UN focus on child rights in Sao Tome and Principe

The Committee, having considered the initial report of Sao Tome and Principe, welcomed the adoption of laws and the establishment of various mechanisms aimed at protecting and promoting the rights of children such as: Act No. 2/77 of 28 December 1997on the family; Act. No. 6/92 of 11 June 1992on working conditions; the criminal and civil codes, in particular articles 125 and 488 of the Civil Code on criminal liability; the revision in 2003 of Decree No. 417/71 of 29 September 1971on legal assistance to minors; Act. No. 2/2003 on the basis of the education system; and the launching of the Programme for Single Mothers as Heads of Households.

The Committee welcomed the inclusion of provisions inspired by the Convention in the Constitution and in a number of laws relating to child rights. It encouraged further law reform, the full implementation of existing laws, and consideration of ratification of other human rights instruments, such as the 1966 Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights. It further recommended that the State party consider ratifying as a matter of priority the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child of 1990.

The Committee recommended, among other things, that the State party ensure the implementation of all relevant laws guaranteeing that the best interests of the child would be a primary consideration in all actions concerning children; strengthen its efforts to promote within the family, schools, and other institutions respect for the views of children, especially girls, and facilitate their participation in all matters affecting them; undertake national awareness-raising campaigns to change traditional authoritarian attitudes; and continue to strengthen children’s participation in councils, forums, children’s parliaments and the like.

The Committee recommended that the State party continue implementing its comprehensive strategy in order to achieve 100 per cent birth registration as soon as possible, including by cooperating with United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and other international agencies. The Committee further recommended that the strategy be adapted so as to establish public service mechanisms that would ensure child birth registration in the future.

Further, the Committee recommended that the State party amend current legislation to prohibit corporal punishment in all places, including in the family, in schools and other childcare settings; amend the current legislation so as to provide a definition of what constituted ill-treatment and to prohibit such practices in all settings; and 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.

The Committee welcomed the fact that the right to health care was enshrined in the Constitution; the positive result of the expanded programme of immunization; and took note of the new strategy to combat malaria. It recommended that the State party develop comprehensive policies and plans on adolescent health; promote collaboration between State agencies and non-governmental organizations in order to establish a system of formal and informal education on HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections, on sex education and on family planning; and take into account the General Comment No. 3 (2003) of the Committee on HIV/AIDS and the Rights of the Child and the International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights in order to promote and protect the rights of children infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Finally, the Committee recommended that the State party take all necessary measures to prevent and reduce all forms of early marriages, including by undertaking awareness raising campaigns concerning the various harms and negative consequences resulting from early marriages.

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