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CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES
PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 44 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations of the Committee on
the Rights of the Child: Lebanon
4. In light of its previous recommendations (CRC/C/15/Add.54, para. 23), the Committee notes with satisfaction the legislative changes and the adoption of several new laws, including the law making education until the age of 12 free and compulsory, the amendment of the Labour Law raising the minimum age for employment and the adoption of stricter legislation on child labour, and the extensive legislative changes addressing the rights of children with disabilities.
5. The Committee notes with satisfaction that the State party ratified in 2001 the ILO Convention (No. 182) on the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, and acceded in the year 2000 to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
1. General measures of implementation
7. The Committee regrets that many of the concerns expressed and recommendations made in the concluding observations (CRC/C/15/Add.54) adopted following its consideration of the State party’s initial report (CRC/C/8/Add.23) have been insufficiently addressed. The Committee notes that many of the same concerns are expressed and recommendations made in the present document.
8. The Committee urges the State party to make every effort to address the recommendations contained in the concluding observations on the initial report that have not yet been implemented and to address the list of concerns contained in the present concluding observations on the second periodic report.
9. While noting that part of the national legislation has been amended, and continues to be reviewed, in line with the previous recommendations (ibid, para. 13), the Committee remains concerned about continuing inconsistencies between domestic legislation and the Convention, particularly in the areas of right to nationality, age of marriage, custody, guardianship, inheritance and the rights of refugee children, among others.
10. The Committee recommends that the State party reinforce its efforts towards legal reform, particularly regarding the different confessional justice systems, in cooperation with the confessional groups concerned, with a view to ensuring full conformity of domestic legislation with the principles and provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
11. While noting the completion of the National Plan of Action for Survival, Protection and Development of Children in Lebanon, the Committee observes that this plan falls short of a comprehensive social policy and national strategy for implementing the Convention in line with the Committee’s recommendation, as acknowledged by the State party (CRC/C/15/Add.54, para. 22). The Committee is furthermore concerned that the role of the Higher Council for Children as a mechanism for coordination remains unclear and undefined in practice.
12. The Committee recommends that the State party develop a comprehensive and holistic social and economic strategy, including budget implications and a time frame for the implementation of the rights stipulated in the Convention, and continue its cooperation with UNICEF in this respect. It furthermore reiterates its recommendation to the State party to undertake a review of the present central administrative structures in order to ensure effective coordination of policies and programmes on matters of child rights and child welfare (ibid, para. 22).
13. While noting the significant efforts of the State party to collect reliable data on the situation of children, the Committee is concerned that a specific list of indicators has not yet been adopted to effectively assess progress and design policies to implement the Convention.
14. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Develop child-related indicators in line with the Convention, disaggregated by gender, ethnicity, religion, region and other indicators to assess implementation of the Convention;
(b) Seek technical assistance from, among others, UNICEF in this regard.
Independent monitoring structures
15. The Committee regrets that its previous recommendation to the State party to develop a permanent and multidisciplinary mechanism for monitoring the implementation of the Convention has not been followed up (ibid, para. 24). The Committee notes the information that the Higher Council for Childhood is dealing with complaints about the violations of the rights of children in an informal way, but is concerned that the combination of a coordinating and a monitoring role would hamper effective and independent monitoring of the implementation of the Convention.
16. The Committee encourages the State party:
(a) To reinitiate the process of establishing an independent national human rights institution, in accordance with the Paris Principles relating to the status of national institutions (General Assembly resolution 48/134), to monitor and evaluate progress in the implementation of the Convention at the national and, if appropriate, at the local level, including implementation by the private sector and NGOs as providers of services to children. This institution should be empowered to receive and investigate individual complaints of violations of child rights in a child-sensitive manner and address them effectively; and
(b) To seek technical assistance from, among others, OHCHR and UNICEF.
Allocation of budgetary resources
17. The Committee regrets that the data provided by the State party lack specificity with regard to the amounts allocated to children from the budget. While noting that an increased proportion of GNP has been allocated to social services as compared with 1993, the practical impact of this increase on the situation of children is not clear.
