Committee on the Rights of the Child
Concluding observations on the combined third to sixth periodic reports of Cuba *
1.The Committee considered the combined third to sixth periodic reports of Cuba at its 2596th and 2597th meetings, heldon 11 and 12 May 2022, and adopted the present concluding observations at its 2630th meeting, held on 3 June 2022.
2.The Committee welcomes the submission of the combined third to sixth periodic reports of the State party and the written replies to the list of issues, which allowed for a better understanding of the situation of children’s rights in the State party. The Committee expresses its appreciation for the constructive dialogue held with the high-level and multisectoral delegation of the State party.
II.Follow-up measures taken and progress achieved by the State party
3.The Committee welcomes the progress achieved by the State party in various areas, including the adoption of a new Constitution in April 2019 which recognizes children as the subject of rights and integrates the principle of the best interests of the child. The Committee welcomes the various legislative, institutional and policy measures taken by the State party to implement the Convention, including the allocation of 48.7 per cent of the State budget to health and education, and the significant progress in reducing child mortality.
III.Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Convention
4.The Committee notes the continuing negative economic and social effects of the embargo imposed by the Unites States of America, which limits children’s enjoyment of their rights and the full implementation of the Convention.
IV.Main areas of concern and recommendations
5.The Committee reminds the State party of the indivisibility and interdependence of all the rights enshrined in the Convention and emphasizes the importance of all the recommendations contained in the present concluding observations. The Committee would like to draw the State party’s attention to the recommendations concerning the following areas, in respect of which urgent measures must be taken: freedom of association and peaceful assembly (para. 26), sexual abuse (para. 32), children deprived of a family environment (para. 35), nutrition (para. 41), inclusive education (para. 44) and child justice (para. 48).
6. The Committee recommends that the State party ensure the realization of children ’ s rights in accordance with the Convention, the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict and the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, throughout the process of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It urges the State party to ensure the meaningful participation of children in the design and implementation of policies and programmes aimed at achieving all 17 Sustainable Development Goals as far as they concern children.
A.General measures of implementation (arts. 4, 42 and 44 (6))
7. The Committee recommends that the State party develop a comprehensive law on children ’ s rights and continue to review its existing laws related to children ’ s rights, in particular the draft Family Code, to ensure that they are in full compliance with the principles and provisions of the Convention.
Comprehensive policy and strategy
8. The Committee notes that the National Action Plan for Children, Adolescents and their Families (2015–2020) is the Government ’ s policy document on children ’ s rights and recommends that the State party evaluate it and update it, assign the appropriate budget for its implementation, make it publicly available and ensure children can take part in discussing and elaborating future plans.
9. The Committee takes note that the First Vice-President of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers is the national authority responsible for children ’ s rights but urges the State party to establish a dedicated body at a high interministerial level with a clear mandate and sufficient authority to coordinate all activities related to the implementation of the Convention at cross-sectoral, national, regional and local levels. The State party should ensure that the said coordinating body is provided with the necessary human, technical and financial resources for its effective operation .
Allocation of resources
10. Recalling its general comment No. 19 (2016) on public budgeting for the realization of children ’ s rights, and taking into consideration that the Constitution of 2019 establishes a degree of financial autonomy for the municipalities, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Utilize a child-rights approach in the elaboration of the State budget, by implementing a tracking system for the allocation and the use of resources for children throughout the budget. The State party should also use this tracking system for impact assessments on how investments in any sector may serve the best interests of the child, ensuring that the different impact of such investment on girls and boys is measured;
(b) Ensure transparent and participatory budgeting through public dialogue, especially with children and adolescents, and for proper accountability of local authorities.
11. Recalling its general comment No. 5 (2003) on general measures of implementation of the Convention, the Committee recommends that the State party continue to invest in collecting comprehensive and multidimensional data on all areas of the Convention and the Optional Protocols thereto , disaggregated by age, sex, geographic location, ethnicity and socioeconomic background, paying particular attention to domestic violence, sexual abuse, school dropout and the child justice system.
