COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 44 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations: China (including Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions)
1.The Committee considered the second periodic of China (CRC/C/83/Add.9, Parts I and II), submitted on 27 June 2003, at its 1062nd to 1065th meetings (see CRC/C/SR.1062‑1065), held on 19 and 20 September 2005, and adopted, at the 1080th meeting (CRC/C/SR.1080), held on 30 September 2005, the following concluding observations.
2.The Committee welcomes the submission of the State party’s comprehensive and informative periodic report which consisted of three parts covering the mainland and Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions (SARs), as well as the detailed written replies to its list of issues (CRC/C/Q/CHN/2 and Parts I and II), which gave a clearer understanding of the situation of children in the State party. It further notes with appreciation the large high‑level, multisectoral delegation from the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions.
B. Follow‑up measures undertaken and progress achieved by the State party
3.The Committee notes with appreciation the impressive achievements made in reducing poverty, which enabled it to attain some of the key Millennium Development Goals ahead of schedule.
4.The Committee welcomes the ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 2001.
GE.05‑45139 (E) 081205
5.The Committee welcomes the State party’s ratification of the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (No. 33) on 16 September 2005.
C. Principal subjects of concern and recommendations
1. General measures of implementation
Committee’s previous recommendations
6.The Committee notes with appreciation that various concerns and recommendations (see CRC/C/15/Add.56 and CRC/C/15/Add.63 with respect to Hong Kong) made upon the consideration of the State party’s initial reports (CRC/C/11/Add.7 and CRC/C/11/Add.9 with regard to Hong Kong as a Dependent Territory of the United Kingdom) have been addressed through legislative measures and policies. However, some of the concerns it expressed and the recommendations made have not been sufficiently addressed. For instance:
(a)With respect to the mainland, the Committee is concerned that there has been limited progress related to recommendations concerning the establishment of a national human rights institution (CRC/C/15/Add.56, para. 26) and non‑discrimination (ibid., paras. 34 and 35);
(b)With respect to the Hong Kong SAR, the Committee takes note of the State party’s explanation that the Committee’s previous recommendations on coordination and assessment (CRC/C/15/Add.63, para. 20) were not considered practical. Nevertheless, the Committee remains of the opinion that national legislation and policy must take a holistic and comprehensive approach to the implementation of the Convention, which requires that priority be given to children’s issues, that such policy be actively coordinated and that assessments be made regarding the potential impact of policy decisions on children.
7. The Committee urges the State party to make every effort to address the recommendations contained in the concluding observations on the initial reports that have not yet been implemented, and to address the list of concerns contained in the present concluding observations on the second periodic report.
Reservations and declarations
8.The Committee welcomes the withdrawal of the State party’s reservation to article 22 as applied to the Hong Kong SAR. However, it regrets the fact that reservations remain with regard to article 6 and are applied to the entire State party, and that for the Hong Kong and Macau SARs reservations with respect to articles 32 and 37 (c) remain in force.
9. The Committee recommends that the State party review and withdraw all reservations to the Convention for all areas under its jurisdiction.
10.While welcoming the significant progress made with respect to legislative reform in mainland China, the Committee is concerned that not all laws applicable to children fully conform to the Convention.
11. The Committee recommends that with respect to the mainland, the State party continue to review legislation to ensure that it conforms fully with the principles and provisions of the Convention, as highlighted in paragraphs 33, 40, 45, 48, 53, 82, 93 and 94 of the present concluding observations, and paragraphs 11 and 13 of the Committee’s concluding observations on the initial report under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (CRC/OPSA/CO/2).
Coordination and National Plan of Action
12.The Committee notes with appreciation the elaboration of a second National Plan of Action, the National Children’s Development Programme (2001‑2010), for the mainland, and also takes note of the growing number of committees and working groups at the State, regional and provincial levels to monitor and implement child rights. However, it is concerned that coordination is fragmented and that the Programme is not implemented uniformly across all regions and localities on the mainland and that coordination of implementation at local and regional levels is sometimes insufficient.
13.As noted above in paragraph 6 (b), the Committee is concerned at the lack of a comprehensive plan of action for the implementation of the Convention in the Hong Kong SAR and that the coordination of existing programmes and policies is rather sectoral and fragmented. The Committee notes the information provided by the delegates from the Macau SAR that a comprehensive plan of action is under discussion.
14. The Committee recommends that on the mainland, the State party further strengthen coordination between the bodies and institutions working on the implementation of the National Children’s Development Programme (2001 ‑2010) at all levels in order to ensure uniform implementation in all regions and provinces.
