Table 5: Children’s Health and the Freedom from Abuse, Torture and Ill-Treatment

Examples of Human Rights Violations

  • Failure to criminalize corporal punishment against children in schools and homes.
  • Insufficient measures taken to protect children from domestic violence, abuse and neglect, including the absence of legislation and/or a national framework for protection.
  • Torture and ill-treatment of children in detention by police and security forces.
  • Sexual violence and abuse of children, particularly girls.
Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
CRC 19(1): States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child. CRC Committee: Recommending that states take practical steps, including enacting legislation, to prohibit corporal punishment. It should likewise encourage non-violent forms of discipline as alternatives to corporal punishment in the education system, and should conduct public information campaigns to explain its harmful effects. Bhutan CRC/C/SR.1369 (CRC, 2008), para. 38, Djibouti CRC/C/DJI/CO/2 (CRC, 2008) para. 36, Georgia CRC/C/GEO/CO/3 (CRC, 2008) para. 32, Serbia CRC/C/SRB/CO/1 (CRC, 2008) para. 47, Panama CRC/C/PAN/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2011) para. 46, Syria CRC/C/SYR/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2012), para. 53, Italy CRC/C/ITA/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2012), para. 34, Egypt CRC/C/EGY/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2011), para. 57, Singapore CRC/C/SGP/CO/2-3 (CRC, 2010), para. 39.

CRC Committee: Noting with great concern that children in Burkina Faso are commonly beaten, whipped, insulted and humiliated by their teachers. CRC/C/BFA/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2010), para. 40.

CRC Committee: Expressing concern that the rate of bullying at schools in the Republic of Korea has increased in occurrence and severity. CRC/C/KOR/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2012), para. 44.

CRC Committee: Expressing concern about high levels of domestic violence against children, and especially girls in Algeria CRC/C/DZA/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2012), para. 45; Argentina CRC/C/ARG/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2010), para. 53; Burkina Faso CRC/C/BFA/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2010), para. 50; Burundi CRC/C/BDI/CO/2 (CRC, 2010), para. 41; and Costa Rica CRC/C/CRI/CO/4 (CRC, 2011), para. 53.

CRC Committee: Expressing concern about the lack of child protection mechanisms against abuse in Burkina Faso CRC/C/BFA/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2010), para. 50; Italy CRC/C/ITA/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2012), para. 43; and Madagascar CRC/C/MDG/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2012), para. 45.

CRC Committee: Expressing concern that there is still no specific provision in domestic legislation in Algeria or Burkina Faso that criminalizes domestic violence. CRC/C/DZA/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2012), para. 45, CRC/C/BFA/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2010), para. 50.

CRC Committee: Regretting that there is no mandatory obligation for professionals working with children in Singapore to report abuse of children. CRC/C/SGP/CO/2-3 (CRC, 2010) para. 50.

CRC 37 (a): No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age. CRC Committee: Expressing deep concern that many children in Syria are reported to have died as a result of torture and mutilation they were subjected to while being detained in connection with the protests. It is also deeply concerned that children are still reported to be detained and at risk of torture. CRC/C/SYR/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2012), para. 50.

CRC Committee: Noting with deep regret the acknowledgment by Egypt in its report that violations of the right of the child to protection from torture and ill-treatment still occur. CRC/C/EGY/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2011), para. 122.

CRC Committee: Expressing serious concern at the lack of concrete measures taken by Burkina Faso on the conditions of detention of children in police stations and the methods used by law enforcement officials. CRC/C/BFA/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2010), para. 38.

CRC Committee: Expressing concern at allegations of torture and ill-treatment by police against children in Argentina CRC/C/ARG/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2010), para. 41; and against Roma children in the Ukraine CRC/C/15/ADD.191 (CRC, 2002), para. 36.

Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
ICESCR (10): The widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to the family, which is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, particularly for its establishment and while it is responsible for the care and education of dependent children. CESCR: Calling on Brazil to implement measures against child sexual abuse, especially the abuse of girls; to properly investigate instances of abuse and neglect of children within a childsensitive inquiry; to provide support services to children in legal proceedings; and for the physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of the victims of rape and other sexual abuse or violence. E/C.12/BRA/CO/2 (CESCR, 2009).

CESCR: Noting with concern that corporal punishment is lawful in Ethiopia E/C.12/ETH/CO/1-3 (CESCR, 2012), and not explicitly prohibited by law in Belgium E/C.12/BEL/CO/3 (CESCR, 2008), Turkey E/C.12/TUR/CO/1 (CESCR, 2011), and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland E/C.12/GBR/CO/5 (CESCR, 2009).

CESCR: Expressing concern at the high incidence of domestic violence against women and children in India E/C.12/IND/CO/5 (CESCR, 2008), Kazakhstan E/C.12/KAZ/CO/1 (CESCR, 2010), and Latvia E/C.12/LVA/CO/1 (CESCR, 2008).

CESCR: Expressing concern that domestic violence is not specifically defined as an offence in the Criminal Code of Peru E/C.12/PER/CO/2-4 (CESCR, 2012),or Poland E/C.12/POL/CO/5 (CESCR, 2009).

