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“All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-Article 27 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Issue No: 256
September 30, 2006

This week's issue:
Human Rights Analysis
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Fact File

Child rights and CRC

Khan Ferdousour Rahman

Violations of the rights of children represent a common occurrence in many parts of the world. These violations take the form of torture; cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; disappearances; excessive work and labour; prostitution; sexual abuse and slavery. Children also form a significant proportion of the global refugee or stateless population. Millions of children around the world are at serious risk of starvation and malnutrition. As a response to these violations efforts have been made to establish a regime of international protection of the rights of the children.

The origin of the rights of the children came under the League of Nations as Declaration of Geneva in 1924. The same was revised and amplified in 1948. It formed the basis of ten points Declaration on the Rights of the Child adopted unanimously by the General Assembly on November 20, 1959. The International Bill of Rights of the Children includes the Convention of the Rights of the Children (CRC) 1989 of which Bangladesh is one of the signatory among the first twenty countries, and two draft optional protocols which are not yet ratified by minimum required countries -- Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in the Armed Conflicts, 2000, and Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, 2000.

The basic rights of the children are protected by CRC 1989. It was adopted by UN General Assembly on November 20, 1989 through Resolution No. 44/25. There are total 54 Articles in this Convention. CRC encompasses few special characteristics i.e. it recognises that every human being below the age of eighteen years can be called a child and full legal capacity is attained at maturity; the CRC is to be understood, interpreted and implemented in the context of all existing international norms in the field of human rights including customary, contractual, universal or regional norms; all the rights of the child are of equal importance and interrelated; it covers various sets of rights (civil and political, economic, social and cultural, and specific rights) of children in difficult circumstances; the cardinal concept of CRC is the recognition of the child as an active subject of rights rather than as the property of the family or the object of the rights of the adult; and CRC makes no mention of the child's duties.

The fundamental general principles or main focus of CRC is placed on various aspects, i.e. any right of child must be implemented on the basis of four general principles (i.e. non-discrimination; best interest of child; right to life, survival and development, and respect for views of the child); all rights of CRC should be respected and ensured by the States for each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination (Article 2); Article 3 deals with principle of the best interests of the child; right to life, survival and development is reflected in Article 6; and the principle of respect for the views of the child is reflected in Article 12. According to Article 3, best interest of child shall be a primary consideration in all actions concerning children. In connection with the various provisions of the Convention, best interests of child are further referred or specified by reference to family ties, continuity in upbringing and the child's ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic background (e.g. Article 9, 17, 18, 20, 21 and 40).

Articles 43 to 54 deal with implementation measures by setting up of a Committee with ten experts from the field of law, medicine, economy, sociology, education and international law to examine the certificates given by State parties by two years of ratification and thereafter by every five years. State parties are to make reports widely available to the general public. The committee may propose for any special study on specific right of the Convention and make evaluation. To foster effective implementation of the Convention and to encourage international cooperation the ILO, WHO, UNICEF, UNESCO should attend the meeting of the Committee. NGOs having consultative status with the ECOSOC may submit pertinent information to the Committee and may be asked to advice on optimal implementation of the Convention.

The principal task of the Committee is to consider national reports of State parties on measures adopted to give effect to rights of the children and on progress made in the enjoyment of such rights. The reports are presented to the Committee by competent national delegation, after a constructive dialogue between the delegation and members of Committee. The Committee convenes annually informal regional meetings with the support of UNICEF.

The main reason of non-implementation of the provisions of CRC is the lack of fund, which the developing countries cannot afford and thus require the support of developed countries.

The writer is a freelancer.


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