CRC/C/ERI/CO/4United Nations / CRC/C/ERI/CO/4
/ Convention on the
Rights of the Child / Distr.: General
2 July 2015
Committee on the Rights of the Child
Concluding observations on the fourth periodic report of Eritrea[*]
1.The Committee considered the fourth periodic report of Eritrea (CRC/C/ERI/4) at its 1987th and 1989th meetings (see CRC/C/SR.1987 and 1989), held on 19 and 20 May 2015, and adopted the following concluding observations at its 2024th meeting (see CRC/C/SR.2024), held on 5 June 2015.
2.The Committee welcomes the submission of the fourth periodic report of the State party and the written replies to the list of issues (CRC/C/ERI/Q/4/Add.1), which allowed for a better understanding of the situation of children’s rights in the State party. The Committee expresses appreciation for the constructive dialogue held with the multisectoral delegation of the State party.
II.Follow-up measures undertaken and progress achieved by the State party
3.The Committee welcomes the ratification of or accession to the following instruments:
(a)Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, in 2014;
(b)United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, in 2014;
(c)Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, in 2014.
4.The Committee notes the adoption, in 2015, of the Civil Code, the Penal Code, the Civil Procedure Code and the Penal Procedure Code.
5.The Committee welcomes the establishment or adoption of the following institutional and policy measures:
(a)National Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities;
(b)National Gender Action Plan for the period 2015–2019, by the National Union of Eritrean Women;
(c)Comprehensive National Disability Policy, in December 2014;
(d)National Policy on Children, in 2014;
(e)National Policy on Infant and Young Child Nutrition, in July 2013;
(f)Health Sector Strategic Development Plan for 2012–2016.
6.The Committee notes as positive the State party’s acceptance of a technical assessment mission by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which took place in February 2015.
III.Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Convention
7.The Committee considers that the prolonged compulsory national service, the ineffective implementation of the 1997 Constitution and the suspension of the National Assembly have resulted in the deterioration of the rule of law and a serious human rights and humanitarian situation, including the exodus of refugees, which poses a challenge to the implementation of the Convention. The Committee reminds the State party of the continuous nature of international human rights obligations and of the fact that legitimate national security concerns must be reconciled with the rights under the Convention, which apply to all children at all times.
IV.Main areas of concern and recommendations
A.General measures of implementation (arts. 4, 42 and 44 (6))
Committee’s previous recommendations
8.The Committee recommends that the State party take all measures necessary to address the recommendations made in its previous concluding observations (CRC/C/ERI/CO/3) that have not been implemented or not sufficiently implemented, including those on independent monitoring, respect for the views of the child, birth registration, family environment, children in street situations and administration of juvenile justice.
9.The Committee notes that the State party conducted a comprehensive review of national legislation with regard to its conformity with the Convention. However, the Committee regrets the lack of information on the recently adopted laws (see para. 4 above), and is concerned that the Constitution adopted in 1997 has never been formally implemented. Considering the State party’s dualist system, the Committee is concerned that, without effective implementation of the Constitution and legislative reforms, the provisions of the Convention are not legally binding in the domestic jurisdiction.
10.The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a)Officially promulgate and apply the 1997 Constitution and expedite the constitutional review process, with a clear timeline and with transparent procedures, while ensuring that the Constitution is in full conformity with the provisions of the Convention;
(b)Expedite its efforts to bring domestic law into full compliance with the Convention and the optional protocols thereto, within a clear time frame;
(c)Consider adopting a comprehensive children’s code in order to effectively incorporate the provisions of the Convention, as recommended in the previous concluding observations;
(d)Ensure that all laws in force in the State party are publicly available.
Comprehensive policy and strategy
11.The Committee welcomes the adoption of the National Policy on Children. However, the Committee notes that a strategy or a new national plan of action to implement the policy has yet to be developed.
12.The Committee recommends that the State party develop a strategy or a new national plan of action to implement the National Policy on Children, and allocate sufficient human, technical and financial resources to it.
13.The Committee welcomes the clarification of the mandates of the coordinating bodies for the implementation of the Convention at the national and regional levels, such as the national coordinating committee on the Convention, the interministerial committee and the regional committee for the coordination of the implementation of the Convention, following the Committee’s previous recommendation. However, the Committee regrets the lack of information on the resources available to those bodies for their effective functioning and coordination.
