Outlaw corporal punishment
-UN committee tells Guyana
Stabroek News
February 6, 2004

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The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child says Guyana should expressly prohibit corporal punishment by law in the family, schools and other institutions.

These were some of the recommendations for Guyana coming out of the committee's 35th session in Geneva where the reports by various countries on efforts to comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child were considered.

According to a UN communiqué, in its conclusions the committee welcomed the establishment of the Ministry of Amerindians Affairs led by a woman of Amerindian descent.

It recommended that the state party raise the age of the minimum sexual consent and the minimum age of criminal responsibility to an internationally acceptable one.

Guyana must also ensure that the National Policy on the Rights of People with Disabilities addressed children's rights, taking into account the provision for non-discrimination, accessibility to all services including public buildings and transportation. Reduction of mortality rates by improving prenatal care and preventing communicable diseases was also urged. Guyana should continue to strengthen measures aimed at increasing enrolment rates in primary and secondary education and to further strengthen attempts to bring dropouts back to school and other training programmes.

Pregnant teenagers should be given an opportunity to complete their education while street children need more assistance and Guyana must take all necessary measures to protect Amerindian children against discrimination and to guarantee their enjoyment of all rights recognised in the Convention.

Meanwhile the committee welcomed the constitutional reform efforts and the passage of Bill No. 6 of 2001 that provided for the establishment of constitutional commissions, including the Commission of the Rights of the Child; and the ratification of ILO Convention No. 138 concerning the Minimum Age for admission to Employment in 1998 and ILO Convention No. 182 concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in 2001.

But the committee noted that "the increasing debt burden, widespread poverty, racial tension and political instability have impeded progress to the full realisation of the children's rights enshrined in the Convention."

This was the third meeting of the committee with the expanded membership of 18 instead of 10 independent experts. Reports were considered from Indonesia, Guyana, Armenia, Germany, the Netherlands (including Aruba), India, Papua New Guinea, Slovenia and Japan.