ICCPR (7): The right to freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. HRC: Urging New Zealand to further strengthen its efforts to combat child abuse by improving mechanisms for its early detection, encouraging reporting of suspected and actual abuse, and by ensuring that the relevant authorities take legal action against those involved in child abuse. CCPR/C/NZL/CO/5 HRC, 2009, para. 18.
CEDAW 2: States Parties condemn discrimination against women in all its forms, agree to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women CEDAW General Recommendation 19: Gender-based violence is a form of discrimination that seriously inhibits women’s ability to enjoy rights and freedoms on a basis of equality with men. (11th Session, 1992).

CEDAW Committee: Calling on Algeria to strengthen the mechanisms and procedures for ensuring that refugee women and girls are not subjected to sexual and gender-based violence and abuse, and that victims/survivors have access to shelter, to medical and psychological services, and to law enforcement mechanisms and justice. CEDAW/C/DZA/CO/3-4 (CEDAW, 2012).

CEDAW Committee: Expressing concern for the situation of women and girls living in urban slums and informal settlements in Kenya and who are under threat of sexual violence and lack access to adequate to sanitation facilities, which exacerbate their risks of being victims of sexual violence and impact negatively on their health. CEDAW/C/KEN/CO/7 (CEDAW, 2011).

CEDAW Committee: Calling on Sri Lanka to ensure that crisis centers and shelters where victims of domestic violence can find safe lodging and counseling are available and accessible throughout the country. E/C.12/LKA/CO/2-4 (CESCR, 2010).

Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
CAT 2: Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.

CAT 16(1): Each State Party shall undertake to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article 1, when such acts are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.

CAT Committee: Calling on states to incorporate into domestic legislation a provision prohibiting the use of corporal punishment against children within the family and domestic violence against women. Algeria CAT/C/DZA/CO/3 (CAT, 2008), Benin CAT/C/BEN/CO/2 (CAT, 2008), Chad CAT/C/TCD/CO/1 (CAT, 2009), Djibouti CAT/C/DJI/CO/1 (CAT, 2011), Ethiopia CAT/C/ETH/CO/1 (CAT, 2011), Zambia CAT/C/ZMB/CO/2 (CAT, 2008), Paraguay CAT/C/PRY/CO/4-6 (CAT, 2011), Slovenia CAT/C/SVN/CO/3 (CAT, 2011), and Ireland CAT/C/IRL/CO/1 (CAT, 2011).

CAT Committee: Expressing concern that corporal punishment is lawful and frequently used in juvenile prisons in Indonesia CAT/C/IDN/CO/2 (CAT, 2008) and Sri Lanka CAT/C/LKA/CO/3-4 (CAT, 2011).

CAT Committee: Expressing concern about juvenile detention centres in Kazakhstan, where there are reports of incidents of self-mutilation by detainees. A/56/44(SUPP) (CAT, 2001).

CAT Committee: Urging Cambodia to take effective measures to prevent and combat sexual violence and abuse against women and children, including rape; establish and promote an effective mechanism for receiving complaints of sexual violence and investigate such complaints, providing victims with psychological and medical protection as well as access to redress, including compensation and rehabilitation, as appropriate. CAT/C/KHM/CO/2 (CAT, 2011).

CAT Committee: Expressing deep concern that hospitalized patients in Burundi, including children, who are unable to pay their medical expenses are detained in hospitals for several months until they are able to pay, and the conditions under which such patients are held, particularly fact that they are denied food and medical treatment.CAT/C/BDI/CO/1 (CAT, 2007).

Other Interpretations 

Advisory Opinion of the IACtHR: States parties to the American Convention on Human Rights “are under the obligation … to adopt all positive measures required to ensure protection of children against mistreatment, whether in their relations with public authorities, or in relations among individuals or with non-governmental entities.” OC-17/2002 (28 August 2002), paras. 87 and 91.

CRC General Comment 8 The right of the child to protection from corporal punishment and other cruel or degrading forms of punishment. CRC/C/GC/8 (2006).

SR Torture: Recommending that Kazakhstan ensure that corporal punishment is explicitly criminalized in all parts of the country. A/HRC/7/3/Add.7 (SR Torture, 2008).

SR Torture: Recommending that the Government of Nigeria take decisive steps to abolish all forms of corporal punishment, including shariabased punishments. A/HRC/7/3/Add.4 (2007).

SR Torture: Noting with concern that in prisons in Equatorial Guinea, as well as in police and gendarmerie custody, women and children are not separated from male adults and are therefore extremely vulnerable to sexual violence and other forms of abuse by guards as well as by co-prisoners. A/HRC/13/39/Add.4 (2010).

SR Violence Against Women: Recommending legal provisions to prevent and combat violence in the family in Algeria A/HRC/7/6/Add.2 (2008) and the Republic of Moldova A/HRC/11/6/Add.4 (2009).

SR Torture: Expressing serious concern about the greater vulnerability of minors to ill-treatment in police stations and consistent allegations of beatings after arrest, as well as the seemingly excessive use of force and collective punishment after riots and rebellions in detention facilities for minors in Uruguay. A/HRC/13/39/ADD.2 (SR Torture, 2009).

United Nations Study on Violence Against Children, A/61/299 (2006).