12. The Committee recalls its previous recommendations and, taking note of the information provided in paragraphs 22 to 27 of the State party ’ s report, recommends that the State party :
(a) Establish as soon as possible an independent mechanism for monitoring human rights, including a specific mechanism for monitoring children ’ s rights that is able to receive, investigate and address complaints by children in a child-sensitive and child-friendly manner ;
(b) Guarantee the independence of such monitoring mechanism, including with regard to its funding and mandate, so as to ensure its full compliance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (the Paris Principles);
(c) Seek, in this regard, technical cooperation from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Children ’ s Fund and the United Nations Development Programme, among other entities.
Dissemination, awareness-raising and training
13. The Committee welcomes the actions undertaken to strengthen knowledge among children and training of professionals on children ’ s rights and recommends that the State party continue to invest in awareness-raising programmes, including campaigns, in cooperation with civil society organizations, to ensure that the Convention and the Optional Protocols thereto are widely known by the general public, and in particular by parents and children themselves.
Cooperation with civil society
14. The Committee notes the high level of participation of civil society in the drafting of the Constitution of 2019 and recommends that the State party promote an independent and plural civil society and continually cooperate with non-governmental organizations and children ’ s organizations in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, plans and programmes related to children ’ s rights.
Children’s rights and the business sector
15. Taking into consideration the Constitution of 2019 and the new Cuban economic model allowing for some activities to be carried out by private actors, and recalling its general comment No. 16 (2013) on State obligations regarding the impact of the business sector on children ’ s rights and the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights endorsed by the Human Rights Council in 2011 , the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Establish and implement regulations to ensure that the business sector complies with international and national human rights, labour, environment and other standards, particularly with regard to children ’ s rights;
(b) Undertake awareness-raising campaigns with the tourism industry and the public at large on the prevention of sexual exploitation of children in the context of travel and tourism and widely disseminate the World Tourism Organization global code of ethics for tourism among travel agents and in the tourism industry;
(c) Strengthen its international cooperation against sexual exploitation of children in the context of travel and tourism through multilateral, regional and bilateral arrangements for its prevention and elimination.
B.Definition of the child (art. 1)
16. Concerned with the high rates of child marriage, the Committee urges the State party to adopt the draft Family Code as soon as possible and remove all exceptions that allow marriage for those under 18 years of age.
C.General principles (arts. 2–3, 6 and 12)
17. The Committee notes that articles 42–44 of the Constitution of 2019 strengthen the right to non-discrimination, and, recalling target 5.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals, recommends that the State party prioritize measures to combat gender and racial stereotypes in all settings, paying particular attention to the family and school settings.
Best interests of the child
18. The Committee welcomes the inclusion of the principle of the best interests of the child in article 86 of the Constitution of 2019 and the increasing application of this principle by the courts. Recalling its general comment No. 14 (2013) on the right of the child to have his or her best interests taken as a primary consideration, it recommends that the State party develop further procedures and criteria to provide guidance to all relevant persons in authority for assessing and determining the best interests of the child in all areas covered by the Convention and its Optional Protocols and for giving them due weight as a primary consideration. The Committee also recommends that the State party provide regular training on the application of the best interests principle.
Right to life
19. While welcoming the Road Safety Code (Law No. 109) and the work of the Road Safety Commission, the Committee remains concerned about the continuing high rate of deaths among children from road accidents and urges the State party to develop additional measures and strategies to eradicate the problem, particularly by further identifying and addressing the root causes of such accidents.
Respect for the views of the child
20. The Committee welcomes the recognition of children as subjects of rights in article 86 of the 2019 Constitution and notes instruction No. 216/2012 of the People ’ s Supreme Court on hearing children ’ s views during judicial proceeding. Recalling its general comment No. 12 (2009) on the right of the child to be heard, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Ensure the effective implementation of legislation recognizing the right of the child to be heard in relevant judicial and administrative proceedings;
(b) Review article 107 of the Family Code, which recognizes consideration by the courts of the wishes only of children who are 7 years or older in adoption cases, and involve children in a way that reflects the evolving capacities of each child;
(c) Promote the meaningful participation of all children within the family, communities and schools and include them in decision-making in all matters related to children, including legislative processes, paying particular attention to girls, children living in poverty, and children with disabilities.
D.Civil rights and freedoms (arts. 7–8 and 13–17)
21. The Committee notes the information that more than 99 per cent of births occur at health centres where birth registration procedures are carried out and recommends that the State party further create a conducive environment for the discharge of the obligation to report a birth to the civil registry within 30 days after its occurrence.
