Committee on the Rights of the Child
Combined second to fifth periodic reports submitted by Tuvalu under article 44 of the Convention, due in 2017 *
[Date received: 9 March 2018]
A.General measures implementation
1.Tuvalu in its attempt to harmonize its domestic legislation with the Convention on the Rights of the Child have passed the following amendments and legislation: Island Courts (Amendment) Act 2017; Tobacco Control (Amendment) Act 2017; Alcoholics Drinks Amendment Act 2017; The Leadership (Amendment) Act 2017 and Marriage (Amendment) Act 2017 ; The National Human Rights Institution Act 2017; Labour and Employment Relations Act 2017.
2.As part of its national plan cabinet assigned the Office of the Attorney General to draft specific laws relating to the protection of children and to, as necessary, amend laws that are discriminatory and not in compliance with treaties that the Government of Tuvalu has ratified. The Office of the Attorney General in 2017 secured funding from UNICEF Pacific to contract a Technical Adviser to draft a Child Protection and Welfare Bill 2017 and the Policy for the Protection of All Children in Educational Institutions in Tuvalu.
3.The proposed Child Protection and Welfare Bill aims to promote awareness on child protection issues, to ensure that Tuvaluan customs, traditions and community values relating to children are promoted and applied, to work in collaboration with other Ministries and community agencies to promote the protection and welfare of children, to involve and empower non-government organizations, to promote, apply and enforce bilateral and multilateral measures to protect children from sexual abuse and sexual exploitation etc. The Child Protection and Welfare Bill 2017 is the first law in Tuvalu to make comprehensive provision for issues related to the rights, protection and welfare of children in accordance with the principles and provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). This new law will empower the government to take action to ensure that children are protected whenever necessary. It also guarantees that the laws of Tuvalu will be applied in the best interests of children.
4.The Child Protection and Welfare Bill 2017 also makes specific references and imposes specific obligations on key government departments on the implementation of the proposed Bill. In addition, the Judiciary under the proposed Bill is mandated to ensure that court proceedings are adhered to especially in relation to children. The proposed Bill calls on the judiciary to ensure that when it conducts a hearing concerning a child; special requirements must be adhered to involving children.
5.The Tuvalu Police Service is mandated under the Child Protection and Welfare Bill to apply special requirements when children are investigated and interviewed and to ensure that special training for police officers when dealing with child offenders is noted. The Tuvalu Police Force is also mandated to ensure bail for child offenders is provided for and that appropriate places of detention must be used for child offenders who are not released on bail. Additionally, child offenders in custody of police must be kept separate from adults and parents must be advised if a child is placed under arrest.
6.In addition Prisons Officers are mandated under the Child Protection and Welfare Bill to ensure: that child offenders in detention must not be allowed to associate with adult prisoners; children convicted of serious crimes can be imprisoned at place approved by the Court; a Court can order a child prisoner in custody to be released on licence; the Minister has power to approve places of detention for child prisoners, and the Courts may make orders in relation to the discharge or transfer of them; all persons in authority or who are employed in a prison, detention centre or corrections facility who become aware of sexual abuse or exploitation of a child are under a duty to report it to the Commissioner of Police or the Attorney General.
7.Furthermore, Schools and other Educational Institutions are mandated under the Child Protection and Welfare Bill to report sexual abuse and exploitation, duty to be bound by the policy; disciplinary action to be implemented for breach of the policy and duty not to release information of children etc.
8.Additionally, the Office of the Attorney General is mandated by the proposed Bill to: (a) to receive reports of sexual abuse and exploitation; (b) to receive reports from police officers about the wellbeing of children; (c) to take action for children in need of protection; (d) to initiate investigations and assessment of children in need of protection; (e) to receive notification from police officers of urgent action taken in relation to children in need of protection; (f) to make an application to the court for a care and protection order; and (g) to be a party to a care and protection order proceedings.
9.The Kaupule under the Child Protection and Welfare Bill are mandated to: (a) be appointed as “authorised officers”; and (b) report abuse or neglect of children.
10.The Family Protection Act Domestic Violence Act 2014 has been passed and commenced as an Act of parliament in December 2014. The Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act 2014 provides for a guarantee for women and children including those living with disabilities protection from all forms of violence. The Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act 2014 also imposes mandatory responsibilities on the part of service providers to expediently attend to cases of violence in the home.
11.The Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act 2014 also makes references to children and provides for measures to be taken when children are a subject to violence and abuse. Additionally, section 24 of the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act 2014 further states that where a conciliation conference is ordered, the following matters must be considered: (a) child custody of and access arrangements; safety of victim and children and risk management; (b) accommodation and living arrangements of members of the household; (c) maintenance for victim and children; safety of property and arrangements for personal property; reconciliation; (d) counselling and intervention programmes provided by relevant registered institutions, registered counsellors, church groups, or traditional mediators; (e) counselling programmes to assist the defendant; (f) other support service requirements for the victim and children; separation or dissolution of marriage; and (g) the respondent’s participation, where possible, in the rehabilitation of the victim.
12.Additionally, the Government of Tuvalu informs the Committee that consequential amendments to other laws have been made to be effective on the enactment of the Child Protection and Welfare Bill; namely: (a) Section 39 of the Penal Code [Cap 10.20]; (b) Prisons Act [Cap 20.28]; (c) Tobacco Control (Amendment) Act; (d) Education (Compulsory Education) Order 1984 [Cap 30.05.4] and (e) Gaming and Lotteries Act [Cap 54.10].
