Table 4: Children’s Health and the Right to Information 

Examples of Human Rights Violations

  • Limited access to health information, particularly reproductive health for adolescents.
  • Information is disseminated in a language that most children do not understand.
  • Official censorship on media that restricts the right of children to appropriate information.
Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
CRC 13: The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice. CRC General Comment 12(100): Children, including young children, should be included in decision-making processes, in a manner consistent with their evolving capacities. They should be provided with information about proposed treatments and their effects and outcomes, including in formats appropriate and accessible to children with disabilities. CRC/C/GC/12 (July 20, 2009).

CRC General Comment 12(81): Freedom of expression relates to the right to hold and express opinions, and to seek and receive information through any media. It asserts the right of the child not to be restricted by the State party in the opinions she or he holds or expresses. As such, the obligation it imposes on States parties is to refrain from interference in the expression of those views, or in access to information, while protecting the right of access to means of communication and public dialogue. CRC/C/GC/12 (July 20, 2009).

CRC Committee: Recommending increased information and education with respect to adolescent sexual and reproductive health in the United Kingdom CRC/C/GBR/CO/4 (CRC, 2008), para. 61; Bhutan CRC/C/SR.1369 (CRC, 2008), para. 55; Bulgaria CRC/C/BGR/CO/2 (CRC, 2008), para. 47; Madagascar CRC/C/MDG/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2012), para. 52; and Costa Rica CRC/C/CRI/CO/4 (CRC, 2011), para. 63.

CRC Committee: Expressing concern that in Algeria sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents are scarce and that sexual and reproductive health education remains underdeveloped. The Committee is also concerned that knowledge of HIV transmission and prevention is low among adolescents. CRC/C/DZA/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2012), para. 59.

CRC Committee: Noting with concern that in Syria there is limited availability of youth-friendly reproductive health services and that knowledge among adolescents about reproductive health, sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, and the health consequences of tobacco, alcohol and drugs consumption is inadequate. CRC/C/SYR/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2012), para. 65.

CRC Committee: Recommending that Bulgaria take all necessary measures to address the incidence of drug, alcohol, tobacco, and other substance use among children by, inter alia, providing children with accurate and objective information about toxic substance use, including tobacco use. CRC/C/BGR/CO/2 (CRC, 2008), para. 50.

CRC Committee: Recommending that Panama undertake steps to reduce the greater risk of HIV/AIDS among indigenous children, including by providing culturally sensitive sex education and information on reproductive health, reduce the greater risk of HIV/AIDS among teenagers by providing reproductive health services especially aimed at them and by expanding their access to information on prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, and that it direct programs at children with HIV/AIDS. CRC/C/PAN/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2011), para. 59.

CRC Committee: Expressing concern that indigenous children and children of Afro descendants in Venezuela do not receive sufficient information relevant to their needs. CRC/C/VEN/CO/2 (CRC, 2007), para. 41.

CRC Committee: Expressing concern that children in Burkina Faso still have a limited access to appropriate information which is mainly disseminated only in French, a language that most children do not understand. CRC/C/BFA/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2010), para. 36.

Human Rights Standards Case Law
ESC 11: With a view to ensuring the effective exercise of the right to protection of health, the Parties undertake, either directly or in cooperation with public or private organisations, to take appropriate measures designed inter alia: (2) to provide advisory and educational facilities for the promotion of health and the encouragement of individual responsibility in matters of health. ECSR: Holding that the situation in Croatia is not in conformity with Article 11§2 of the Charter, because Croatian schools do not provide comprehensive or adequate sexual and reproductive health education for children and young people. The Committee stated that governments that have signed the European Social Charter are obliged to provide scientifically-based and non-discriminatory sex education to young people that does not involve censoring, withholding or intentionally misrepresenting information such as on contraception. International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights (INTERIGHTS) v. Croatia Complaint No. 45/2007, 30 March 2009.