15. The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation that in the Hong Kong SAR, the State party should improve coordination of its activities on the implementation of the Convention by developing and implementing a plan of action for the Hong Kong SAR. The Committee recommends that in the Macau SAR, the State party expedite its discussions in this regard and elaborate and implement a comprehensive plan of action for the Macau SAR.
16.The Committee notes the information that various ministries on the mainland may receive complaints from the public, but it is concerned at the lack of an independent national human rights institution with a clear mandate to monitor the implementation of the Convention. It similarly regrets the absence of an independent national human rights institution with a specific mandate for child rights on the mainland and the Hong Kong and Macau SARs.
17. The Committee recommends that the State party establish, on the mainland and the Hong Kong and Macau SARs, national human rights institutions with a clear mandate to monitor children’s rights and implement the Convention at national, regional and local levels in accordance with the Principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (the Paris Principles) annexed to General Assembly resolution 48/134 of 20 December 1993. Drawing the State party’s attention to the Committee’s general comment No. 2 (2002) on the role of independent national human rights institutions, the Committee notes that such institutions should have a mandate to receive, investigate and address complaints from the public, including individual children, and be provided with adequate financial, human and material resources. In the case of the Hong Kong SAR, such an institution could be a specialized branch of the existing Ombudsman’s Office.
Allocation of resources
18.The Committee commends the State party for the significant increases in budgetary resources allocated, on the mainland, to compulsory education, maternal and child health care, social relief and to anti‑trafficking programmes in recent years, but remains concerned that some crucial areas, such as education, continue to be underfunded. While it notes the significant resources allocated to the development of poorer regions, it remains concerned that those resources do not adequately target the most vulnerable groups.
19.The Committee is concerned that in the Hong Kong SAR insufficient resources are allocated to reduce poverty and that income disparities are increasing within the population. It is concerned that social welfare schemes, which were reduced as a result of the economic hardship of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, have not been readjusted as the economy has regained its momentum.
20. The Committee recommends that on the mainland, the State party ensure that its budgetary allocations to key areas for children, in particular health and education, keep pace with increases in government revenue. It further recommends that the State party develop an adequate monitoring system to ensure that budgetary allocations effectively reach the most vulnerable groups and reduce regional disparities, in particular between rural and urban areas and eastern and western provinces.
21. The Committee recommends that in the Hong Kong SAR, budgetary allocations be targeted towards reducing income disparities, including through increased funding for social safety nets. It also recommends that an adequate monitoring system be established to ensure that budgetary allocations benefit the most vulnerable populations.
22.The Committee welcomes the State party’s efforts to improve its collection of statistical data in all parts of the State party, and notes with appreciation the information provided by the delegation that a new mechanism for the collection of disaggregated data will soon be established on the mainland. However, the Committee remains concerned about the limited public accessibility to reliable and comprehensive statistical data on the mainland on all areas covered by the Convention.
23. The Committee recommends that the State party further strengthen its efforts to collect reliable and comprehensive statistical data on all areas covered by the Convention and ensure that such data are systematically made available to the public in a timely manner in all parts of the State party. It further recommends that the State party explore the possibility of developing central databanks for statistics on children for the mainland and the SARs, so as to ensure that statistical data are used for the development, implementation and monitoring of appropriate policies and programmes for children.
Dissemination of the Convention
24.The Committee notes that the Convention has been translated into the main minority languages used in the State party. However, it is concerned that professionals working with and for children, as well as children and parents themselves, have limited awareness and understanding of the Convention in the Hong Kong SAR and on the mainland.
25. The Committee recommends that the State party, in all areas under its jurisdiction:
(a) Further strengthen its efforts to disseminate the Convention in all languages, and also through the use of child ‑friendly materials and school curricula;
(b) Expand its programmes to sensitize parents and children about the Convention; and
(c)Increase its efforts to provide adequate and systematic training on children’s rights for professional groups working with and for children.
Cooperation with civil society
26.The Committee notes the information that non‑governmental organizations are becoming increasingly active in mainland China, but it is concerned that the space in which they may operate and the scope of their activities remain very limited.
27. The Committee recommends that in mainland China, the State party facilitate and encourage the independence and expansion of activities by non ‑governmental organizations, in particular those working for the promotion and protection of child rights, inter alia by ensuring their free and active involvement in the implementation of the Convention, including in the preparation of reports and the implementation of the Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations.
2. General principles
Right to life
28.The Committee notes with satisfaction the legal measures enacted to prohibit selective abortions and infanticide in mainland China. Nevertheless it remains concerned that selective abortions and infanticide as well as the abandonment of children, in particular girls and children with disabilities, continue as negative consequences of existing family planning policies and societal attitudes.