Comprehensive policy and strategy
13.The Tuvalu National Youth Policy 2015–2019 is the national governments mechanism to guide national youth development over a five-year period. The policy was reviewed in 2014 to allow for more collaboration and to consider new emerging issues faced by youths in Tuvalu. The goal of the Tuvalu National Youth Policy is to foster the spiritual, mental, physical and cultural development of youth of Tuvalu to enable them to be positive contributors to development.
14.The review of the Policy considered the views of youths and youth stakeholders representing Funafuti and the outer islands. Additionally, the Policy forms the basis for a cohesive and coordinated approach to positive youth development in Tuvalu. The policy further affirms the importance of creating an environment where leaders, parents, stakeholders and youth become the implementers of the Policy as well as the beneficiaries of the Policy.
15.The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is responsible for the coordination of the policy implementation. The implementation mechanisms in place ensures a collaborative approach is taken. Also, quarterly opportunities to monitor and evaluate implementation progress. The Youth Development Department will together with the National Youth Advisory Board coordinate various stakeholder meetings to be held in Funafuti and will report together with the Tuvalu National Youth Council.
16.Under the overall guidance of the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports with support from UNICEF Pacific, in close consultation with the Tuvalu National Advisory Committee on Children’s Rights (NACCR) and the Technical Working Group (TWG), a legal consultant was tasked to develop a work plan for the assignment of drafting a Child Protection Bill and a Child Protection Policy in Schools.
17.The Government of Tuvalu through the Office of the Attorney General has in place a Policy for the Protection of Children in all Educational Institutions in Tuvalu. This Policy provides a framework for the protection, identification, managing and reporting incidents of child abuse in schools and educational institutions and whenever school activities and programs are conducted or provided.
18.The Policy for the Protection of Children in all Educational Institutions in Tuvalu provides for implementation processes that include enforcement of the Policy; appropriate and necessary action and intervention; commitment to child protection; mandatory background checks for all school staff; zero tolerance of child abuse or exploitation; inclusion of parents and guardians in activities outside the school compound; confidentiality and proper storage of student file.
19.In line with its commitments to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Cabinet endorsed the establishment of a national coordinating body called the National Advisory Committee for Children’s Rights (herein referred to as “NACCR”) to provide oversight, advise and coordination for all national efforts on the reporting and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Committee consist of representatives from government ministries, non-government organisations, faith-based organisations, and child advocates.
20.A Technical Working Group (TWG) has been established and it provides technical support to the NACCR. The TWG also performs other duties and responsibilities directed by the NACCR that is related to the reporting and implementation of the CRC. The NACCR is responsible for overall national coordination of the CRC in Tuvalu. The NACCR consists of representatives from government, non-government organizations, schools, educational institutions, regional organizations, students and Island Council.
Allocation of resources
21.The Government of Tuvalu in partnership with the Australian Aid through the Australia Volunteers International Development have employed a Child Protection and School Safety Officer (Technical Adviser) to volunteer and to provide support to the Senior Education Office (Safe Schools and Child Protection) particularly on the implementation of the policy in schools.
22.Furthermore, the Office of the Attorney General in partnership with UNICEF Pacific (Child Protection Division) have established a Child Protection Desk and have employed a Child Protection Manager who is mandated to manage, coordinate and facilitate the child protection program and activities in Tuvalu.
23.Further, the Ministry of Education has included and incorporated child protection in the – Child Protection incorporated in Minimum Quality Service Standard which was endorsed by cabinet. Additionally, a budget allocation has been provided for children’s education under the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports. In addition, the report notes that the Ministry of Home Affairs and Rural Development and the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports continue to provide on-going financial and technical support to the overall function and work activities of Fusi Alofa (National Disability Organization) and national kindergarten schools.
24.The Tuvalu Education Department (Ministry of Education Youth and Sports) with technical assistance from the South Pacific Community (SPC) and UNICEF Pacific and financial assistance from the Australian Government (DFAT) produced the Education Department 2015 Statistical Report.
25.The Statistical Report 2015 report is produced by the Education Department (herein referred to as “EdDep”) within the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (herein referred to a “MEYS”). Further, the Education Department’s policy interventions are nested within the Tuvalu Education Strategic Plan (herein referred to as “TESP II”), a five-year plan for 2011–2015.
26.In addition, Tuvalu contributed to the set of global assessments undertaken by UNESCO to help frame the vision for the post-2015 agenda. This agenda was presented to over 190 Member States attending the 37th session of UNESCO’s General Conference. Along with the EFA Global Monitoring Report, these country assessments were also shared at a global education forum in Korea in 2015 and fed into the definition of the new global education agenda. This national report recognizes that the post-2015 agenda will be a useful resource for countries like Tuvalu as it embarks on evidence-based policy and planning, monitoring, evaluation and reporting of its new sector plan.
27.The total number of teachers in Tuvalu is 233, spread across all nine islands. Education is compulsory until the end of the year the child turns 15, generally two years after primary school. In the past, children failing the national examination in Form 2 (Year 8) were required to repeat Form 2 and re-sit the examination until they passed or reached the age of 15. With the introduction of the TVET stream in secondary school education, there is now an alternative learning pathway for these students.
28.The Government of Tuvalu has in place the National Human Rights Institution Act 2017. The National Human Rights Institution Act 2017 proposes to provide support for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental rights and freedoms for the people of Tuvalu.
29.The National Human Rights Institution Act 2017 is aimed at providing a relevant mechanism to ensure the full promotion and protection of fundamental freedom. The Act aims at allowing access to a government system that will address abuse of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The primary functions of the National Human Rights Institution Act 2017 of Tuvalu are: (a) to advocate and promote respect for, and understanding and appreciation of, human rights in Tuvaluan society; and (b) to encourage the maintenance and development of harmonious relations between individuals and among the diverse groups in Tuvaluan society.