18. In light of articles 2, 3 and 4 of the Convention, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Strengthen its efforts to reduce poverty among children and identify clearly its priorities with respect to child-rights issues in order to ensure that funds are allocated “to the maximum extent of available resources” for the full implementation of the economic, social and cultural rights of children, in particular for children belonging to the most vulnerable groups in society;
(b) Identify the amount and proportion of the State budget spent on children in the public, private and NGO sectors in order to evaluate the impact and effect of the expenditures and also, in view of the costs, the accessibility, quality and effectiveness of the services for children in the various sectors;
(c) Strengthen the overall priority given in the national budget to child-related programmes, in accordance with the Committee’s previous recommendation (ibid, para. 29).
Training/dissemination of the Convention
19. While noting with appreciation the efforts undertaken by the State party to publicize the principles and provisions of the Convention widely, including the convening of a Children’s Parliament and press conference and integration of the Convention in school curricula, as well as the interest of the media, the Committee is of the opinion that the measures to create widespread awareness and understanding of the principles and provisions of the Convention need to be further strengthened and implemented in an ongoing, systematic basis.
20. The Committee reiterates its recommendation (ibid, para. 26) that the State party strengthen its awareness-raising efforts and encourages the State party to undertake systematic education and training on the rights in the Convention for all professional groups working for and with children, in particular parliamentarians, judges, lawyers, law enforcement officials, civil servants, municipal workers, personnel working in institutions and places of detention for children, teachers, health personnel, including psychologists, social workers, religious leaders, as well as children and their parents. Technical assistance from, among others, OHCHR and UNICEF could be requested in this regard.
22. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Take all necessary steps to increase awareness among the confessional groups - e.g. via information campaigns highlighting the de facto average age of marriage - about the need to harmonize the minimum age for marriage, to raise it and to make it the same for boys as for girls;
(b) Raise the minimum age for criminal responsibility and other minimum age requirements in accordance with the principles and provisions of the Convention, and ensure that they are gender neutral and are enforced by law; and
(c) Pursue its plans to erase the gap between the school-leaving age and the minimum age for employment by increasing both to 15, in conformity with ILO Convention No. 138.
23. The Committee welcomes the information on regional policies to eliminate social disparities and promote equal opportunities. However, it is concerned that the principle of non-discrimination (article 2 of the Convention) is not fully implemented for girls, refugee and asylum-seeking children, Palestinian children, children with disabilities, and children living in less advantaged regions and rural areas, especially with regard to their access to health and adequate educational facilities.
24. In accordance with article 2 of the Convention, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Make concerted efforts at all levels to address discrimination, notably discrimination based on gender, disability, religion, and national, ethnic, or social origin, through a review and reorientation of policies, including increased budgetary allocations for programmes targeting the most vulnerable groups;
(b) Ensure effective law enforcement, undertake studies and launch comprehensive public information campaigns to prevent and combat all forms of discrimination; and
(c) In line with the previous recommendation regarding gender discrimination (ibid, para. 28), ensure respect for the rights of girls, especially in relation to the prevention of early marriage.
25. The Committee requests that specific information be included in the next periodic report on the measures and programmes relevant to the Convention on the Rights of the Child undertaken by the State party to follow up on the Declaration and Programme of Action adopted at the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, and taking account of General Comment No. 1 on article 29 (1) of the Convention (aims of education).
Best interests of the child
26. The Committee is concerned that the comparative studies regarding the compatibility between the Convention and domestic legislation have not examined the implications of the general principle of the best interests of the child in relation to the State party’s laws, as previously recommended (CRC/C/15/Add.54, para. 35), its policies on issues such as institutionalization and imprisonment, and its practices with regard to children with disabilities.
27. The Committee reiterates its recommendation to the State party to take all appropriate measures to ensure that the general principle of the best interests of the child is appropriately integrated in all legislation, as well as in judicial and administrative decisions and in policies, programmes and services which have an impact on children.
Right to life
28. Noting the statement by the delegation that the problem of crimes committed in the name of honour do not exist in the State party, the Committee is nevertheless concerned that the provisions relating to “honour crimes” ; remain in the Penal Code. It is deeply concerned at the statement by the delegation that in some cases such crimes are not punished at all.
29. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Rapidly review its legislation with a view to eliminating all provisions allowing sentences to be reduced if the crime in question is committed in the name of honour;
(b) Amend the law in accordance with international standards and ensure prompt and thorough investigations and prosecutions; and
(c) Undertake awareness-raising activities to make such practices socially and morally unacceptable.
