GUINEA-BISSAU: Children's Rights References in the Universal Periodic Review

Summary: A compilation of extracts featuring child-rights issues from the reports submitted to the first Universal Periodic Review. There are extracts from the 'National Report', the 'Compilation of UN Information' and the 'Summary of Stakeholder's Information'. Also included is the final report and the list of accepted and rejected recommendations.

National Report

II. Normative and institutional human rights framework
There are a number of independent administrative institutions for the promotion of human rights, amonst others the Institute for Women and children.

III. Promotion and protection of human rights on the ground
B. Protection of women's and children's rights
-Children's and women's rights depend upon education and awareness-raising of those who could infringe upon their rights
-58 % of boys are enrolled in primary school while the figure is 55.9  % for girls;
Early marriage is a big problem with 10 % of married girls and women being under 15 years old in the north. In Bissau the figure is 5.8 %, 5.7 % in the East and 4.8 % in the South. This practice leads to early drop-outs from school, early sex and early pregnancies, endangering girl's health and chances of success
-The Ministry for Women is having a campaign against female genital mutilation. However, 44.5 % of girls and women from 15-49 are excised. The excision used to take place at the age of 7 years, but there is not a reliable information on this. Now that the practice is outlawed, some families practice excision right after birth.
-Concerning child rights more generally, Guinea-Bissau has introduced legislative reform. It created a national children's parliament to encourage child participation. With the help of UNICEF, the practice of establishing birth certificates has been improved. At regional courts, there are special sections for families and minors. However, there are still heavy problems with sexual violence, child trafficking, FGM, lack of medication, deteriorated sanitary and education infrastructure, a weak level of education, early marriage and a high rate of infant mortalty at 65 %.

Human trafficking
-Human trafficking is a worsening problem. Until now, there was no specific policy towards child trafficking, as this was not frequent. However, recent informations show cases of child trafficking affecting especially Talibé children: 43 cases in 2006/2007, 43 cases in 2008, and 79 cases in 2009

Social and economic rights
4. Right to a family
In law, parents have both the same rights and obligations concerning education and care for children. Children from other progenitors have equal legal status than a person's own child.

5. Right to health
There is a roadmap for the reduction of maternal an neonatal mortality. The causes for the 65 % of infant mortality can be decomposed into malaria (35 %), diarrhea (15 %) and acure respiratory failure (15 %)

6. Right to education and culture
Education is a constitutional right. The state ensures progressively the gratuity of education. Primary education is free of charge and mandatory. There are some documents meant to ensure a good standard of education. Enrolment rates for 2003/2007 were 58 % for boys and 55.9 % for girls.

10. Access to justice
Judicial reform is under way to revise legislation concerning genital mutilation, protection of minors

VIII. Difficultés et priorités
Child trafficking, FGM, infant mortality

UN Compilation

12. In 2002, the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was concerned, inter alia that the rights of children with disabilities were very poorly respected and that societal discrimination was prevalent against them. 29 It recommended that Guinea-Bissau should develop or amend legislation to ensure that discrimination on the grounds of disability is prohibited and that children with disabilities have access to public transportation and public buildings, including all schools and hospitals; ensure the implementation of all legislative measures of protection for children with disabilities, in particular with regard to non-discrimination, giving attention to practices such as the killing of newborn children with disabilities; significantly strengthen assistance to children with disabilities and ensure, inter alia, that they have access to health, educational and professional facilities; review the recommendations made at the First National Conference on Disabled People and implement those recommendations which remained valid; revive services established to assist persons with disabilities in the past, but which are no longer functioning, or functioning only in part. 30

17. The Secretary-General reported that during visits in detention centres on 7 October 2008, UNOGBIS verified several human rights violations, namely: inadequate facilities and lack of minimum living standards; lack of water and food in the detention centres of the Segunda Esquadra police station; detention of women and men jointly in the same cells without respecting their specific needs; detention of children jointly with adults; lack of medical assistance; and lack of rehabilitation programmes and social assistance. Following the visits, several recommendations were made, including the creation and promotion of weekly medical assistance for detainees in all prison facilities; the establishment of additional centres and specific security measures for children and adolescents, as well as special detention facilities for women; the adoption of mechanisms for the provision of water and food in the prison centres of the judicial police and the Segunda Esquadra police station; and the closure of the underground detention cells of the Primeira and Segunda Esquadra police stations in Bissau.