30.The Leadership Code Amendment Act 2017 proposes to include more powers and functions to the Ombudsman’s Office in relation to the delegation of duties for the national human rights institution. This will mean more responsibilities and powers will be given to the Ombudsman in order to be able to carry out its duties outlined in the NHRI Act. The proposed amendment also recognizes the continuance of theories and functions of the Ombudsman as to the protection and promotion of human rights in Tuvalu.
Dissemination, awareness-raising and training
31.The delegation from the Government of Tuvalu assures the Committee that the preparation for this national report involved coordinating and facilitating national and outer island consultations. To date the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports has conducted outer islands consultation on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Convention on the Rights of the Child National Report, Child Protection and Welfare Bill 2017 and the Policy for the Protection of all Children in Educational Institutions in Tuvalu. In addition to the above, ongoing work by the Government of Tuvalu to the outer islands has also included human rights particularly the rights of persons with disabilities, gender, climate change and development. In addition, UNICEF Pacific Regional office also provided the Office of the Attorney General with information packages, tool kits, funding support for a chartered boat to conduct the outer island consultations and awareness programs, support two Technical Advisers to guide the overall consultations.
32.Additionally, the Department for Education have started coordinating and facilitating training awareness programs for senior staff members on the CRC. The purpose of the training and awareness programs is to equip staff members with information and knowledge and to also inform them on how to apply and implement the principles of the CRC in their work and activities.
33.In addition to the above, the Government of Tuvalu also recognizes and supports the 16 days of Activism on Ending Violence Against Women. The 16 Days of Activism includes awareness on human rights, gender, inclusive sports, quiz and awareness on violence against children, legal rights including the protections under the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act. In addition, the 16 Days of Activism awareness includes the involvement of the government departments, community leaders, church leaders, school students (primary and secondary), persons with disabilities, youths, and other regional partners.
B.Definition of the child
34.The Government of Tuvalu in keeping with its commitment and obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and in ensuring that children are protected has raised the age of marriage to 18 years. The new age of marriage is consistent with the CRC. Additionally, the Policy and the Child Protection and Welfare Bill defines a child as a person who has not reached the age of 18 years. The Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2016 was tabled in parliament with the aim of increasing the age of marriage from 16 years–18 years and to allow for parental consent for marriage of any person under the age of 21.
35.In addition, the Government of Tuvalu notes that other laws that are discriminatory will be amended to ensure alignment and compliance with our obligations to the CRC. Additionally, the Government of Tuvalu informs the Committee that the right given to the father to solely decide on matters relating to children is now removed and is now shared between both the mother and father under the Marriage (Amendment) Act 2016. Additionally, other amendments to be compliant with CRC include the Island Courts Amendment.
36.The Government of Tuvalu recognizes that the Constitution is relatively silent on gender, disability and birth and notes that there is some resistance to recognizing women as full participants in the political and economic spheres. There are other gender issues related to traditional rights, such as the fact that fathers get automatic custody of children.
37.A Constitutional review is currently underway and significant to the proposed Constitutional changes is the inclusion of gender and disability as a non-discrimination ground. The Government of Tuvalu notes that adding gender and disability to the non-discrimination clause of section 27 is consistent with Tuvalu’s international obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Best interests of the child
38.The Labour and Employment Relations Act 2017 recognizes the principle of ‘the best interest of the child’ particularly the incorporation of Paternity and Adoption Leave in the Act (section 31 and 32).
39.The Labour and Employment Relations Act 2017 also provides guidance on the employment of young people. Under Part 3: Employment of Young Persons of the Labour and Employment Relations Act 2017 section 43 (minimum age of employment) states that a child who has not yet completed the calendar year of schooling in which he or she reaches the age of 15 years must not be employed or work in any capacity, except in light work. It further states that work engaged in by a child under the age of 16 years in schools, as part of an authorized program of education or training, will not be in contravention. It also states that if a child has been employed, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that the consent of a parent has been obtained, and the employer must produce evidence of such consent if requested to do so by an authorized officer.
40.Part 5 of the Labour and Employment Act 2017 provides for equal employment opportunities. Section 50 (Prohibition of discrimination) provides for non-discriminatory section in the area of employment. Section 50 of the Act states that “an employer shall not discriminate, directly or indirectly, against any employee or prospective employee in respect of recruitment, training, promotion, against any employee or prospective employee to recruitment, training, promotion, terms and conditions of employment, termination of employment, or other matters arising out of employment relationship, for a prohibited reason.”
41.The Government of Tuvalu has in place laws and policies that accord children with opportunities to have a voice in issues and matters that affect them. The Tuvalu National Youth Policy 2015–2019 provided an opportunity for youths in Tuvalu to discuss and voice their concerns on issues directly affecting them. It also involved discussions with national and traditional leaders on youth related issues. The Policy illustrates the commitment and recognition of the Government and the society as a whole to empower its youth, regardless of race, religion, gender and disabilities.
42.Furthermore Section 11 (2) of the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act 2014 states that the complainant or another person with information about domestic violence may file a complaint of domestic violence with the Police and that a complainant child may be assisted by another person to file a complaint of domestic violence with the Police.
43.Furthermore, the Custody of Children Act s3 (1) (a) (b) (2) states that where custody orders are concerned the court may on application by or on behalf of any person make such order regarding: (a) the custody of any child; and (b) the right of access to the child of his mother or father, as the court thinks fit having regard to the welfare of the child and to the conduct and wishes of the mother and father.