Respect for the views of the child
30. Taking note of the efforts by the State party, including the convening of a children’s parliament, the Committee is concerned that respect for the views of the child remains limited owing to traditional societal attitudes towards children in the schools, civil courts, administrative decisions, and especially within the family.
31. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Promote and facilitate, within the family, the schools, the courts and administrative bodies, respect for the views of children and their participation in all matters affecting them, in accordance with article 12 of the Convention;
(b) Develop skills-training programmes in community settings for teachers, social workers, local officials and confessional leaders to enable them to assist children to express their informed views and opinions and to have them taken into consideration; and
(c) Seek assistance from UNICEF, among others.
32. The Committee notes with concern that the law does not grant equal citizenship status to children of Lebanese women married to non-nationals, as it does where the father is Lebanese; this may result in statelessness.
33. The Committee recommends that the State party ensure the right of the child to a nationality without discrimination on the basis of the gender of the parent(s), in accordance with articles 2 and 7 of the Convention.
Right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
34. The Committee is concerned at allegations that children as young as 15 have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment during incommunicado detention.
35. In light of article 37 (a) of the Convention, the Committee strongly recommends that the State party:
(a) Enforce, or, when appropriate, review existing legislation with a view to preventing children being held incommunicado, and investigate in an effective way reported cases of ill-treatment of children;
(b) Ensure that alleged perpetrators are transferred from active duty or suspended while they are under investigation, that they are dismissed and punished if convicted, and that court proceedings and sentences are publicized;
(c) Train law enforcement personnel on child rights issues;
(d) In the light of article 39, take all appropriate measures to ensure the physical and psychological recovery and social integration of child victims of torture and/or ill-treatment.
36. The Committee is deeply concerned at the large number of children placed in institutions, a significant majority of whom are placed there because of socio-economic problems affecting their families and without judicial procedure. It notes with concern that the institutions, which are often run by non-governmental organizations, are contracted by the Ministry of Social Affairs and are not at present subject to monitoring. The Committee notes the information provided by the delegation that legislation and procedures regarding alternative care are in place.
37. The Committee recommends that in the light of article 9, the State party:
(a) Take effective measures to implement fully the legislation relating to alternative care of children to ensure that a child is not separated from his or her parents against its will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review and procedures determine that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child; and
(b) Pursue its plans to review its policies resulting in a large number of children being placed in institutions and improve the monitoring and evaluation of services provided by non-governmental organizations in this regard.
38. The Committee is concerned that violence used as a means of discipline in the home and at school is culturally and legally acceptable in the State party, and regrets that no follow-up to the Committee’s previous recommendation (ibid, para. 37) has been initiated. The Committee is furthermore concerned that there is insufficient information and awareness of domestic violence and its harmful impact on children. Finally, the Committee is concerned that despite its prohibition by ministerial decision, corporal punishment is still practised in schools.
39. The Committee urges the State party urgently to take all legislative measures to prohibit all forms of physical and mental violence, including corporal punishment and sexual abuse, against children in the family and the schools, and furthermore recommends that the State party:
(a) Conduct a study to assess the nature and extent of ill-treatment and abuse of children, and design policies and programmes to address it;
(b) Carry out public education campaigns about the negative consequences of ill-treatment of children, and promote positive, non-violent forms of discipline as an alternative to corporal punishment;
(c) Establish effective procedures and mechanisms to receive, monitor and investigate complaints, including intervening where necessary;
(d) Investigate and prosecute instances of ill-treatment, ensuring that the abused child is not victimized in legal proceedings and that his/her privacy is protected;
(e) Provide care, recovery and reintegration for victims;
(f) Train teachers, law enforcement officials, care workers, judges and health professionals in the identification, reporting and management of ill-treatment cases;
(g) Take into consideration the recommendations of the Committee adopted at its days of general discussion on children and violence (see CRC/C/100, para. 688 and CRC/C/111, paras. 701-745);
(h) Seek assistance from, among others, UNICEF and WHO.
40. While welcoming the extensive legislation adopted for children with disabilities, the Committee remains concerned that children with disabilities continue to be subject to discrimination in the areas of health coverage, access to specialized services, family support and education.