19. In 2008, the Secretary-General reported that child trafficking remained an issue of major concern. He also reported that border police, key child-protection organizations and community leaders have being trained, with support from UNICEF, on specific tools to prevent such trafficking. He added that relations between international and local child rights defenders and the Islamic Council of Guinea-Bissau were tense, the latter disagreeing with the use of the term “trafficking” and arguing that the travel of talibé children to another country occurs on religious grounds. 40

20. In a 2009 UNICEF report, it was highlighted that the recent increase of drug trafficking through the country puts children and adolescents particularly at risk. 41 In 2009, the ILO Committee of Experts requested that the Government indicate the measures adopted or envisaged to combat trafficking, whether the victims are children or adults, and to specify the difficulties encountered by the public authorities in arresting and punishing those responsible for any removal of persons with a view to exploiting their labour or for their sexual exploitation.

21. In 2002, CRC was concerned that, with regard to “the judicial level of services”, legislation was insufficient and ineffective and the judicial system lacked courts and trained staff to deal with juveniles in conflict with the law. 43 It recommended that Guinea-Bissau, inter alia, amend and/or adopt and implement legislation providing for the full application of the juvenile justice infrastructure and system, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention and other international standards. 44

29. In 2007, the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, indicated that Guinea-Bissau still had national marriage legislation whereby one (generally the female) or both parties may be married before the age of 18, with parental/guardian consent, or with the consent of a public authority after suitability for marriage has been determined. 60

41. A 2009 UNICEF report highlighted results from the latest Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 2006) indicating an infant mortality rate of 138 deaths per 1,000 live births, under-five mortality rate of 223 per 1,000 live births and maternal mortality ratio of 1,100 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Malaria, acute respiratory infections, diarrhoea and malnutrition remain the main causes of death of children. 79 In 2009, UNHCR highlighted that, regarding the access to public health care, refugees are accorded equal treatment with nationals. 80 Also in 2009, CEDAW urged Guinea-Bissau, inter alia, to take steps to improve the country’s health infrastructure, especially in rural areas; reduce the incidence of maternal mortality and early pregnancy; and improve availability of sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning information and services and sex education, as well as access to antenatal, post-natal and obstetric services to reduce maternal mortality. 81

48. In 2002, CRC noted with concern that a series of factors seriously impeded the implementation of children’s rights, notably in the areas of health and education. It noted, in particular, that the armed conflict in 1998/1999 had had a very damaging impact on the infrastructure, including upon education and health services. CRC recognized the poor economic conditions in the country, the weight of its external debt and that a large proportion of the population lived in poverty and the country ranked very low on the Human Development Index. Finally, CRC noted the low literacy level among the population in general and the burden of longstanding traditions some of which hindered the Convention’s implementation. 94

Stakeholder Compilation

7. The Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children (GIEACPC) indicated that corporal punishment is lawful in the home. While it is unlawful in schools and in the penal system, GIEACPC reported that details on applicable legislation were lacking. GIEACPC has been unable to ascertain the legality of corporal punishment in alternative care settings. It recommended the introduction of legislation as a matter of urgency to prohibit all corporal punishment of children in the family home and all other settings.

22. LGDH/MNSCPDD add that the infant mortality rate is very high and that malaria is the leading cause of death for children aged under 5.34 LGDH/MNSCPDD also indicate that over 80 per cent of medicines sold in pharmacies are of poor quality.

24. LGDH/MNSCPDD note that the right to education is laid down in the Constitution, but that it can only be implemented once the minimum conditions are in place to adapt the education system to the reality on the ground, in quantitative and qualitative terms. LGDH/MNSCPDD also mention the lack of information and guidance on schools. According to LGDH/MNSCPPD, the low school enrolment rate in primary education can be explained by the shortage of teachers and low staff morale, inadequate school facilities, the shortage of teaching materials and the long distances pupils must travel to school.

25. LGDH/MNSCPDD add that access to preschool education is guaranteed for only 19 per cent of children aged 3 to 6. For children under 3, there are only private ventures but no public services. 41 Similarly, higher education cannot meet the demand for places. In addition, LGDH/MNSCPDD indicate that obtaining a scholarship to study abroad is conditional upon links with the ruling party.