44.Additionally, the Island Courts Act – 8 (2) states that although child is defined as person under 14 years, this has been amended to increase the age of 14 years to 18 years making it compliant with the age requirement of the child under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
D.Civil rights and freedom
45.Discussions with the Birth Registrar noted that the registration rate among children on the outer islands is in fact higher than that on the capital. Reports from the Registrar noted an increase in registration since early 2015 given that schools have been strictly advised as part of their enrolment that birth certificates are official documents required for enrolment. This has allowed for identification of children who were not registered. Therefore, late registration is processed for children who were not registered at birth with a fee of $4.00 for the application.
46.The Registrar for Births as part of its ongoing efforts to include everyone, with the support from the Office of the Attorney General funded travel of the Registration Officer and a Crown Counsel to Nauru and Kiribati with the purpose of collecting and recording births; death and marriages of Tuvaluan’s in Nauru and Kiribati. Furthermore, the Office of the Attorney General has finalised a plan to provide for compulsory registration.
47.The Government of Tuvalu has plans to conduct a Child Protection Baseline Survey in the first quarter of 2018. The Office of the Attorney General has through UNICEF received funding for child protection activities for Tuvalu and will be undertaking this initiative. It is envisaged that the child protection baseline will include all outer islands and will focus on child protection issues facing children of Tuvalu. It is envisaged that the child protection baseline will be facilitated to collect information on the situation with regard to child protection issues, as well as existing responses, with a view to using this information as a basis to establish/strengthen the child protection system, and to measure progress over the years.
Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion
48.Freedom of thought, conscience and religion is guaranteed in the Constitution and all other relevant laws and now informs the Committee that the Constitution of Tuvalu allows for freedom of religion. Section 23 (2) (a) (b) (c) of the Constitution of Tuvalu – Freedom of belief states that for the purposes of this section, freedom of belief includes – (a) freedom of thought, religion, and belief; and (b) freedom to change religion or belief; and (c) freedom, either alone or with others, to show and to spread, both in public and in private, a religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice, and observance.
49.The Government of Tuvalu notes that ongoing dialogue is continuous with local communities and other religious and faith based organizations nationally. Additionally, the Constitutional Review Committee is also holding discussions internally and externally on the above issue. Additionally, Section 19 (1) (2) (3) of the Education Act-Religious instructions in schools clearly states that all non-Government and Local Government schools shall include religious instruction in their curricular.
Right to privacy
50.It is standard practice that any party to a court proceeding have the liberty to apply to the court to withhold or to suppress the identity of a juvenile. The Constitution of Tuvalu allows for the recognition of the right to privacy. Section 21 of the Constitution states that except with his consent no-one shall be subjected to the search of his person; or the search of his property or entry by others on his property.
E.Violence against children
51.Section 29 of the Education Act states that no teacher, other than a head-teacher, shall administer corporal punishment to any pupil. Section 29 of the Education Act has been repealed in its entirety as it contradicts the principles enshrined in the CRC in protecting and respecting the rights and dignity of children. The amendment prohibits corporal punishment in any form and manifestation. The Island Court (Amendment) Act No 5 of 2017 provides protection for children within the island court setting on the treatment of young offenders. The amendment is aimed at abolishing physical punishment as a form of criminal sentence by the Island Courts.
52.Awareness campaigns have been carried out in schools in Funafuti and Vaitupu on school bullying and corporal punishment. This was conducted by the Gender Affairs Division of the Government of Tuvalu in June 2016. Additionally, the police during White Ribbon day conducted awareness program on all forms of violence (particularly domestic and child violence).
53.Furthermore, the Education Department will work with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and UNICEF to fund a Technical Adviser to assist in designing and developing policies and frameworks on Child Protection. Additionally, an AVID volunteer will be assigned to work with and assist the Senior Education Office (Safe Schools and Child Protection) on the implementation of both the proposed bill and policy in schools. The Office of the Attorney-General has been approached to undertake the task with the assistance of UNICEF on participatory forms of child rearing.
Abuse and neglect
54.The Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act 2014 defines a child as a person under the age of 18 years keeping in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Section 24 of the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act 2014 clearly provides for matters that need to be considered where a conciliation conference is ordered. In addition to the above, section 29 of the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Act 2014 provides for an automatic protection of child and a protection order granted by a Court automatically protects any child of the victim’s family.
55.Further to the above the proposed Child Protection and Welfare Bill provides for a comprehensive law that will take into account matters concerning children. The proposed Child Protection and Welfare Bill also outlines the specific powers and duties of relevant government stakeholders in ensuring that all children in Tuvalu are protected.
56.In addition to the above, the Penal Code s226 (2) (a) (b) states that a parent or other person legally liable to maintain a child or young person shall be deemed to have neglected him in a manner likely to cause injury to his health if he has failed to provide adequate food, clothing, medical aid or lodging for him; where it is proved that the death of an infant under 3 years of age was caused by suffocation (not being suffocation caused by disease or the presence of any foreign body in the throat or air passages of the infant) while the infant was in bed with some other person who has attained the age of 15 years, that other person shall, if he was, when he went to bed, under the influence of alcohol, be deemed to have neglected the infant in a manner likely to cause injury to its health.
57.The Government of Tuvalu is currently working on a Cyber Crime Bill that defines a child as someone under the age of 18 years. Child pornography under the draft Cyber Crime Bill is defined as “material that (a) depicts or presents a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct; or (b) depicts or presents a person appearing to be a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct; or (c) realistically represents a person appearing to be child engaged in sexually explicit conduct; this includes, but is not limited to, any visual (images, animations or videos) audio or text material.