29. The Committee urges the State party to continue and strengthen its efforts to guarantee the right to life, survival and development of all children in its territory. It recommends that the State party strengthen its implementation of existing laws against selective abortions and infanticide and take all necessary measures to eliminate any negative consequences arising from family planning policies, including abandonment and non ‑registration of children and unbalanced sex ratios at birth.
30.While noting efforts by the State party to address the Committee’s previous concerns related to discrimination, it remains concerned about discrimination against certain groups on the mainland, such as girls; children infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS; children with disabilities; ethnic and religious minorities, such as Tibetan, Uighur and Hui children; and internal migrant children.
31.The Committee is concerned about the persistence of discrimination against refugee, asylum‑seeking and undocumented migrant children in the Hong Kong SAR, and the lack of legislation specifically prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race or sexual orientation. The Committee regrets the lack of available information on the practical implementation of article 2 of the Convention in the Macau SAR.
32. The Committee recommends that on the mainland the State party strengthen efforts to eliminate discrimination against girls; children infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS; children with disabilities; Tibetan, Uighur and Hui children and children belonging to other ethnic and religious minorities; internal migrant children and other vulnerable groups by:
(a)Ensuring that these children have equal access to basic services, including health, education and other social services, and that services used by these children are allocated sufficient financial and human resources;
(b) Enhancing monitoring of programmes and services implemented by local authorities with a view to identifying and eliminating disparities.
33. The Committee recommends that in the Hong Kong SAR the State party expedite its efforts to draft and adopt legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race or sexual orientation. The Committee requests that in its next periodic report specific information be included on the practical implementation of article 2 in the Macau SAR.
34. The Committee requests that specific information be included in the next periodic report on the measures and programmes relevant to the Convention on the Rights of the Child undertaken by the State party to follow up on the Declaration and Programme of Action adopted at the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and taking account of Committee’s general comment No. 1 (2001) on the aims of education.
Best interests of the child
35.The Committee is concerned about the limited information provided by the State party for all areas under its jurisdiction on how the principle of the best interests of the child is used as a primary consideration in all actions concerning children.
36. The Committee urges the State party to include in its next periodic report more detailed information on the implementation of article 3 and on how it ensures that the best interests of the child is a primary consideration in all actions concerning children.
Respect for the views of the child
37.The Committee notes with concern that in mainland China children are not able to file complaints in court or be consulted directly by the courts without parental consent, except in the case of children 16 years or older who earn their own livelihood. It regrets the limited amount of information provided on the representation of students in schools and how their views are taken into account.
38.The Committee notes with appreciation the efforts made by the State party in the Hong Kong SAR to support organizations representing children, such as the Children’s Council Working Committee. However, it remains concerned that children’s views are not sought systematically on all policies and programmes affecting them. The Committee regrets the lack of information on how the views of the child are taken into account in all settings in the Macau SAR.
39. In the light of article 12 of the Convention, the Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its efforts on the mainland and in the Hong Kong and Macau SARs to ensure that children have the right to express their views freely on all matters affecting them and to have those views given due weight in policy ‑making, administrative proceedings, schools and the home. It encourages the State party to provide more detailed information on this issue, with respect to all areas under its jurisdiction, in the next periodic report.
40. Furthermore, the Committee recommends that on the mainland the State party review legislation affecting children with a view to ensuring that they are given the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceeding affecting them, and that due weight is given to their views in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
41. The Committee recommends that in the Hong Kong SAR, the State party systematically ensure that children’s organizations participate actively in developing policies or programmes affecting them, such as the current education reform. It further encourages the State party to consider establishing a standing body to represent children’s views in the political process.
3. Civil rights and freedoms
42.The Committee notes with appreciation the significant efforts made by the State party to address the Committee’s previous concerns regarding the non‑registration of children at birth. However, it continues to be concerned that, in part because of existing family planning policies, all children are not systematically registered immediately after birth in mainland China, and that this disproportionately affects girls, children with disabilities and children born in some rural areas.
43. The Committee recommends that the State party continue to strengthen its efforts to ensure that all children, in particular girls and children with disabilities, are registered immediately after birth and to provide flexible measures to allow older children who have not been registered to do so throughout mainland China, with a particular emphasis on rural areas. It further suggests that the State party consider revising the Hukou system of registration in order to reinforce such initiatives.
Freedom of religion
44.While noting the adoption of the Regional Ethnic Autonomy Act in 2001, which guarantees freedom of religion for ethnic minorities in mainland China, the Committee is concerned about reports that children, in particular Tibetan Buddhist, Uighur and Hui children, have been restricted in studying and practising their religion, and some cases have been detained for participating in religious activities. It is also concerned at reports that children of families practising their religion, notably the Falun Gong, are subject to harassment, threats and other negative actions, including re‑education through labour. The Committee notes the information provided about the Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, but remains concerned that it has not yet been possible to have this information confirmed by an independent expert.