22. The Committee welcomes Decree Law No. 352 on the acquisition of Cuban citizenship for those born abroad of a Cuban mother or father, of 2017, facilitating access to Cuban nationality for children born abroad, and recommends that the State party consider ratifying the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, of 1954, and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, of 1961.
Freedom of expression
23. The Committee notes with appreciation that article 54 of the 2019 Constitution ensures the right to freedom of expression, and recommends that the State party create conditions for the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression among children, by preventing any disproportionate restrictions and by paying particular attention to girls, children with disabilities and children living in rural areas.
Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
24. The Committee appreciates that article 57 of the 2019 Constitution ensures the right to freedom of religion, and recommends that the State party ensure that children have full enjoyment of the right, including by promoting the right to freedom of religion within the family and through the media.
Freedom of association and peaceful assembly
25.While the Committee notes with appreciation that the right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly was included in article 56 of the 2019 Constitution, the Committee is highly concerned about the full enjoyment of the right by children and about reports of:
(a)Actions by the State party to severely restrict the rights of political activists, in particular child activists and children of activists;
(b)Several children, some as young as 13 years old, being violently detained, taken from their homes overnight without their families being informed of their whereabouts, and being held incommunicado and transferred to different installations for interrogation for long hours, after taking part in the protests in July 2021, with a number of them still being deprived of their liberty;
(c)Criminal prosecution of children, several of whom were convicted and sentenced from 5 to 15 years of deprivation of liberty as a result of exercising their right to peaceful assembly.
26. The Committee urges the State party to:
(a) Put an end to any arbitrary restrictions and criminalization of children ’ s exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly;
(b) Ensure that the enjoyment of the right is undertaken in a non-discriminatory manner;
(c) Take measures to prevent the use of excessive force by law enforcement officials policing assemblies, and hold those who violate the rights of children in this context to account;
(d) Review its legislation, namely the Associations Act, No. 54 of 1985, to ensure that children can effectively exercise the right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly, including in organizations other than the José Martí Pioneer Organization and the Federación Estudiantil de la Enseñanza Media;
(e) Review and/or consider through appeal the severity and proportionality of sentences imposed on children who were found guilty for exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly in the context of the July 2021 protests.
Right to privacy and access to appropriate information
27. The Committee notes the exponential increase in Internet access and the greater Internet usage during the pandemic, and the laws, resolutions and regulations adopted to protect children from harmful online content. Recalling its general comment No. 25 (2021) on children ’ s rights in relation to the digital environment, it recommends that the State party:
(a) Enhance the digital literacy and skills of children, professionals working with children and families;
(b) Protect children from information and material harmful to their well-being, without limiting their access to a variety of age-appropriate information, including that related to sexual and reproductive health;
(c) Ensure that children can have access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources.
E.Violence against children (arts. 19, 24 (3), 28 (2), 34, 37 (a) and 39)
Torture and other cruel or degrading treatment or punishment
28. While being very concerned about the allegations received about abuse and mistreatment during the arrests of children and adolescents that occurred as a result of the 2021 protests, the Committee urges the State party to investigate reports of violent and arbitrary detention, incommunicado detention, enforced disappearances, ill-treatment and torture of children detained during the protests of July 2021, to identify, prosecute and punish those responsible for the abuse and ill-treatment of children and to offer reparation to the child victims.
29. The Committee notes with concern that the current Family Code permits “ moderate ” punishment of children by parents and guardians, and because of its widespread social acceptance, the Committee, recalling its general comment No. 8 (2006) on corporal punishment, and its previous recommendations, urges the State party to:
(a) Explicitly prohibit corporal punishment in law in all settings, including in the home, childcare institutions, alternative care settings, schools and penal institutions;
(b) Establish protocols and procedures to take action when corporal punishment takes place;
(c) Consolidate a national system of data collection and analysis of corporal punishment;
(d) Strongly invest in promoting positive, non-violent and participatory forms of child-rearing and discipline;
(e) Intensify awareness-raising campaigns for parents and professionals working with and for children to promote attitudinal change, within the family and the community, with regard to corporal punishment.