58.Furthermore, section 156 (5) of the Penal Code has been amended to protect the interest of the child in line with the Constitution of Tuvalu. The amendment now reads any female of or above the age of 18 years who with consent permits her grandfather, father, brother, or son to have sexual intercourse with her knowing him to be her grandfather, father, brother or son as the case may be shall be guilty of a felony and shall be liable to imprisonment of 7 years.
59.In addition, Section 76 (3) Criminal Procedure Code allows for complaints to be made orally and directly to a magistrate.
F.Family environment and alternative care
60.The Ministry of Health provides health care services for every citizen of Tuvalu, including children whose parents cannot provide adequate care for them. As is Tuvaluan tradition the extended family plays an important role in the care of children to support children whose parents cannot take care of them. The community in general provides adequate support through church assistance which forms part of the extended family support. In addition, there is ongoing support provided to the families of these children through providing advice and education on how to provide good, quality care of these children.
61.The Police Force has a unit known as Alo Ki Mua Programs which allocate funds to support children by paying for uniform, books or school expenses, donation of sport equipment to assist parents who are unable to provide the necessary and essential material for parents. They also facilitate awareness programs for parents and guardians on good parenting and effective parenting skills.
Children deprived of a family environment
62.The Government of Tuvalu wishes to inform the committee that Tuvaluan custom and tradition dictates that the extended family will assume responsibility of children who are deprived of a family environment. It is important to note that whilst Tuvalu may not have the alternative family care for children deprived of a family unit the extended family will intervene to care for the children deprived of a family environment.
Adoption and custody
63.The Government of Tuvalu informs the Committee that amendment has taken place with regard to adoption by virtue of Adoption of Children ’ s Act. Section 5 of the Adoption of Children’s Act has been amended to comply with best practices particularly that of the CRC. The amendment was made to accommodate the needs of Tuvaluan’s living and migrating out of Tuvalu to have access to national adoption processes. The initial provisions provide a more expensive method for those Tuvaluan wanting to adopt children under this Act as they would have to meet the ‘resident or domicile’ criteria. The amendment provides a more flexible but limited way to enable citizens of Tuvalu who are also Tuvaluan natives to be able to apply for adoption orders in court.
64.In addition to the above Section 7 of the Adoption of Children Act states that the welfare and interests of child to be paramount in all proceedings under this Act. Furthermore, section 10 of the Adoption of Children Act states that the Court has to be satisfied as to certain matters: no adoption order shall be made unless having made proper enquiries the Court is satisfied that:
•The applicants are of good repute and are fit and proper persons to fulfil the responsibilities of parents of the child to be adopted; and
•The applicants are suitable persons to adopt the child having regard to:
•All relevant considerations, including age, state of health, education and religious upbringing of the child and of the applicants;
•Any wishes that have been expressed by a parent or guardian of the child in an instrument of consent to the adoption with respect to the religious upbringing of the child; and
•The welfare and interests of the child.
65.Discussions are continuing on the ratification of the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in respect of Inter Country Adoption. In addition, a cost benefit analysis will need to be undertaken to ensure that appropriate budget is allocated to support this initiative.
G.Disability, basic health and welfare
Children with disabilities
66.The Government of Tuvalu ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2013. The Government of Tuvalu also wishes to inform the Committee that the Office of the Attorney General in partnership with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Rural Development have completed the initial report on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and has in place the Draft Tuvalu National Policy on Disability 2017–2021.
67.Additionally, the Draft Tuvalu National Policy on Disability 2017–2021 is completed and will be submitted to cabinet for official endorsement by the second quarter of 2018. The Draft Tuvalu National Policy on Disability sets out a comprehensive framework to address the needs and rights of persons with disabilities to improve the quality of their lives and their full and equal participation as empowered citizens. This is a reflection of Tuvalu’s vision of a disability-inclusive and barrier-free society where persons with disabilities are able to enjoy all human rights on an equal basis with others, and to live with dignity. This also reflects the key principles and core values of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability which Tuvalu acceded to in 2013, in particular the principles of non-discrimination, respect for inherent dignity, and full and effective participation and inclusion.
68.To date the Fusi Alofa School has one full time teacher assisted by four volunteers, all of whom are qualified local teachers. The school has a roll of 14 pupils who actually come in for classes, eight (8) are having classes in their homes (home visits) and 16 are in the adult learning classes.
69. Both the Child Protection and Welfare Bill and the Policy for the Protection on the Children in All Educational Institutions for all children in Tuvalu is inclusive by nature taking into account the rights of children with disabilities.
70.In addition, section 9 of the proposed Child Welfare and Protection Bill 2017 (special requirements applying to court proceedings involving children) states that despite the provision of any other law to the contrary, court proceedings involving children must consider appropriate facilities and support must be provided to children with disabilities.
71.The Policy for the Protection on the Children in All Educational Institutions in Tuvalu is inclusive of children living with disabilities. Children as mentioned in the policy takes into account and also refers to and inclusive of children with disabilities. The Policy states that all children in Tuvaluan schools are entitled to enjoy the rights and protections afforded to them under the CRC. All staff employed in Tuvaluan schools are responsible for the care, safety and protection of children in the school or educational institution. This responsibility extends to the identification and timely response to concerns regarding the possible sexual, physical, psychological and emotional abuse or neglect of a child.
72.Furthermore, one of the key aims of the Tuvalu Education Strategic Plan III in relation to access to education for children with special needs is to improve enrolment, attendance and retention of, special needs children. In addition, a core aim in Primary and Secondary schools is to improve enrolment, attendance and retention of ECCE, particularly, special needs children.
73.Furthermore, the Te Kakeega III goal in relation to education aims to provide high quality education; equip people with knowledge and skills to develop more self-reliance; promote Tuvalu’s cultural and spiritual values.