45. The Committee recommends that the State party take all necessary measures to ensure the full implementation of the Regional Ethnic Autonomy Act. In particular, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Enact legislation explicitly guaranteeing freedom of religion for those under 18 that is not tied to a limited number of recognized faiths, and which respects the rights and duties of parents to give guidance to their children in the exercise of their rights in this regard in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child;
(b) Repeal any ban instituted by local authorities on children of any age from participating in Tibetan religious festivals or receiving religious education;
(c) Repeal any ban instituted by local authorities on children of any age from attending mosques or receiving religious education throughout the mainland;
(d) Take all necessary measures to ensure that children may choose whether to participate in classes on religion or atheism;
(e) Allow an independent expert to visit and confirm the well ‑being of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima while respecting his right to privacy, and that of his parents.
46.The Committee is concerned that in mainland China the existing regulations banning corporal punishment in schools are unevenly implemented. It is also concerned that corporal punishment in the home is not banned and continues to be socially acceptable.
47.The Committee is concerned that corporal punishment within the family is not prohibited by law and continues to be practised in the home in the Hong Kong and Macau SARs.
48. The Committee urges the State party, in all areas under its jurisdiction:
(a) To explicitly prohibit by law corporal punishment in the family, schools, institutions and all other settings, including penal institutions;
(b) To expand public education and awareness ‑raising campaigns, with the involvement of children, on alternative non ‑violent forms of discipline in order to change public attitudes about corporal punishment.
4. Family environment and alternative care
Children deprived of family environment
49.The Committee welcomes efforts made by the State party, in particular the adoption of the Standards for Social Welfare Institutions for Children in 2001, for the mainland. However, it remains concerned at the significant number of children abandoned on the mainland and the large number of children living in institutions. It regrets the lack of precise statistical data on the number of children entering and leaving such institutions.
50.The Committee is deeply concerned that existing quotas for persons entering the Hong Kong and Macau SARs from the mainland and regulations regarding the right of abode in the SARs contribute to the separation of children from their parents and hinder family reunification.
51. The Committee recommends that in mainland China, the State party:
(a) Continue its efforts to improve alternative care for children deprived of a family by replicating and expanding successful models such as foster care and domestic adoption throughout the mainland;
(b) Develop effective strategies to prevent the abandonment of children, which include early identification of families and children at risk and the possibility for social workers to intervene and help families directly;
(c) Ensure that children, if transferred to an institution, are integrated into small groups and individually cared for in a family ‑like environment;
(d) Ensure that all forms of alternative care meet quality standards in conformity with the Convention by establishing an effective monitoring mechanism which includes a periodic review of each placement in accordance with article 25 and a complaints mechanism accessible to children, and by ensuring that all institutions, programmes and services have properly trained and accredited staff;
(e) Ensure that all deaths of children in alternative care are properly documented and investigated, and that appropriate follow ‑up actions are taken when necessary .
52.As noted in paragraph 5 above, the Committee notes with appreciation the ratification of the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (No. 33). However, the Committee regrets the inadequate information available on the number of international adoptions and the number of agencies facilitating such adoptions on the mainland. It is further concerned about the lack of explicit guarantees that children without birth certificates maintain their right to an identity throughout the adoption process.
53. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Extend the application of the 1993 Hague Convention to the Hong Kong and Macau SARs as soon as possible;
(b) Ensure that the legal provisions of the 1993 Hague Convention are incorporated into domestic legislation on the mainland and in the Hong Kong and Macau SARs;
(c) Further strengthen the monitoring of agencies facilitating international adoptions, in particular with regard to possible trafficking of children and the use of fees and donations paid by adopting parents;
(d) Enact legislative and administrative measures to ensure that all children without birth certificates are guaranteed their right to an identity throughout the adoption process;
(e)Inform government officials and other professionals working with children without parental care that adoptions, in particular international adoptions, are an exceptional alternative care option and that the principles of non‑discrimination and the best interests of the child must be taken into account when making such decisions.
Abuse and neglect, maltreatment, violence
54.The Committee is concerned about the limited information available with regard to abuse, neglect and maltreatment of children in mainland China as well as the limited number of programmes available to combat violence and provide assistance to victims.
55.While noting efforts made to increase the number of social workers in the Hong Kong SAR, the Committee is concerned that policies and programmes to assist child victims of violence are not fully effective.