41. The Committee urges the State party:
(a) To review existing policies and practice in relation to children with disabilities, taking due regard of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (General Assembly resolution 48/96) and of the Committee’s recommendations adopted at its day of general discussion on children with disabilities (see CRC/C/69);
(b) To make greater efforts to provide the necessary resources (financial and professional);
(c) To make greater efforts to promote community-based rehabilitation programmes and inclusive education;
(d) To make greater efforts in the area of prevention by reviewing, inter alia, health programmes and policies relating to pregnancy, birth and child health; and
(e) To seek assistance from, among others, UNICEF, WHO and relevant NGOs.
Right to health and health care
42. The Committee notes the achievements by the State party in the area of health care, notably the downward long-term trend in infant and child mortality and the improvements in the area of immunization. It further notes the large increase in the percentage of the budget allocated to this sector. Nevertheless, the Committee is concerned about the unequal enjoyment of the right to access primary health-care services by children in different parts of the country, resulting in wide regional and social variations in infant and child mortality and the quality of care. The Committee is deeply concerned that children do not enjoy equal access to quality health care owing to the high cost of health care and the failure of insurance schemes to provide full coverage, and in part to the domination of the health sector by the private sector and significant differences between the quality of the care provided by the public versus the private sector. The Committee regrets that any follow-up to its previous recommendation (ibid, para. 30) has had little impact on the realization of the right to health for children.
43. The Committee urges the State party:
(a) To reinforce its efforts to allocate appropriate resources and develop and adopt policies and programmes to improve and protect the health situation of children, particularly in the regions with the highest mortality rates;
(b) To ensure equal access to and quality of health care for all children, independent of socio-economic factors, and encourages the State party to provide health insurance for all children, irrespective of whether their parents are working;
(c) To initiate effective follow-up to its previous recommendation and in view of the high budgetary expenditures in the health sector in particular, to examine the impact on the practical realization of the right to health for all children irrespective of socio-economic factors;
(d) To consider adopting and implementing the integrated management of childhood illness strategy to combat the most common childhood illnesses and malnutrition ; and
(e) To seek technical assistance from, among others, WHO and UNICEF.
44. With reference to its previous recommendation (ibid, paras. 34, 38) the Committee notes the difficulties acknowledged by the State party in enforcing a law prohibiting the free distribution of milk substitutes and notes that the commercial marketing of infant formula is still widespread. It also notes with deep concern that one in every five married women is married to her maternal or paternal cousin or another relative, and that 30 per cent of disabled children are born to consanguineous marriages.
45. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Strengthen its efforts to promote breastfeeding and encourage the introduction of adequate maternity leave for all working mothers in the spirit of article 18 (2); and
(b) To disseminate information on the risks to the health of children born to consanguineous marriages and encourage premarital testing.
Standard of living
46. The Committee is concerned that the overall standard of living of many children is very low, as measured by income-related indicators such as access to housing, water, sanitation and education. In particular, it expresses concern at the large regional disparities in living standards, particularly with regard to children living in the governorates of the north, Nabatiyah and Bekaa, and Palestinian children.
47. The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to improve the standard of living of children, giving particular attention to housing, water and sanitation, as well as education. The Committee further recommends the adoption of measures to reduce regional disparities.
48. While noting with appreciation the number of initiatives undertaken, in particular the law making basic education free and compulsory until the age of 12 and the intention to raise it further to 15, the Committee is nevertheless concerned about the implementation of the law, including that public education is not entirely free. The Committee is furthermore concerned at the lack of public structures in early childhood education, regional disparities, the differences in cost and quality between State and private schools, which create inequality, the high drop-out rates after primary education, the low number of trained teachers, as well as reports of family preference for male over female children when fees are charged.
49. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Take all appropriate measures, including the allocation of adequate financial, human and technical resources, to improve the situation and aims of education, taking into account general comment No. 1 on article 29 (1) of the Convention (aims of education), both with regard to quality as well as relevance, and to ensure that all children enjoy the right to education;
(b) Take the necessary steps to achieve its goal of making education free and compulsory until the age of 15;
(c) Seek to implement additional measures to promote early childhood education and encourage children to stay in school, and adopt effective measures to reduce illiteracy;
(d) Place stronger emphasis on public education, with a view to ensuring that all children subject to the jurisdiction of the State enjoy this fundamental right, and prevent any risk of discrimination, in accordance with the Committee’ s previous recommendation (ibid, para. 30) regarding the growing role of private educational institutions;
(e) Continue cooperation with UNESCO and UNICEF in improving and activating the education sector.