14.The Committee reiterates its recommendation that the State party allocate sufficient human, technical and financial resources to the entities designated to coordinate the implementation of the Convention to enable them to discharge their mandates. In this regard, the Committee refers the State party to its general comment No. 5 (2003) on general measures of implementation of the Convention.
Allocation of resources
15.The Committee is concerned that information regarding resource allocation for children is imprecise and not related to the total State budget or gross domestic product, and that a child rights approach is not applied in the preparation of the State budget.
16.The Committee urges the State party to take into account the recommendations issued by the Committee following its day of general discussion on the theme “Resources for the rights of the child: responsibility of States”, held on 21 September 2007. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a)Conduct a comprehensive assessment of the budget needs of children and allocate adequate budgetary resources, in accordance with article 4 of the Convention, for the implementation of children’s rights and, in particular, increase the budget allocated to social sectors and address disparities on the basis of indicators related to children’s rights;
(b)Utilize a child-rights approach in the preparation of the State budget by implementing a tracking system for the allocation and use of resources for children throughout the budget. The State party should also use this tracking system to carry out impact assessments on how investments in any sector may serve the best interests of the child, ensuring that the different impact of such investment on girls and boys is measured;
(c)Ensure transparent and participatory budgeting through public dialogue, especially with children and for proper accountability of local authorities;
(d)Define budgetary lines for children in disadvantaged or vulnerable situations that may require affirmative social measures, and make sure that those budgetary lines are protected even in situations of economic crisis, natural disaster or other emergencies.
17.The Committee notes with concern that corruption continues to be pervasive and diverts resources that could otherwise improve the implementation of the rights of the child, thereby weakening the efficiency and effectiveness of budgetary allocations for children.
18.The Committee recommends that the State party immediately take measures to combat corruption and strengthen institutional capacities to detect, investigate and prosecute corruption effectively.
19.The Committee welcomes the progress made in data collection in the area of health, including through the 2010 Eritrea Population and Health Survey. However, the Committee is concerned that the data collected through surveys are not released in a timely manner and that the system of data collection does not cover all areas of the Convention. The Committee notes that a national database based on the DevInfo system developed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is not yet functional.
20.In the light of its general comment No. 5 (2003), the Committee urges the State party to further improve its data collection system by:
(a)Collecting data that cover all areas of the Convention and disaggregating them by age, sex, disability, geographic location, ethnic, linguistic and religious origin, and socioeconomic background;
(b)Ensuring that data collection captures the situation of children in situations of vulnerability, including children with disabilities, orphans and children in street situations;
(c)Taking into account the conceptual and methodological framework set out in the report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights entitled “Human rights indicators: a guide to measurement and implementation” when defining, collecting and disseminating statistical information;
(d)Sharing data and indicators in a timely manner within the Government and with the general public, and using them for the formulation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, programmes and projects relevant to the implementation of the Convention;
(e)Increasing human, technical and financial resources for the national statistical office and upholding the fundamental principles of official statistics (see General Assembly resolution 68/261);
(f)Strengthening its technical cooperation with, among others, UNICEF and regional mechanisms.
21.The Committee reiterates its recommendation that the State party establish an independent national human rights institution in full compliance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (the Paris Principles) (see CRC/C/ERI/CO/3, para. 15). The institution should be accessible to children, be provided with adequate human and financial resources to receive, monitor and investigate complaints from or on behalf of children on violations of their rights and be able to recommend remedies. In this regard, the Committee draws the attention of the State party to its general comment No. 2 (2002) on the role of independent national human rights institutions in the promotion and protection of the rights of the child.
Cooperation with civil society
22.The Committee remains seriously concerned about the limitations placed on human rights defenders and civil society organizations, including those working on children’s rights, and in particular regrets the severe administrative and practical restrictions placed on their independent operations.
23.The Committee urges the State party to:
(a)Immediately take action to allow human rights defenders and civil society organizations, including those working on children’s rights, both national and international, regardless of their affiliation status, to exercise their right to freedom of expression, opinion and association without threat or harassment;
(b)Ensure that reported instances of intimidation and harassment of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), human rights defenders and civil society activists are promptly and independently investigated and that those responsible for such abuses are held accountable;
(c)Systematically involve all NGOs working in the field of children’s rights in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of laws, policies and programmes related to children, including the follow-up to the concluding observations of the Committee.