Abuse and neglect
30. In the light of its general comment No. 13 (2011) on the right of the child to freedom from all forms of violence, and recalling its previous recommendations, the Committee recommends that the State party :
(a) Develop a regulatory and institutional framework to ensure the effective protection of children from violence;
(b) Continue investing in awareness-raising and education programmes – including campaigns – with the meaningful involvement of children, for preventing and combating child abuse;
(c) Encourage community-based and family-based programmes aimed at preventing and tackling domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, including by involving former child victims, volunteers and community members ;
(d) Put into place accessible, confidential and child-friendly mechanisms to facilitate and promote reporting of violence against children, and make it mandatory for educational, health and social workers to report all incidents they are aware of;
(e) Strengthen the Attorney General Office ’ s Directorate of Family Protection and Jurisdictional Affairs, to ensure that all reported cases of abuse of children are promptly investigated and prosecuted, applying a child-friendly and multisectoral approach with the aim of avoiding the revictimization of the child;
(f) Establish a national database on all cases of violence against children, including domestic violence, and undertake a comprehensive assessment of the extent, causes and nature of such violence.
31.The Committee is very concerned about cases of sexual abuse of children, which in 2015 alone amounted to 2,274 child victims, and about the lack of public, updated, and disaggregated information on these cases, which does not allow for an understanding of the types of measures taken to address these crimes and their effectiveness.
32. The Committee urges the State party to:
(a) With the participation of children, strengthen community-based awareness-raising and education programmes aimed at preventing and tackling child sexual abuse, targeting, in particular, children, families, communities and schools;
(b) Ensure the mandatory reporting in all settings of suspicion of sexual abuse;
(c) Conduct a comprehensive study on the scope and root causes of the vulnerability of children to sexual abuse, including in the family, and apply the findings in the development of a national action plan to prevent and combat this issue;
(d) Combat the stigmatization of children who are victims of sexual abuse, and establish accessible, confidential, child-friendly services and continue investing in specialized support for child victims, including psychological counselling and rehabilitation and social integration assistance;
(e) Regularly collect and publish disaggregated data on all reported cases of sexual abuse against children, on the number of investigations and prosecutions conducted, and on the number and type of sentences served.
F.Family environment and alternative care (arts. 5, 9–11, 18 (1)–(2),20–21, 25 and 27 (4))
33. The Committee welcomes the protection of the family in chapter 3 of the 2019 Constitution, and recommends that the State party promptly adopt the draft Family Code to define and regulate children ’ s right to family recognized in the Convention, and that it continue taking measures to raise awareness of and foster responsible parenthood.
Children deprived of a family environment
34.The Committee appreciates that the alternative care system in the State party, known as the system of homes for children without family protection, aims at re-establishing family ties, is well resourced and is run by professional staff. However, the Committee is concerned about:
(a)Limited investment and availability of foster care opportunities;
(b)Separation of children from parents considered financially insolvent;
(c)De facto prohibition for parents, who terminated a civilian contract abroad, from reuniting with their children, sometimes for as long as eight years, and about the impact on children’s health and well-being of years of separation from their parents;
(d)The lack of a specific child-friendly complaint mechanism.
35. Drawing the State party ’ s attention to the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children and the best interests of the child, the Committee recalls its previous recommendations and recommends that the State party :
(a) Ensure that the draft Family Code defines and regulates the alternative care system which should promote foster care over institutional care, and adopt a national policy on the alternative care system;
(b) Ensure that policies and practices are guided by the principle that financial and material poverty – or conditions directly and uniquely attributable to such poverty – should never be the sole justification for removing a child from parental care, for receiving a child into alternative care or for preventing a child ’ s social reintegration;
(c) Put an end to all separation of children from their parents due to their parents deciding to end a labour contract, and modify article 135 (1) of the Criminal Code to remove obstacles that impede family reunification;
(d) Establish accessible and child-friendly channels for reporting, monitoring and remedying maltreatment of children in care and ensure that all reported incidents are promptly investigated and remedied;
(e) Review and update Decree Law No. 76/84 and Resolution No. 48/84 regarding children without a family environment, including bringing it into line with the Convention.