50. The Committee notes with concern the negative impact of the past armed conflict on children, including increasing vulnerability to socio-economic deprivation, displacement and injury from landmines, as well as of past practices of recruitment of children by armed groups during the civil war.
51. The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation (ibid, para. 42) and urges the State party to continue and strengthen its efforts to provide for adequate psychosocial recovery and reintegration of victims of violence and the armed conflict in Lebanon. It also encourages the State party to continue and strengthen its demining activities and to seek the necessary technical and financial support from the international community.
52. The Committee is concerned at the absence of legislative or administrative provisions to protect refugee children. Issues of concern include the fact that only men may confer citizenship upon their children, instances of separation of children from their asylum-seeking parents during detention, as well as difficulties regarding full access to education.
53. The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation (ibid, para. 41) that the State party accede to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. It further encourages the State party to accede to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. Furthermore, it encourages the State party to ensure that refugee children are provided with proper documentation, refrain from separating refugee children from their parents, facilitate family reunification and ensure the right to education for all refugee children.
54. The Committee is concerned about the high rate of Palestinian children living below the poverty line, as well as the lack of adequate access by Palestinian children to many basic rights, including health, education and an adequate standard of living, and about the quality of services provided.
55. The Committee reiterates its recommendation (ibid, para. 40) that the State party, in cooperation with United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, seek ways of addressing the socio-economic problems among Palestinian children that affect children negatively, including teaching about the Convention in the school and include children in development programmes.
56. While noting the measures taken by the State party in this sector, including raising the minimum age for employment, the Committee is concerned that despite stricter laws on child labour, a high percentage of working children are involved in activities which represent a danger to their health and development. The Committee welcomes the collaboration with ILO/IPEC in combating and preventing child labour.
57. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Continue and strengthen its cooperation with ILO/IPEC and carry out campaigns to inform and sensitize the general public, especially parents and children, of work hazards, as well as strengthen labour inspections and law enforcement; and
(b) Make every effort to ratify and implement ILO Convention (No. 138) on the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment and seek assistance from ILO in this regard.
58. The Committee is concerned at the insufficient data on and awareness of the phenomenon of sexual exploitation of children in Lebanon.
59. In light of article 34 and other related articles of the Convention, the Committee recommends that the State party undertake studies with a view to assessing the scope of commercial sexual exploitation of children, including prostitution and pornography, and implement appropriate policies and programmes for preventing such exploitation and for the rehabilitation and recovery of child victims in accordance with the Declaration and Agenda for Action and the Global Commitment adopted at the 1996 and 2001 World Congresses against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.
Administration of juvenile justice
60. While welcoming the initiation of a process of reform of the law on juvenile justice in line with the previous recommendation (CRC/C/15/Add.54, para. 44), the Committee is concerned about reports that the draft does not comply with several provisions of the Convention. The Committee notes that the draft is still under consideration and that necessary amendments or other changes can still be made. The Committee is furthermore concerned about the failure to separate juveniles, particularly girls, in conflict with the law from adults, and that juveniles are often held in adult prisons.
61. The Committee recommends that the State party expedite the review of the draft legislation in order to:
(a) Establish as soon as possible a system of juvenile justice, fully integrating into its legislation and practice the provisions of the Convention, in particular articles 37, 40 and 39, as well as other relevant international standards in this area, such as the Beijing Rules, the Riyadh Guidelines, the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty and the Vienna Guidelines for Action on Children in the Criminal Justice System ;
(b) Ensure that deprivation of liberty is only used as a measure of last resort, that children have access to legal aid and independent and effective complaints mechanisms, and that persons under 18 are not detained with adults;
(c) Treat children or juveniles in conflict with the law and children or juveniles at risk in a different and distinct manner so that they are not placed in the same institutions with the same regimes or restrictions; and
(d) Seek assistance from, among others, OHCHR, the Centre for International Crime Prevention, the International Network on Juvenile Justice and UNICEF, through the Coordination Panel on Technical Advice and Assistance on Juvenile Justice.