74.Government has mandated that schools constructed in Tuvalu to be accessible to persons with disabilities. Education Department through TESP III has identified access to Schools and Inclusive Education as priority areas. Currently three classrooms have been built with wheel chair access in Funafuti.
Health and health services
75.Health services are available in all islands of Tuvalu, where each island has a health centre resourced by a Midwife and/or Nurse Practitioner, Junior Nurse, Nurse Aide, and Sanitation Aide. The Ministry of Health is now upgrading health clinics in all islands, with mini hospitals for Nanumea Island and Vaitupu Island, and a new Health clinic for Nanumaga.
76.The Ministry of Health has plans to deploy one doctor for each island, after the newly graduates from Cuba have completed their internship programs, and an additional Nurse for each of the eight islands. In addition, the Tuvalu Medical Treatment Scheme will meet the costs for referral of patients for treatment on Funafuti and out of Tuvalu. The Tuvalu Medical Treatment Scheme basically aims at easing the cost of having to send patients abroad for medical assistance. It includes health care costs and monetary assistance for the carers of the patients. Children of all age are eligible for this assistance when needed.
77.Primary and preventive health care services are ongoing programs run by the Public Health Unit of the Ministry of Health. Additionally, health officials visit schools in Tuvalu and conduct on site health care service that ensure preventive health care services reach all children in Tuvalu. In addition, the Ministry of Health also facilitates deworming program for all children in schools. Immunisation programs covers all children from birth to 18 months old and 6 years of age.
78.Important to note that health services are available in all islands of Tuvalu. The outer islands of Tuvalu have a health centre managed by a Midwife and/or Nurse Practitioner, Junior Nurse, Nurse Aide and Sanitation Aide. Medical equipment has been ordered to assist in the provision of quality health care treatment for all individuals.
79.Also, the Government of Tuvalu Medical Treatment Scheme was established to provide medical services for Tuvaluan’s who require urgent medical treatment abroad. The Tuvalu Medical Treatment Scheme is also designed to meet the costs for referral of patients for treatment on Funafuti and out of Tuvalu and in inclusive of children in need of the medical treatment.
80.The Government of Tuvalu recognizes the need to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the health status of adolescents. The Government of Tuvalu commits to ensuring that a relevant study will be undertaken with the relevant government and NGO stakeholders. Furthermore, the report recognizes that ongoing program on Sexual reproductive health and rights are facilitated and divided for by the Ministry of Health and Tuvalu Family Health Association (TuFHA) for secondary school students in Funafuti and Motufoua Secondary School in Vaitupu.
81.The Alcoholic Drinks (Amendment) Act 2017 passed the first reading in March 2017. The amendment states that any person who knowingly sells or supplies any alcoholic drink to a person under the age of 18 years is guilty of an offence, and is liable to a fine of AUD$500. In addition, a person under the age of 18 years who obtains or attempts to obtain any alcoholic drink on or from any licensed premises; or has in his possession or drinks any alcoholic drink; or is drunk is guilty of an offence, and is liable to a fine determinable by the court of jurisdiction. Further to the above, the Alcoholics Drinks (Amendment) Act 2017 also states that the holder of any license who knowingly sells an alcoholic drink to a prohibited person or allows a prohibited person to remain on the premises is guilty of an offence, and is liable to a fine of AUD 1000. This ensures that any licensed business authorized by law to sell alcohol will be guilty of an offence should they sell alcohol to a person under the age of 18.
82.Important to note is that alcohol abuse is a major contributing factor to sexual and reproductive health and sexual rights issues among young people in Tuvalu namely: unsafe sex practices, teenage pregnancy, spread of STIs and sexual abuse. The Tuvalu Family Health Association incorporates sessions on preventative measures into its awareness and information provided to young people.
83.The proposed Labour and Employment Relations Bill 2017 under section 22 provides for nursing break for female employees. Section 22 states that an employer shall allow a female employee who is nursing a child under 12 months of age, one hour twice a day during her working hours.
84.The Tuvalu Family Health Association promotes the importance of breastfeeding in the Workshops for Safe Motherhood that it conducts for young mothers every year (twice a year). The aim of the workshop for safe motherhood is to provide information and key skills for new mothers on how to safely care for new born babies and children. It also provides information and educational program for antenatal mothers, young women, communities, on the benefits of breastfeeding.
85.Strengthen nutrition, including revitalizing the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BHFI) which promotes exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months. The Breastfeeding Policy is in draft form, this policy promotes exclusive breastfeeding, and discourages artificial infant formula.
Impact of climate change on the rights of the child
86.The Te Kakega III’s first strategic area is climate change: It poses the most serious threat to the security and survival of Tuvalu. This report recognizes the range of climate change and the prospect of warming temperatures, sea level rise, and the severe weather events overhang the entire discussion of future developments including the rights of the most vulnerable in Tuvaluan society namely women, children, elderly and persons living with disabilities.
87.Part of the Climate Change agenda is Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). Children go to school most days of the year and so it is imperative that school safety should be a priority. One of the DRR management tools is to make all school facilities structurally safe and able to protect children during disasters (including acting as shelters for communities when necessary).
88.Promoting resilience in the face of emergencies is a critical agenda for school safety. Including Gender Equality, Disability Inclusiveness, Climate Change, Child Protection, Disaster Risk Reduction and HIV/AIDS as cross-cutting issues throughout TESP III, highlights the Education Department’s acknowledgement of the relevance and need to promote these issues to affect change.