26. Furthermore, LGDH/MNSCPDD note that low salaries and the shortage of housing add to the difficulties faced by the education sector by making it difficult to recruit qualified teachers, particularly in remote areas. According to LGDH/MNSCPDD, only 10 per cent of teachers have teaching qualifications and many have chosen to work abroad. In addition, 97 per cent of the budget for education is used to pay teachers, while 99 per cent of investments in the education sector depend on external funding.

Accepted and Rejected Recommendations

The following recommendations were accepted by Guinea-Bissau:

65. A - 65.4. Ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Optional Protocol thereto, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Optional Protocol thereto, and the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child; sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto (Spain);

A - 65.8. Become party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the two Optional Protocols thereto; the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the Convention against Torture and the Optional Protocol thereto; the Optional Protocols to theConvention on the Rights of the Child; the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto; and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (Argentina);

A - 65.15. Amend and/or adopt and implement legislation providing for the full application of the juvenile justice infrastructure and system, in accordance with the provisions of CRC and other international standards (Germany);

A - 65.25. Adopt sectoral plans for the promotion of human rights in order to promote the human rights of vulnerable groups such as women, children and persons with disabilities (Algeria);

A - 65.26. Consider reviewing strategies aimed at the protection of children, with a view to developing a comprehensive plan for the care of children, and to aligning them with the provisions of CRC and all applicable international human rights instruments to which Guinea-Bissau is party (South Africa);

A - 65.49. Ensure that the rights of children with disabilities are respected, and take into account, inter alia, the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (Netherlands);

A - 65.51. Strengthen its national machinery for the protection and advancement of women and girls (Bangladesh);

A - 65.52. Enhance international cooperation programmes aimed at promoting gender equality and combating trafficking in women and children (Philippines);

A - 65.59. Follow up on and implement the recommendations made by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, in particular those referring to the adoption of legislation and policies to eliminate violence against women, female genital mutilation and child marriage (Mexico);

A - 65.65. Strengthen the fight against child trafficking, female genital mutilation, maternal mortality, drug trafficking and lack of security (Senegal);

A - 65.66. Combat all forms of trafficking of children, and formulate a policy of child protection to ensure a better system for safeguarding children's rights (France);

A - 65.67. Devise and implement plans for combating trafficking in women and children (Egypt);

A - 65.72. Develop comprehensive strategies and public awareness campaigns to address trafficking in persons, in particular children for the purpose of forced begging in neighbouring countries (United States);

A - 65.73. Redouble efforts to combat scourges leading to violations of children's rights as listed in paragraph 38 of the national report (Morocco);

A - 65.86. Intensify its efforts to humanize its penal system, with special focus placed on the separation of female and juvenile inmates (Slovakia);

A - 65.93. Continue to implement programmes and measures to guarantee quality health services and quality education free of charge (Cuba);

A - 65.94. Make all possible efforts to combat HIV/AIDS and to prevent the mother-to-child transmission of the virus, and request technical and financial assistance from international agencies, including WHO and UNICEF (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya);

A - 65.95. Noting that, owing to malaria, acute respiratory tract infections and malnutrition, child mortality is relatively high, call on the international community to provide assistance in reducing child mortality rates (China);

A - 65.99. Take appropriate measures to fight illiteracy, ensure equal opportunities for women and men in the labour market, and provide for participation in political and public life and equal access to justice (Slovenia); (unsure)

A - 65.100. Continue to promote school attendance for girls (Senegal); and

A - 65.101. Continue to promote human rights education and training at all levels of the education system (Philippines).

The following recommendations were rejected by Guinea-Bissau:

67. R - 67.3. Repeal or amend legislation that discriminates against disabled person and children, with a focus on eradicating the practice of killing newborn children with disabilities, preventing violence at the hands of family members and society in general, and ensuring equal access to all public transportation and buildings (Israel);

R - 67.4. Intensify efforts to improve the human rights of women, and take measures to combat harmful traditional practices under customary law, such as early and forced marriage, trafficking, polygamy and levirate marriage (Norway); (unsure)

No recommendations are pending by Guinea-Bissau



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