The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child1 by its State parties. It also monitors implementation of two optional protocols to the Convention: involvement of children in armed conflict2 and sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.3
All States parties are obliged to submit regular reports4 to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. States must report initially two years after acceding to the Convention and then every five years. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations".
1 july 20045
The Committee is concerned:
* by the persistence of discriminatory legal rules regarding children born
out of wedlock. The Committee is further concerned at the de facto discrimination in the State party. In particular, the Committee is concerned at the disparities in the enjoyment of rights experienced by children belonging to the most vulnerable groups, such as girls, restavek, children from poor families, street children, children with disabilities and children living in rural areas.
* that the principle of the best interests of the child is not fully
recognized and implemented in the relevant legislation and in decisions relevant to children. The Committee is especially concerned that the existing legislation, as referred to in the State party’s report (para. 51), allows parents to send their children to prison for a period of up to six months, without the involvement of a court or similar body, which constitutes a violation of article 37, paragraph (d), of the Convention. However, the Committee welcomes the information that this rule is rarely applied in practice.
*is concerned that children’s opinions are not given sufficient consideration and that respect for the views of the child remains limited within the family, at schools, in the courts and before administrative authorities and in the society at large.
*remains concerned at the persistent practice of corporal
punishment by parents or teachers and the ill-treatment of child domestics (restaveks). The Committee is further deeply concerned about instances of ill-treatment of street children by law enforcement officers.
* about the high number of children who are separated from their parents. The Committee is further concerned at the fact that the views of
the child are not taken into consideration when such a decision is taken and that the Social Welfare and Research Institute does not carry out a periodic review of placement of all children separated from their parents.
*The Committee is concerned at the increase in intercountry adoptions without an adequate monitoring mechanism.
*at the high incidence of violence against and abuse of children within the family environment, including sexual abuse and neglect of children, and that insufficient efforts have been made to protect children. The Committee is particularly concerned at the very high rate of sexual abuse of girls (more than one third of women were sexually abused before the age of 15 years). In addition, the Committee is concerned at the lack of statistical data and a comprehensive plan of action, and the insufficient infrastructures.
*at the high infant, under-five and maternal mortality rates and low life expectancy in the State party. The Committee also remains
concerned that access to health services in the rural areas is limited, and that the survival and development of children in the State party continue to be threatened by early childhood and infectious diseases, diarrhoea and malnutrition. The Committee is further concerned at the poor state of sanitation and at the insufficient access to safe drinking water, especially in rural areas.
*that insufficient attention has been given to adolescent health issues, including developmental, mental and reproductive health concerns, and substance abuse. The Committee is also concerned at the particularly vulnerable situation of girls, given, for instance, the very high percentage of early pregnancies. In that respect, the Committee is particularly concerned at the high incidence of illegal abortions with the inevitable attendant risks to health and life.
* at the high incidence and increasing prevalence of HIV/AIDS amongst adults and children, more particularly at the high incidence of children infected at birth and at the number of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. The Committee is further concerned at the lack of knowledge among adolescents on how to prevent HIV/AIDS in spite of real efforts of the State party to raise awareness on this issue.
*remains concerned at the absence of a comprehensive strategy for children with disabilities, at the lack of data and at the insufficient measures taken by the State party to ensure effective access of these children to adequate health services, education and social services, and to facilitate their full inclusion in society. The Committee is also concerned about the small number of well-trained professionals working with and for children with disabilities.
*at the still low enrolment ratios, and the disparities in enrolment between girls and boys and between rural and urban areas. The Committee is further concerned at the very limited number of public schools and at the low quality of education reflected in the high repetition and drop-out rates, which are attributable mainly to the lack of appropriate training for teachers (paragraph 192 of the State party’s report). The Committee is also concerned that pregnant girls are excluded from schools. Finally, the Committee is concerned that education is principally run by the private sector (ibid. para. 184), while supervision by the State through the National Partnership Commission is very limited.
*he Committee is deeply concerned at the high number of under-age children involved in labour who are working long hours, which has a negative effect on their development and school attendance.
*the increasing number of street children and at the lack of a systematic and comprehensive strategy to address this situation and to provide these children with adequate protection and assistance. In addition, the Committee is concerned that these children are used for the perpetration of offences and that some of them have disappeared.
*The Committee is deeply concerned at the high incidence of trafficking of children from Haiti to the Dominican Republic. The Committee is concerned that these children once they are separated from their family are forced to beg or to work in the Dominican Republic.
*The Committee notes that the administration of juvenile justice is governed by the Act of 7 September 1961 and the Decree of 20 November 1961, but the Committee remains concerned that a juvenile justice system does exist only in Cap Haitien and Port-au-Prince. The Committee is also concerned that children may stay a long time in pre-trial detention, at the
failure to separate children from adults in places of detention (with the exception of the Fort National, in Port-au-Prince), about allegations of ill-treatment by law enforcement officers, and about the conditions of detention of minors. The Committee is further concerned at the very
limited possibilities for the rehabilitation and reintegration of juveniles following judicial proceedings and at the sporadic training of judges, prosecutors and prison staff.