89.Furthermore, the TK III as a milestone for 2017 includes the development of a standalone climate change legislation. It is envisaged that discussions on the development of the climate change legislation will include issues relating to women, children, aged and persons with disabilities. The TK III Strategic Activity – Disaster Risk Reduction has a 2017 milestone that requires the government to ensure that gender and disability perspectives are incorporated into disaster risk management.
90.The Government of Tuvalu informs the Committee that under the TK III Goal: Provide high quality education; equip people with knowledge and skills to develop more self-reliance; promote Tuvalu ’ s cultural and spiritual values under Outcome 2: Improved relevant learning resources, human resources and sustainable infrastructure development in schools calls for the implantation of all Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Curriculum as directed by the Education department.
91.In addition to the above, the TESP III under Outcome 3: Improved governance, partnership, administration and financing of an efficient and sustainable education system – Strategic Objective: (b) Policy and Planning states that all schools are to ensure that they comply with all Safer Schools (risk Reduction) and Child Protection plans, policies, processes and procedures as directed by the Education Department.
92.Tuvalu has in existence the Sustainable and Integrated Water and Sanitation Policy 2012–2021 as a response to recent water crises, and to ensure together we stand ready for future challenges. The purpose of the WSP is to ensure that the people of Tuvalu have continued access to safe, reliable, affordable and sustainable water and sanitation facilities. The policy supports Tuvalu’s key planning document, Te Kakeega III (National Strategy for Sustainable Development), as well as key regional frameworks such as the Pacific Plan, and the Pacific Regional Action Plan on Sustainable Water Management.
Standard of living
93.The Government of Tuvalu informs the Committee that it recently concluded a Hardship Survey study in September 2017. The Hardship Survey was conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The aim of the Hardship Survey was to ascertain the level of hardship faced by those living in the outer islands including Funafuti. The findings of the study have yet to be formally approved by cabinet and is envisaged that the findings will be used to provide more policy directives on how best to respond to hardship issues faced by those living in the outer islands particularly the most vulnerable in society – women, children, elderly and persons living with disabilities.
94.The outer island BNPL is less than the national average, due to lower costs of living and higher reliance on subsistence production etc. In addition, a carryover from TKIII, the government of Tuvalu will formulate the National Hardship Assistance Policy (HAP) designed to deal with rising poverty rates.
H.Education, leisure and cultural activities
Education, including vocational training and guidance
95.TESP III is also guided by the achievements of TESP I and TESP II. TESP III is an outcome of an in-house review of TESP II as well as consultations with key education stakeholders. The TESP III guiding agenda includes:
Early Childhood Care and Education
96.ECCE continues to be a key priority in education in Tuvalu. The government recognizes ECCE as the foundation for sustainable development. As a signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), government is committed to giving every child in Tuvalu the best start in life.
97.Education has a central and unavoidable role in the climate change discussion. It serves to inform the citizenry of climate change impacts, risks and responses. Perhaps more importantly is the subject of climate change and its impacts taught as part of a student’s general education curriculum. This serves to educate the next generation of Tuvaluan’s, including its future leaders, who, coming of age, need to be exposed to the climate-related problems and prospects they will inherit from today’s older generation. Education has been the foundation of modern social and economic development in Tuvalu. This will be no more apparent than the importance of education in the fight against climate change impacts, threats and risks, and finding solutions to each of these as future circumstances change and the issues continue to evolve.
98.Part of the Climate Change agenda is Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). Children go to school most days of the year and so it is imperative that school safety should be a priority.
Teaching and learning
99.Teaching and learning continues to play a very important role in the provision of all education services. The teaching and learning process will focus on improving and promoting: (a) the adoption of a 21st century curriculum and assessment; (b) ICT in education; (c) Teacher and teaching development; (d) Technical and Vocational Skills Development (TVSD).
Cross cutting issues
100.Including Gender Equality, Disability Inclusiveness, Climate Change, Child Protection, Disaster Risk Reduction and HIV/AIDS as cross-cutting issues throughout TESP III, highlights the Education Department’s acknowledgement of the relevance and need to promote these issues to affect change.
101.The Education Department (EdDep) comprises different units namely: (1) Curriculum & Assessment Unit, (2) Schools Unit; (3) National Qualifications Agency; (4) Monitoring and Evaluation Unit; (5) School Safety Unit.
102.Accordingly, schools are encouraged to have policies and safety plans in place. A key focus area included in all school Strategic Plans and School Annual Improvement Plans (SAIP) is the Learning Environment with the focus on school safety. This means that different schools use a variety of practices and procedures to promote the safety of students and staff at the school level. The Disaster Risk Management Board, which consists of the line ministries (including MEYS) is currently assisting schools with the development of their Emergency Evacuation Plans.
103.The Tuvalu Constitution does prescribe the responsibility for the conduct and administration of national matters, including education, to the Government. The Tuvalu Education Act is provided as part of the set of laws relating to the national Government administration.
104.Primary education is free and compulsory to all children aged 6–13 years old. Children enter primary schools the year they turn 6 years of age. There are nine government primary schools, one on every island. These schools are run in collaborative partnership with the Kaupule. There is one faith-based primary school on Funafuti, the Seventh day Adventist primary school, which is run an operated by the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) church. Primary education has a duration of 8 years and at the end of Year 8, children sit the National Year Eight (NYE) examination. This examination is a monitoring examination.
105.There are three years of senior secondary education – Year 11, Year 12 and Year 13. At the end of Year 12, children sit for the Tuvalu Senior Secondary Certificate (TSSC) examination. This examination selects students to continue to Year 13 or to the franchised programme for the Certificate IV programmes. At the end of Year 13, students sit for the South Pacific Form Seven Certificate (SPFSC) examination. Pre-Tertiary opportunities are available both locally and abroad for students who successfully complete the Year 11 and Year 12 programmes at secondary school.