56. The Committee recommends that efforts to combat abuse, neglect, violence and maltreatment be strengthened in all parts of the State party, including through mandatory reporting requirements for staff working with children, such as doctors, teachers and social workers, and the establishment of specific helplines accessible and available to children.
57. With respect to the mainland, the Committee recommends that the State party conduct further research into different forms of violence against children in the home, schools and institutions and use the findings:
(a) To strengthen existing legislation on protection of children from all forms of violence;
(b) To develop strategies and interventions to prevent and combat violence, including through school ‑based education programmes aimed at raising awareness and skills among children to address different forms of violence;
(c) To develop programmes to ensure that all child victims of violence receive appropriate assistance relating to care and recovery.
58. With respect to the Hong Kong SAR, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Define in a more explicit manner the forms of sexual abuse and increase education and training for professionals working with and for children on the identification, handling and prevention of all forms of abuse;
(b) Strengthen coordination and follow ‑up of individual cases of abuse, neglect and maltreatment and ensure that all victims of any form of abuse, and their families, have access to social services and assistance;
(c) Ensure that investigations are handled without discrimination on the basis of whether the alleged perpetrators are within or outside the family.
59. In the context of the Secretary ‑General’s in ‑depth study on the question of violence against children and the related questionnaire to Governments, the Committee acknowledges with appreciation the written replies of the State party and the participation of representatives from mainland China and the Hong Kong SAR in the Regional Consultation for East Asia and the Pacific held in Thailand from 14 to 16 June 2005. It further appreciates the organization of national ‑level consultations in Beijing on 16 and 17 May 2005. The Committee recommends that the State party use the outcome of this regional consultation as a tool for taking action, in partnership with civil society, to ensure that every child is protected from all forms of physical, sexual or mental violence, and for generating momentum for concrete and, where appropriate, time ‑bound actions to prevent and respond to such violence and abuse.
5. Basic health and welfare
Children with disabilities
60.With respect to mainland China, the Committee is concerned about:
(a)The lack of specific disaggregated data on children with disabilities;
(b)The narrow definition of disability;
(c)The significant discrepancy in the number of children with disabilities in urban and rural areas;
(d)The exception made to the one‑child policy whereby families who have a child with disabilities are allowed to have a second child, which promotes de facto discrimination against children with disabilities.
61. The Committee recommends that the State party take into account the United Nations Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (General Assembly resolution 48/96) and the recommendations adopted by the Committee on its day of general discussion on the rights of children with disabilities (see CRC/C/69) to ensure the implementation of all the principles and provisions of the Convention for children with disabilities within its jurisdiction. It further recommends that in mainland China, the State party:
(a) Strengthen its system of data collection to ensure the availability of precise data on children with disabilities, disaggregated by sex, age, rural or urban area, living arrangements and type of disability;
(b) Establish a definition that adheres to internationally accepted standards;
(c) Take all necessary measures to eliminate de facto discrimination against children with disabilities, in particular the abandonment of such children.
Health and health services
62.While noting the marked improvement in health‑care indicators, the Committee reiterates its previous concern with regard to existing disparities on the mainland between rural and urban areas, eastern and western provinces, and Han and ethnic minorities relating to infant and child mortality, nutrition, and other child health indicators. It is also concerned at the persistence of malnutrition as well as the emergence of child obesity and inadequate breastfeeding policies throughout the State party.
63. The Committee recommends that the State party take all necessary measures to provide universal access to maternal and child health services for all children in its jurisdiction, including non ‑registered children. It further urges the State party to develop policies and programmes to adequately address the problems of malnutrition and obesity in children and to promote breastfeeding through strengthening the implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes in all parts of the State party, including the China Code for Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes, and through the promotion of baby friendly hospitals in the Hong Kong SAR.
64.The Committee is concerned at the lack of information on adolescent health services available in mainland China and the Macau SAR, as well as the high incidence of teenage pregnancies and abortions in the Hong Kong SAR.
65. The Committee recommends that in all areas under its jurisdiction, the State party pay close attention to adolescent health and the provision of appropriate adolescent health services, taking into account its general comment No. 4 (2003) on adolescent health and development in the context of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and strengthen its efforts to promote adolescent health, including by providing sexual and reproductive health education in schools, and to introduce school health services, including youth ‑sensitive and confidential counselling and care.
66.The Committee appreciates the measures taken by the State party in the Hong Kong SAR to address the high number of suicides among the youth. It remains concerned about the lack of data and information on mental health services available for children on the mainland and the Macau SAR, and on tobacco, alcohol and drug abuse.
