile justice system with the provisions and principles of the Convention. It is especially concerned at the fact that the age of criminal responsibility, fixed at 10 years, is too low.

The Committee recommends that the State party:

(a) Raise the age of criminal responsibility to an internationally acceptable level; (Paragraphs 59 and 60)

Universal Periodic Review (December 2008)

53.6. To increase the age of criminal responsibility of children (Czech Republic); (pending)

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Lack of an independent human rights monitoring system

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, March 2005)

The Committee is concerned at the absence of an independent mechanism with a mandate to regularly monitor and evaluate progress in the implementation of the Convention and which is empowered to receive and address individual complaints.

In view of the Committee's general comment No. 2 (2002) on the role of independent national human rights institutions in the promotion and protection of the rights of the child (CRC/GC/2002/2), the Committee encourages the State party to develop and establish an independent and effective mechanism in accordance with the Principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (Paris Principles) (General Assembly resolution 48/134 of 20 December 1993, annex). This institution should be provided with adequate human and financial resources, easily accessible to children; deal with complaints from children in a child-sensitive and expeditious manner; and provide remedies for violations of their rights under the Convention. (Paragraphs 16 and 17)

Universal Periodic Review (December 2008)

53. 1. To establish an independent body for the promotion and protection of human rights in conformity with the Paris Principles (Algeria); to establish a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles (Australia), as recommended by the Committee on the Rights of the Child (Germany, Canada), that is adequately resourced, child-sensitive and able to provide remedies in a timely manner (Canada); (accepted)

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Gaps in the registration of births

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, March 2005)

The Committee is concerned that, although parents are required by law to register the birth of their children, the number of children who are not registered at birth is significant mainly due to the geographical features of the country.

In the light of article 7 of the Convention, the Committee urges the State party to increase its efforts to ensure the registration of all children at birth by conducting awareness-raising campaigns and establishing mobile registration units in remote and less populated islands. The Committee also recommends that children without birth registration certificates be given access to social services. (Paragraphs 33 and 34)

Universal Periodic Review (December 2008)

52.7. to take necessary measures, as recommended by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, to prevent child abuse and neglect and increase efforts to ensure the registration of all children at birth (Italy); (accepted)

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Countries

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