106.The TESP III outlines the strategic direction for education in Tuvalu and identifies Access to Education and Inclusive Education as key priority outcomes that is addressed 2016–2019. The REAP project will begin in 2017 to collect data on Education Access. The REAP project aims at collecting data and the provision of analysis on quality education and how it can assist stakeholders with the provision of quality education.
107.Government has endorsed a “free education scheme” for primary and secondary education for all children to allow every child in Tuvalu to have access to proper and quality education with the ideology that no child is left behind or disadvantaged from attaining education.
108.Furthermore, during term break (two weeks) the Ministry of Education provide for teachers to have their professional capacity building workshop on the main island.. This includes teachers from the outer islands and those in Funafuti. The aim of the professional capacity building workshop is to allow participants to be better equipped to manage classroom learning and student interaction efficiently and consistently.
109.The Fiji Voluntary Scheme started in 2014 involves the hiring of teachers to provide educational support to schools in Funafuti and the outer islands. To date, eight Fijian teachers have been recruited to teach English in various primary schools in Tuvalu. Additionally, in 2016 the Government of Tuvalu contracted an additional eighteen Fiji teachers to assist in teaching in Funafuti and the outer islands. Technical Vocation Skills Development curriculum has been developed for all Primary and Secondary Schools with appropriate budget allocation. The Technical Vocational Skills Development Budget support to the Kaupule total AUD 4,000 annually and is available upon request. The Technical Vocational Skills Development Program is currently offered at Motufoua Secondary School on the island of Vaitupu.
Human rights education
110.The Government of Tuvalu informs the Committee that under the TK III Goal: Provide high quality education; equip people with knowledge and skills to develop more self-reliance; promote Tuvalu ’ s cultural and spiritual values under Outcome 2: Improved relevant learning resources, human resources and sustainable infrastructure development in schools calls for the inclusion, extension and implementation of teaching of life skills, human rights and values education to all school levels. The Ministry of Education is closely working with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community on the development of specific human rights curriculum to be implemented by all schools in Tuvalu.
Other special protection measures
111.The Island Court Act section 8 (1) is repealed in its entirety and replaced to read as follow – 8 (1) in this section, unless the context otherwise requires, the following expressions have the meanings hereby assigned to them, that is to say – “child” means any person under the age of 18 years, “young person” means a person who has attained the age of 18 years and are under the age of 21 years. Further section 8 (3) (a) is amended by increasing the age from “15 years” to “18 years”.
112.The Penal Code under section 14 (age of criminal responsibility) (1) A person under the age of 10 years is not criminally responsible for any act or omission.
113.The Education (Amendment) Bill 2017 proposes to provide more protection for children within school. The Government of Tuvalu informs the Committee that Section 29 of the Education Act has been repealed in its entirety as it contradicts the principles enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child in protecting and respecting the rights and dignity of children. The amendment prohibits corporal punishment in any form and manifestation. The amendment to the Education Act repealing section 29 was passed in its first reading in early 2017.
114.In terms of life imprisonment, the Penal Code has been amended to reduce the punishment for murder from life imprisonment to 15 years as minimum threshold. This amendment applies to all including child offenders.
115.The Tuvalu National Labour Migration Policy and Action Plan is designed to provide a coherent strategy for promoting overseas employment and protecting the welfare of Tuvaluan citizens abroad, within the broader context of generating productive and decent employment opportunities for all Tuvaluan’s. Whilst it is not a comprehensive document on climate change and or disaster risk induced migration. The National Labour Migration Policy ties together plans for educating Tuvalu’s, with a better understanding of what opportunities exist abroad helps to ensure that a cohesive plan for how to create work for Tuvaluan’s.
116.The long-term vision of the National Labour Migration Policy is to provide Tuvaluan citizens with increased opportunities to circulate and migrate for decent work opportunities broad. Without promoting large scale migration, it is part of government policy for temporary labour migration, as well as long term residence overseas, to become realistic options for increasing numbers people who wish to migrate with dignity to pursue opportunities.
J.Ratification of international human rights instruments
117.The Government of Tuvalu informs the Committee that cabinet in 2016 has also approved the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the Optional Protocol to the CRC on communications procedure. It is envisaged that communication on the ratification of the mentioned optional protocols will be conveyed to the United Nations in the first second quarter of 2018. Furthermore, plans are currently underway to convene national consultations (including the outer islands) on the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the Optional Protocol to the CRC on a communications procedure.
K.Regional and international cooperation
118.The national report recognizes the financial and technical support of UNICEF Pacific Regional Office in the compilation of this report. The support provided for by UNICEF has enabled the Government of Tuvalu to widely consult and disseminate the report. It also allowed for the relevant stakeholders to meet and discuss strategies on how to compile the report.
L.Follow-up and dissemination
119.A nationwide consultation was facilitated for the report. Consultations was held in Funafuti and the outer islands with regards the compilation of this report. Consultation was held for specific government and non-government stakeholders including the national disability organization and its members. Consultation was held for permanent secretaries, judiciary, health officials, teachers, officers of government, students, parents and the outer island communities.
120.Additionally, the report also acknowledges the support of Office of the Attorney General in the facilitation of national consultations and the compilation of this national report. This report also acknowledges the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Rural Development and Information and Technology Department, for their assistance in the provision of funding to allow the outer islands to have contributions to the content of this report. This report also acknowledges and recognizes the valuable support from parents, teachers, students, care givers, outer island communities and Fusi Alofa for their contributions to the national report.