67. The Committee recommends that in all areas under its jurisdiction, the State party expand preventive and therapeutic mental health services for adolescents and develop programmes to decrease tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption and drug abuse among adolescents, in particular through the development of campaigns specifically designed for adolescents on health ‑behavioural choices and life skills. It further recommends that in the Hong Kong SAR, the State party continue to strengthen its efforts to prevent suicide among the youth.
68.The Committee welcomes the development of policies and programmes for children infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS in mainland China. Yet, the Committee is concerned that the implementation of these policies and programmes is insufficient.
69. The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its implementation of policies and programmes for children infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS on the mainland by:
(a) Increasing the financial resources allocated to these programmes;
(b)Strengthening cooperation with local authorities to ensure that they are adequately trained and equipped to implement programmes and policies in conformity with the best interest principle of the Convention (art. 3);
(c) Strengthening public information campaigns to raise awareness about the disease and eliminate discrimination against children with HIV/AIDS, as mentioned in paragraph 32 of these concluding observations.
70. In the light of the Committee’s general comment No. 3 (2003) on HIV/AIDS and the rights of the child and the International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights, the Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS both on the mainland and in the SARs and continue to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS among adolescents, particularly among those belonging to vulnerable groups.
Standard of living
71.The Committee commends the State party for impressive economic achievements in mainland China and increased resource allocations for people living in poverty in recent years, including through the provision of scholarships to disadvantaged children. However, it is concerned that poverty, in particular with regard to certain regions and specific populations, such as the migrant or “floating” population, as well as growing disparities remain serious concerns.
72.Similarly, despite the economic achievements of the Hong Kong SAR, the Committee remains concerned at the existence of child poverty among vulnerable populations such as the unemployed, immigrants and single‑parent families and at the lack of an established poverty line, which hinders the formulation of appropriate policies to combat poverty.
73. The Committee recommends that in mainland China, the State party continue to strengthen its efforts to achieve balanced economic development, including through adjustments in budgetary allocations mentioned in paragraph 20 of this document, and through the consolidation of the database on child poverty. It further urges the State party to expand benefits such as scholarships for disadvantaged children, including those from vulnerable populations such as the “floating” population and from poor regions in western China.
74. The Committee recommends that in the Hong Kong SAR, the State party establish a poverty line and develop appropriate policies to combat child poverty that address widening income disparities while expanding access to social welfare benefits to all vulnerable populations, including new immigrants.
6. Education, leisure and cultural activities
Education, including vocational training and guidance
75.While noting efforts made by the State party in mainland China, the Committee is concerned about remaining disparities in access to and availability of education, which negatively affect girls, children with learning difficulties, ethnic minority children, children living in rural areas and western provinces, and migrant children. The Committee is also specifically concerned about the existence of miscellaneous fees for compulsory education, high student‑teacher ratios, high dropout rates in middle and secondary school and the quality of education throughout the mainland.
76.In the Hong Kong SAR, the Committee is concerned about dropout rates in secondary schools, the competitive nature of the school system and bullying in schools. The Committee regrets the limited amount of information available on these issues in the Macau SAR.
77. The Committee recommends that in mainland China, the State party:
(a) Eliminate all miscellaneous and other “hidden” fees for primary education in order to ensure that it is truly free;
(b) Increase the allocation of resources to education in step with increases in GDP, as directed by the Education Law, and target those resources towards ensuring that all children, in particular girls, children with learning difficulties, and ethnic minority and migrant children, complete nine years of compulsory education and have equal access to early childhood education and development programmes;
(c) Promote the development of flexible learning systems so that children who have dropped out of school, in particular because of poverty or migration, are able to complete compulsory education and earn appropriate accreditation through non ‑formal channels, and also ensure the availability and accessibility of suitable technical and vocational education and training;
(d) Ensure that all teaching and learning materials for the primary and secondary level are also available in ethnic minority languages and with culturally sensitive content;
(e) Further strengthen efforts to improve the quality of education, including through teacher training and the improvement of teacher ‑student ratios;
(f) Strengthen the implementation of its policy of “all ‑round development”, in particular through the development of a curriculum promoting children’s active learning capacities and which also includes a focus on a child’s right to play and leisure;
(g) Seek technical assistance in this regard from, inter alia, UNICEF and relevant national agencies.
78. In the Hong Kong SAR, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Develop programmes aimed at addressing the dropout rates in secondary education;
(b) Further strengthen existing programmes aimed at addressing violence in schools, including with the participation of students themselves;
(c) Enhance the quality of education in a manner that seeks to reduce the competitiveness of the education system and promotes active learning capacities and the right of a child to play and leisure.
79. In the Macau SAR, the Committee encourages the State party to expedite its plans to expand free compulsory education to 12 years’ duration. The Committee requests further information on the quality of education and programmes aimed at reducing violence in schools in the next periodic report.
