UN Child Rights Committee publishes findings on Germany, Kuwait, North Macedonia, Philippines, South Sudan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Viet Nam

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The UN Child Rights Committee (CRC) today issued its findings on Germany, Kuwait, North Macedonia, the Philippines, South Sudan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Viet Nam after reviewing the eight States parties during its latest session.

The findings contain the Committee’s main concerns and recommendations on the implementation of the Child Rights Convention as well as positive aspects. Key highlights include:

Germany

Concerning the high prevalence of violence against children, including sexual exploitation and online violence, the Committee recommended that Germany strengthen measures to ensure child victims or witnesses of violence have prompt access to child-friendly and multi-sectoral interventions and support. It also asked Germany to develop a comprehensive national strategy for preventing and combating all violence against children, including neglect, sexual exploitation, online violence, emotional violence and bullying.

The Committee commended Germany for hosting a large number of asylum-seeking children from Ukraine. It, however, expressed concerns about the lengthy stays of some asylum-seeking and refugee children in reception centres and collective accommodation facilities. The Committee called on Germany to ensure that reception centres are child-friendly, prioritise the immediate transfer of asylum-seeking and refugee children from reception centres, and guarantee prompt access to education and necessary support.

Kuwait

Noting that non-Kuwaiti nationals and stateless children make up approximately half of the child population in Kuwait, the Committee remained extremely concerned that this group of children suffers from widespread discrimination in access to essential social services and is the target of hate speech. It asked Kuwait to pay special attention to the situation of girls, children who do not hold Kuwaiti nationality, and stateless persons, to ensure that all children enjoy their rights under the Convention on an equal basis.

With regard to Kuwait’s failure to review its legislation to remove discriminatory provisions and grant Kuwaiti women the right to pass on their nationality to their children, the Committee asked the State party to set a clear timeframe to review the 1959 Nationality Act to remove discriminatory provisions and ensure that all revisions are in line with the best interests of the child.

North Macedonia

The Committee was concerned about the lack of coordinated protocols and cooperation among relevant institutions to prevent and respond to all violence against children, including physical and sexual abuse in the family. It recommended that North Macedonia implement a mandatory reporting system and adopt a child-friendly and multi-agency approach to investigate all violence against children, including neglect, sexual abuse and violence in the digital environment.

The Committee also expressed concern about the lack of resources to move forward with its plan to deinstitutionalise children with disabilities and remove them from their extended stay in Small Group Homes and Day Care Centres. It requested that North Macedonia increase financial and human resources to accelerate the deinstitutionalisation and increase family and community-based care and support.

The Philippines

The Committee was extremely disturbed by the killing and maiming, recruitment and use of children by armed forces, sexual violence and detention of children and attacks on schools and hospitals in conflict areas, particularly in Mindanao. The Committee urged the Philippines to take all necessary measures to prevent grave violations against children, thoroughly investigate all such allegations and bring the perpetrators to justice.

The Committee was seriously concerned that the large number of children, particularly Muslim, indigenous children, children of Indonesian and Japanese decent and Filipino children of overseas migrant workers, remain unregistered, which may lead to statelessness and deprivation of the right to a name and nationality and access to basic services. It urged the State party to promptly establish an efficient, accessible and free birth registration system and to ensure statelessness is prevented.

South Sudan

The Committee was alarmed by the continued recruitment and use of children in armed conflict in South Sudan, citing that the UN had verified the recruitment and use of 129 children in 2021, 30 per cent of whom had been recruited under the age of 15. It urged South Sudan to investigate all cases of child recruitment by armed forces, hold perpetrators to account, and ensure that victims are provided with remedies.

Concerning the high malnutrition rate due to acute food insecurity resulting from climate change and exacerbated by armed conflict, the Committee requested that South Sudan negotiate safe corridors with all parties to the conflict to allow the unhindered and rapid delivery of humanitarian aid, especially food and medicines, to all children as a matter of priority.

Ukraine

While welcoming the extraordinary measures taken by Ukraine to protect child rights since the start of the armed attack by the Russian Federation, the Committee however was concerned that a large number of children were in institutions before the Russian armed attack, and many still remain in institutions that are understaffed and in poor conditions to this day. The Committee recommended that Ukraine intensify its deinstitutionalisation processes and facilitate family-based care for children, including children who were internally displaced and sought asylum abroad. It also asked the State party to strengthen its foster care system for children who cannot stay with their families.

The Committee was seriously concerned that children in Ukraine, especially those with pre-existing mental health conditions, are at risk of immediate and long-term mental disorders, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, and anxiety, resulting from the Russian armed attack. The Committee urged the State party and countries that host Ukrainian refugees to prioritise and fund programmes to protect children’s mental health and that of their caregivers.

Uzbekistan

With regard to the fact that children, especially those below ten years of age, are rarely heard in judicial proceedings, the Committee recommended that Uzbekistan ensure the enforcement of the legislation and regulations recognising the right of all children to be heard in judicial proceedings, including in civil and alternative care proceedings. It also asked the State party to establish child-friendly legal procedures and spaces where children feel safe to express their views.

The Committee remained concerned about the large number of children deprived of a family environment, including an increasing percentage of children under the age of three.  It requested that Uzbekistan take measures to ensure that poverty, disability or divorce are never the sole justification for family separation, and that children are separated from their family only when it is in their best interests after a comprehensive assessment, and that children under three are exclusively cared for in a family environment.

Viet Nam

While noting the adoption of the relevant law on children and the strategy for ethnic affairs 2021-2030, the Committee expressed concerns about the persistent disparities in the enjoyment of rights by children in vulnerable situations. It called upon Viet Nam to address disparities in access to all public services by girls, children with disabilities, LGBT children, children living in poverty, children belonging to an ethnic or religious minority or indigenous groups, and migrant children. It also asked Viet Nam to ensure that all children have access to household registration.

The Committee raised concerns about the high level of sexual exploitation and abuse of children, including through online sexual abuse material and prostitution, as well as the significant underreporting and investigation of such cases. It urged Viet Nam to amend relevant legislation to protect all boys and girls, including those aged 16 and 17, from all forms of violence, including sexual abuse and exploitation, trafficking and child sexual abuse material. It also asked the State party to ensure that all violence cases are effectively investigated.

Source: OHCHR