Children of incarcerated parents
36. Concerned with the negative effects on young children whose mother has been deprived of liberty, the Committee recommends that the State party seek alternative measures to institutional confinement for pregnant women and mothers with small children, wherever possible.
G.Children with disabilities (art. 23)
37. Noting the prohibition of discrimination based on disability in article 42 of the 2019 Constitution, and recalling its general comment No. 9 (2006) on the rights of children with disabilities, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Develop a comprehensive strategy for the inclusion of children with disabilities and the collection of disaggregated data on children with disabilities, including those placed in the alternative care system and medical institutions;
(b) Put in place specific legislation and appropriate policies and programmes to protect children with disabilities and to facilitate access for children with all types of disabilities to inclusive education and health services, to social protection, to sports facilities and programmes and to the arts and culture.
H.Basic health and welfare (arts. 6, 18 (3), 24, 26, 27 (1)–(3) and 33)
Health and health services
38. The Committee commends the State party for its continuing commitment to the universal provision of primary health care. Recalling its previous recommendations and its general comment No. 15 (2013) on the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, and taking note of target 3.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Strengthen its efforts to decrease maternal mortality and under-five child mortality rates;
(b) Take measures to reduce the number of children born underweight;
(c) Expeditiously address the shortage of medical supplies and staff to attend to child patients.
39. The Committee notes the various programmes and plans containing adolescent reproductive health rights and promoting a healthy lifestyle, but is concerned about the prevalence of pregnancy and risk-taking behaviour among teenagers. Recalling its general comment No. 4 (2003) on adolescent health and its general comment No. 20 (2016) on the implementation of the rights of the child during adolescence, and taking note of targets 3.7 and 5.6 of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Strengthen its efforts to empower adolescent girls and boys by increasing their access to relevant information and their ability to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health;
(b) Reinforce the preparation of teachers and health professionals to address and provide counselling to adolescents in a respectful, informative and non-judgmental manner to ensure that all girls and boys, including those who are out of school and those in rural areas, receive confidential and child-friendly sexual and reproductive health information and services, including access to free contraceptives;
(c) Continue developing community and family-based awareness-raising programmes on adolescent health, including on the issues of mental health, sexual and reproductive health, and consumption of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs;
(d) Update the National Health Programme for Comprehensive Care of Adolescents (2012–2017) and ensure that sexual and reproductive health education is part of the mandatory school curriculum at all levels and targeted at adolescent girls and boys, and pays special attention to preventing early pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
40.The Committee notes the State party’s policies for addressing iron deficiency anaemia, overweight and obesity among children, including its National Plan for the Prevention and Control of Iron Deficiency Anaemia and the national food and nutrition surveillance system. However, it remains very concerned about the high and increasing rates of iron deficiency, overweight and obesity among children, which are recognized as a public health problem.
41. Recalling its previous recommendations and ta king note of Goal 3 and target 2.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Committee urges the State party to:
(a) Strengthen efforts to prevent anaemia among children by promoting proper infant and young-child feeding practices, including promoting breastfeeding for the first six months of infancy, providing nutritional supplements for breastfeeding mothers, implementing the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes as well as targeted interventions to prevent and treat iron deficiency anaemia, and raising public awareness of good nutrition;
(b) Undertake a study on the causes of anaemia among young children and pregnant women and, based on the findings, formulate and implement programmes to address the issue;
(c) Intensify measures to combat overweight and obesity in children, including by carrying out studies into its root causes; raise awareness about healthy nutrition among parents, children and the general public; promote healthy eating habits, particularly among children and adolescents; regulate the marketing of unhealthy foods to children and adolescents; and introduce strategies that enable poor households to access healthy food.
Standard of living
42. Concerned that the State party is facing the worst economic crisis in recent years, marked by an acute shortage of food, medicines, raw materials and other critical supplies, the Committee recommends continued investment and taking such measures as are necessary to ensure that there is no shortage of food, raw materials and medical and other supplies to attain an acceptable standard of living for children.