7. Special protection measures
Refugee and migrant children
80.The Committee notes the efforts made by the State party to allow the approximately 300,000 Indochinese refugees to settle permanently in mainland China. However, it is concerned that the children born in China of these former refugees are not granted Chinese citizenship. It is further concerned that children entering mainland China from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are categorically considered as economic migrants and returned to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea without consideration of whether there are risks of irreparable harm to the child upon return.
81.With regard to the Hong Kong SAR, the Committee notes that refugee children and undocumented migrant children are not guaranteed access to education.
82. The Committee recommends that the State party extend all human rights guarantees in its Constitution and in the Convention to all children within its jurisdiction on both the mainland and the SARs, including refugees, asylum ‑seekers and other undocumented migrants. In particular, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Amend legislation to allow children born in China of former Indochinese refugees in mainland China to obtain Chinese citizenship;
(b) Ensure that no unaccompanied child, including those from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, is returned to a country where there are substantial grounds for believing that there is a real risk of irreparable harm to the child, for instance through disproportionate punishment for violating immigration laws, in accordance with the Committee’s general comment No. 6 (2005) on unaccompanied minors;
(c) Amend legislation and regulations to ensure that all refugee, asylum ‑seeking or undocumented migrant children in the Hong Kong SAR are able to attend school without undue delay.
83.The Committee welcomes the ratification of ILO Conventions Nos. 138 and 182 in 1998 and 2002, respectively. However, it is concerned about the absence of specific data on child labour on the mainland, while reports indicate that it is widespread. It is also concerned about the lack of legislation and specific administrative regulations defining and protecting children from exploitation in hazardous work. The Committee is further concerned about the widespread practice of re‑education through labour.
84. The Committee recommends that the State party further strengthen its implementation of ILO Conventions Nos. 138 and 182, in particular by:
(a) Gathering specific disaggregated data on child labour and using them to develop, in cooperation with working children, effective measures to prevent and eliminate all forms of child labour;
(b) Developing detailed regulations on the forms of hazardous and dangerous work in which all persons under 18 should not be engaged, in consultation with the affected children;
(c) Ensuring that re ‑education through labour does not result in children working in violation of the principles and provisions of ILO Conventions Nos. 138 and 182.
85.While noting with appreciation the efforts of the State party in mainland China, the Committee is concerned at the significant numbers of children living and working in the streets.
86. The Committee recommends that in mainland China, the State party strengthen its efforts related to street children, in particular by:
(a) Undertaking further research into the situation of children living and working in the streets, and using such research to develop appropriate programmes and policies to reduce the number of street children and provide them with appropriate assistance;
(b) Prioritizing family ‑ and community ‑based interventions aimed at reintegrating these children successfully into their families;
(c) Increasing the resources provided to local authorities providing services to street children and their families.
Sexual exploitation and trafficking
87.With respect to mainland China and the Macau SAR, the Committee notes with appreciation the submission of the initial report under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and refers the State party to the relevant recommendations contained in its concluding observations thereon (CRC/C/OPSA/CO/2). The Committee regrets that the application of the Optional Protocol has not yet been extended to the Hong Kong SAR. While welcoming the amendments to the Crimes Ordinance aimed at strengthening the protection of children from pornography, it is concerned at the absence of any data on or reported cases of child prostitution in the Hong Kong SAR.
88. In order to prevent and combat trafficking in children for sexual and other exploitative purposes, the Committee recommends that the State party in the Hong Kong SAR:
(a) Further develop and enhance systems of early prevention of sexual exploitation and trafficking;
(b) Further strengthen its efforts to identify and investigate trafficking cases, to improve understanding of the issues of trafficking and ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted;
(c) Develop and adopt a comprehensive policy to prevent and combat sexual exploitation and trafficking in children, including the root causes and factors that place children at risk of such exploitation;
(d) Provide adequate programmes of assistance and reintegration for sexually exploited and/or trafficked children in accordance with the Declaration and Agenda for Action and the Global Commitment adopted at the 1996 and 2001 World Congresses against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children;
(e) Ratify the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (2000).
Administration of juvenile justice
89.The Committee welcomes the State party’s abolition of the death penalty in mainland China for persons who have committed an offence when under the age of 18. However, it is concerned that life imprisonment continues to be possible for those under 18, even if that sentence is not often applied. While noting efforts to reform laws relating to juvenile justice, such as the Law on the Protection of Minors, the Committee remains concerned that existing legislation, regulations and administrative procedures do not adequately set out the detailed obligations of the authorities and the judiciary for the protection of children in conflict with the law at all stages.