B.General principles (arts. 2, 3, 6 and 12)
24.The Committee notes as positive the efforts made by the State party to eliminate discrimination, in particular those aimed at reducing regional disparities in access to social services. The Committee is concerned, however, that:
(a)Certain forms of discrimination remain, including de facto discrimination against girls, children from ethnic minorities and nomadic communities;
(b)Children and their families who follow religions that are not officially recognized are denied administrative services or educational opportunities;
(c)The criminalization of consensual same-sex conduct under the transitional penal code encourages the stigmatization of and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual persons, including children, as well as the stigmatization of and discrimination against children from families formed by such persons.
25.The Committee recommends that the State party continue its efforts to eliminate all forms of discrimination against all children, both in law and in practice. The Committee also recommends that the State party:
(a)Continue and strengthen its efforts to eliminate stereotypes and practices that discriminate against girls, including harmful practices, sexual and domestic violence and unequal inheritance rights for girls, and adopt a comprehensive strategy in this regard;
(b)Intensify its efforts to eliminate discrimination against children from ethnic minorities;
(c)Ensure that children who follow religions that are not officially recognized and children who belong to ethnic minorities do not face any discrimination in relation to access to administrative and social services;
(d)Repeal the legal provisions criminalizing homosexuality and, by raising public awareness of equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, ensure that children who belong to groups of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual persons or children from families formed by such persons are not subject to any form of discrimination.
Best interests of the child
26.The Committee notes the efforts of the State party to incorporate the best interests of the child into certain laws and judicial proceedings. However, the Committee is concerned that the right of the child to have his or her best interests taken into account as a primary consideration may be misinterpreted and has not been fully and systematically incorporated by the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the State.
27.In the light of its general comment No. 14 (2013) on the right of the child to have his or her best interests taken as a primary consideration, the Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its efforts to ensure that this right is appropriately integrated and consistently applied in all legislative, administrative and judicial proceedings and decisions, as well as in all laws, policies, programmes and projects that are relevant to and have an impact on children. In this regard, the State party is encouraged to develop procedures and criteria to provide guidance to all relevant persons in authority on determining the best interests of the child in every area and on giving due weight to those interests as a primary consideration.
Respect for the views of the child
28.The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation that the State party strengthen its efforts to ensure that children’s views are given due consideration in the community, the family and schools, and guarantee the right of the child to be heard in all judicial and administrative proceedings affecting him or her (see CRC/C/ERI/CO/3, para. 31). In this context, the Committee encourages the State party to take into account its general comment No. 12 on the right of the child to be heard.
Right to life, survival and development
29.The Committee is seriously concerned that:
(a)Measures adopted for border control reportedly include excessive use of force, including a “shoot to kill” policy against those trying to flee the country, including children;
(b)The conditions in the State party are so harsh that a large number of children feel compelled to leave the country, even if it results in them being separated from their families and risking their lives and full development.
30.The Committee urges the State party to cease, with immediate effect, the excessive use of force against children, including at borders, and to take all possible measures to encourage children to continue residing in the country.
C.Civil rights and freedoms (arts. 7, 8 and 13–17)
31.The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation that the State party strengthen and further develop measures to ensure that all children born within the national territory, including those belonging to minorities and living in remote areas, are registered. The Committee urges the State party to create institutional birth registration structures at all levels that are accessible and free, such as mobile units in rural and remote areas and units targeting internally displaced persons and those living in refugee camps, in order to encourage birth registration. The Committee recommends that the State party seek technical assistance from UNICEF and other United Nations specialized agencies in the implementation of these recommendations (see CRC/C/ERI/CO/3, para. 33).
Freedom of expression
32.The Committee is concerned about the particularly severe restrictions placed on the press in the State party, which has a serious impact on children’s right to expression, participation and information.
33.The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation that the State party remove excessive restrictions on the media in order to guarantee that children can access information and exercise their right to freedom of expression in accordance with the provisions of the Convention (see CRC/C/ERI/CO/3, para. 35).
Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
34.The Committee is concerned at the allegation that followers of unrecognized religious denominations, including children, face restrictions in the exercise of their religious faith and practices and are often harassed, persecuted or denied official identity cards.
35.The Committee urges the State party to:
(a)Respect the right of children belonging to all religious denominations, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, to exercise their right to freedom of religion and ensure that they are not harassed or prosecuted;
(b)Immediately reinstate the full citizenship of children and their families who follow unrecognized religious denominations and ensure their equal access to public services, including for the issuance of official identity cards.