I.Education, leisure and cultural activities (arts. 28–31)
Education, including vocational training and guidance
43.The Committee commends the State party for its commitment to free universal education, which is reflected in a literacy rate of 99.8 per cent. However, the Committee remains concerned about the still high number of children with disabilities in the special education regime, the limited measures taken by the State party to promote inclusive education as the main education model, and the negative effect of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
44. Recalling its previous recommendations and taking note of target 4.5 of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Committee urges the State party to:
(a) Set up comprehensive measures to promote inclusive education and ensure that all children with disabilities have access to inclusive education in mainstream schools, ensuring that schools are equipped with trained teachers, accessible infrastructure and teaching materials adapted to the needs of children with disabilities;
(b) Train and assign specialized teachers and professionals in integrated classes providing individual support and tailored assistance to children with disabilities;
(c) Undertake interventions to address the learning loss that has been experienced as a result of school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
J.Special protection measures (arts. 22, 30, 32–33, 35–36, 37 (b)–(d) and 38–40)
Asylum-seeking and refugee children
45. While noting the de facto temporary protection that the State party offers to refugees until a resettlement country is found, and the provision of free health services and education to refugee children, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Amend national legislation on migration (including Law No. 1313 of 1976, on aliens; and Decree Law No. 302 of 2012, on migration), and establish procedures to cover the principle of non-refoulement, including of children;
(b) Grant refugee and asylum-seeking children and their families an immigration status that allows them to access all rights and services while in the country;
(c) Develop policies and procedures to guarantee family, community and educational reintegration of repatriated migrant children.
Economic exploitation, including child labour
46. The Committee welcomes the ratification in 2015 of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) and the prohibition of child labour in article 66 of the 2019 Constitution. Taking note of target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals, it recommends that the State party continue investing in measures to monitor and inspect self-employed activities to prevent and address non-compliance with child labour standards.
Administration of child justice
47.The Committee notes with appreciation that the minimum age of criminal responsibility is 16 years and that studies have been conducted on the administration of justice for children aged 16 and 17 years with a view to improving it. However, the Committee remains concerned about:
(a)The child justice and related administrative systems’ legal norms not being in compliance with the Convention, as currently they do not establish the primacy of the principle of the best interests of the child for everyone under 18 years of age, and are not harmonized with the Convention’s other general principles;
(b)The administrative system responsible for children under 16 years of age still not including all the substantive and procedural guarantees found in international standards, such as the right to a defence, the right not to incriminate oneself and the right to appeal, as well as about the lack of a review and appeal mechanism;
(c)The continuing absence of a specialized justice system for children aged 16 and 17 ensuring all the protection afforded by the Convention;
(d)The limited information publicly available about data and statistics on all children under 18 years who are handled by the council for minors (numbering around 1,000 a year), who are placed in comprehensive development schools (approximately 150 a year) and those aged 16 and 17 who are deprived of liberty (around 260 a year);
(e)The length of child pretrial detention and the absence of a limit to it while awaiting trial; and about the severity of penalties.
48. Recalling its general comment No. 24 (2019) on children ’ s rights in the child justice system and with reference to the United Nations Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, the Committee urges the State party to bring its child justice system fully into line with the Convention and other relevant standards, and in particular to:
(a) Carry out a comprehensive review of the administrative and judicial norms governing both the system for children under 18 years of age and the system for children above 16 years of age to fully align them with the Convention – including of Decree Law No. 64/82 (and complementary provisions), Ministry of the Interior order No. 19/1995, Ministry of Education Resolution No. 40/83, Law No. 83/97 (Attorney General ’ s Office), Law No. 62/88 (Criminal Code) and Decree Law No. 310 of 2013;
(b) Review its administrative system governing the council for minors and the comprehensive development schools with a view to ensuring that children aged below 18 years have the minimum substantive and procedural guarantees related to criminal proceedings, including the right to a defence, the right not to incriminate themselves and the right to appeal, and put in place an independent review and appeal mechanism;
(c) Expeditiously establish specialized child justice systems and procedures, for children of all ages, with adequate human, technical and financial resources, and with designated specialized prosecutors and judges and ensure that they receive appropriate education and training;
(d) Regularly collect and publish disaggregated data on all children under 18 years of age who are handled by the administrative and legal justice systems;
(e) Avoid pretrial detention of children, shorten its length and establish a limit, provide access to justice, and ensure due process and adherence to child justice principles in all cases involving children; and expeditiously review and conclude appeals against sentences, in particular sentences of supervision and confinement, imposed on children involved in the July 2021 protests.