90.While noting that the State party has raised the minimum age of criminal responsibility in the Hong Kong SAR, the Committee remains concerned that the age of 10 years is too low. The Committee is further concerned that children between the ages of 16 and 18 are not consistently accorded special protection when coming into conflict with the law.
91.The Committee shares the concerns of the delegates from the Macau SAR about the lack of restorative justice for children in conflict with the law and welcomes the information they provided about plans to reform the juvenile justice system.
92. In light of the recommendations adopted by the Committee on its day of general discussion on juvenile justice (CRC/C/46, paras. 203 ‑238), the Committee recommends that in all areas under its jurisdiction, the State party ensure that juvenile justice standards are fully implemented, in particular articles 37, 40 and 39 of the Convention and other relevant international standards in this area, such as the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (the Beijing Rules), the United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (the Riyadh Guidelines), the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of Their Liberty and the Vienna Guidelines for Action on Children in the Criminal Justice System. It further recommends that in all jurisdictions the State party provide training on relevant international standards to those responsible for administering juvenile justice.
93. Within mainland China, the Committee further recommends that the State party:
(a) Abolish life sentences for persons who have committed offences when under the age of 18;
(b) Amend legislation so as to ensure that all children deprived of their liberty, including in work study schools, have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance and the right to challenge the legality of their deprivation of liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority in a timely manner;
(c) Ensure that deprivation of liberty is always used as a last resort, and strengthen and expand possibilities for alternative sentences such as mediation, probation, community service or suspended sentences;
(d) Ensure that both sentenced and released persons under 18 are provided with educational opportunities, including vocational and life ‑skills training, and recovery and social reintegration services, in order to support their full development;
(e) Seek technical cooperation and assistance from, inter alia, OHCHR, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Prevention (UNODC) and UNICEF.
94. Within the Hong Kong SAR, the Committee further recommends that the State party:
(a) Raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to an internationally acceptable level;
(b) Abolish life sentences for persons who committed offences when they were under the age of 18;
(c) Ensure that all children under the age of 18 are consistently accorded special protection when coming into conflict with the law, and that their cases are heard in specialized juvenile courts by appropriately trained magistrates;
(d) Ensure that deprivation of liberty is always used as a last resort, and strengthen and expand possibilities for alternative sentences, such as mediation, probation, community service or suspended sentences.
95. In the Macau SAR, the Committee recommends that the State party expedite its plans for reform of the juvenile justice system and ensure that such reforms include:
(a) Measures to ensure that detention is used only as a last resort and expanded the possibilities for alternative sentences such as probation, community service or suspended sentences;
(b) Possibilities for restorative justice, such as family group conferencing;
(c) An expansion of services to assist juvenile offenders with social reintegration in an environment which fosters the health, self ‑respect and dignity of the child.
8. Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child
96.The Committee recommends that the State party extend the application of the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography to the Hong Kong SAR. It further recommends that the State party ratify the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, which it signed on 15 March 2001, and extend its application to the Hong Kong and Macau SARs.
9. Follow‑up and dissemination
97. The Committee recommends that the State party take all appropriate measures to ensure that the present recommendations are fully implemented, inter alia by transmitting them to the members of the National People’s Congress and the State Council on the mainland, the Executive and Legislative Councils in the Hong Kong SAR and the Executive Council and Legislative Assembly in the Macau SAR, and to relevant provincial or local authorities, when applicable, for appropriate consideration and further action.
98. The Committee further recommends that the second periodic report and the written replies submitted by the State party and the related recommendations (concluding observations) adopted by the Committee be made widely available in the languages of the country, including (but not exclusively) through the Internet, to the public at large, civil society organizations, youth groups, professional groups and children, in order to generate debate and awareness of the Convention, its implementation and monitoring.
10. Next report
99. In light of the recommendation on reporting periodicity adopted by the Committee and described in the report on its twenty ‑ninth session (CRC/C/114), the Committee underlines the importance of a reporting practice that is in full compliance with the provisions of article 44 of the Convention. An important aspect of States parties’ responsibilities to children under the Convention is ensuring that the Committee on the Rights of the Child has regular opportunities to examine the progress made in the Convention’s implementation. In this regard, regular and timely reporting by States parties is crucial. The Committee recognizes that some States parties experience difficulties in reporting in a timely and regular manner. As an exceptional measure, in order to help the State party catch up with its reporting obligations so as to be in full compliance with the Convention, the Committee invites the State party to submit its third and fourth periodic reports in one consolidated report by 31 March 2009, the due date for the submission of the fourth report. The report should not exceed 120 pages (see CRC/C/118). The Committee expects the State party to report every five years thereafter, as foreseen by the Convention.