K.Follow-up to the Committee’s previous concluding observations and recommendations concerning the implementation of the Optional Protocols to the Convention
Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
49. The Committee regrets the lack of information on the implementation of its concluding observations on the State party ’ s report under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Recalling its 2019 guidelines on the implementation of the Optional Protocol, and recalling its previous concluding observations on the State party ’ s report submitted under article 12 of the Optional Protocol, the Committee urges the State party to amend its legislation to:
(a) Extend the offence of corruption of minors to include children between the ages of 16 and 18;
(b) Incorporate a comprehensive definition of the sale of children, which includes the acts of offering, delivering or accepting a child for the purpose of sexual exploitation, illegal adoption, engagement in forced labour, or transfer of organs for profit, in accordance with article 3 (1) (a) of the Optional Protocol;
(c) Expand the definition of child pornography in accordance with articles 2 (c) and 3 (1) (c) of the Optional Protocol to explicitly encompass all acts of producing, distributing, disseminating, importing, exporting, offering, selling, possessing or knowingly accessing or viewing child pornography;
(d) Establish extraterritorial jurisdiction over the offences referred to in article 3 (1) of the Optional Protocol;
(e) Ensure that children who are victims of trafficking are never subjected to criminal procedures or sanctions for offences related to their situation as trafficked persons.
Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict
50. The Committee regrets the lack of information on the implementation of its concluding observations on the State party ’ s report under the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict. Recalling its previous concluding observations on the report of the State party submitted under article 8 of the Optional Protocol, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Set 18 years as the minimum age for voluntary recruitment into the armed forces;
(b) Prohibit and criminalize the recruitment and use of children under the age of 18 in hostilities by armed forces, non-State armed groups and security companies;
(c) Define and punish the recruitment of children under the age of 15 as a war crime;
(d) Define the minimum age for participating in hostilities as 18, including in times of national emergency;
(e) Ban military-type training, including the use of firearms, for children under the age of 18, and ensure that any military school for children takes into account human rights principles;
(f) Ensure that child members of the Production and Defence Brigades are prohibited effectively from participating in hostilities in cases of national emergency.
L.Ratification of the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure
51. The Committee recommends that the State party, in order to further strengthen the fulfilment of children ’ s rights, ratify the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure.
M.Ratification of international human rights instruments
52. The Committee recommends that the State party, in order to further strengthen the fulfilment of children ’ s rights, consider ratifying the following core human rights instruments to which it is not yet a party:
(a) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
(b) International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;
(c) International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families;
(d) Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
V.Implementation and reporting
A.Follow-up and dissemination
53. The Committee recommends that the State party take all appropriate measures to ensure that the recommendations contained in the present concluding observations are fully implemented and that a child-friendly version is disseminated to, and made widely accessible for, children, including those in the most disadvantaged situations. The Committee also recommends that the combined third to sixth periodic reports, the written replies to the list of issues and the present concluding observations be made widely available in the languages of the country.
B.National mechanism for reporting and follow-up
54. The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its national mechanism for reporting and follow-up and ensure that it has the mandate and the adequate human, technical and financial resources to effectively coordinate and prepare reports to international and regional human rights mechanisms and to coordinate and track national follow-up to, and implementation of, treaty obligations and the recommendations and decisions emanating from such mechanisms. The Committee emphasizes that such a structure should be adequately and continuously supported by dedicated staff and should have the capacity to consult systematically with civil society.
55. The Committee invites the State party to submit its combined seventh and eighth periodic reports by 19 September 2027 and to include therein information on the follow-up to the present concluding observations. The report should be in compliance with the Committee ’ s harmonized treaty-specific reporting guidelines and should not exceed 21,200 words. In the event that a report exceeding the established word limit is submitted, the State party will be asked to shorten the report. If the State party is not in a position to review and resubmit the report, translation thereof for the purposes of consideration by the treaty body cannot be guaranteed.
56. The Committee also invites the State party to submit an updated core document, not exceeding 42,400 words, in accordance with the requirements for the common core document contained in the harmonized guidelines on reporting under the international human rights treaties, including guidelines on a common core document and treaty-specific documents and paragraph 16 of General Assembly resolution 68/268.