COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 44 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding Observations of the Committee on the
Rights of the Child: SPAIN
1. The Committee considered the second periodic report of Spain (CRC/C/70/Add.9), submitted on 12 October 1998, at its 798th and 799th meetings (see CRC/C/SR.798-799), held on 4 June 2002, and adopted at the 804th meeting, held on 7 June 2002, the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee welcomes the submission of the State party's second periodic report, which follows the guidelines for reporting, but regrets the late submission of the written replies to its list of issues (CRC/C/Q/SPA/2). Furthermore, it welcomes the large high-ranking delegation representing different departments and sectors sent by the State party and the frank dialogue and the positive reactions to the suggestions and recommendations made during the discussion.
B. Positive aspects
3. The Committee welcomes the great progress and achievements made by the State party since the examination of the Initial report to the Committee in 1994. It notes with appreciation that it had made the protection and promotion of the rights of the child a general rule in the society.
4. The Committee welcomes the new laws, at national and at Autonomous Community levels, adopted by the State party to ensure better compliance of the domestic legislation with the provisions of the Convention, in line with its previous recommendation (CRC/C/15/Add.28 of 24 October 1994, para.18). In particular, it notes the Organizational Act 1/1996 of 15 January on the legal protection of minors and partial amendment of the Civil Code and the Civil Proceedings Act (the Protection of Minors Act), the Organizational Act 5/2000 of 12 January on penal responsibility for minors and the amendments to the Criminal code with reference to offences against sexual integrity (Act 11/1999) and protection of victims of ill-treatment (Act 14/1999).
5. The Committee notes with satisfaction that, in line with its previous recommendation on coordination mechanisms (ibid., para.12), the State party established the Observatory for Children in 1999. It further notes that some Autonomous Communities created institutions or services specifically in charge of children such as, among others, the Council of Children's Affairs of Andalusia, the Office for the Defence of the Rights of the Child of the Balearic Islands, the provincial coordination committee s for the care of children in Castilla-La Mancha and the Institute for Children and the Family of Madrid, and that a network of Municipalities for children's rights was established in 1996.
6. The Committee notes the various social programmes and policies for children, at national and Autonomous Community levels, including the Basic Services of Social Services of Local Corporations, the Programme for the Social Comprehensive Intervention for Poverty Eradication, programmes for the support of families in special situations and, in line with its previous recommendation (ibid., para.21), the National Plan of Action for the Social Inclusion of the Kingdom of Spain of 2001 and the Comprehensive Plan for the Support to the Family (2001-2004).
7. The Committee welcomes the establishment of a post of Assistant of the Defensor del Pueblo (Spanish Ombudsman) in charge of issues related to children, who can also receive complaints. It further notes the establishment of various independent organs dealing with violations of children's rights at Autonomous Community level.
8. In line with its previous recommendation (ibid., para.20), the Committee welcomes the improvement of safeguards in the cases of intercountry adoption contained in Act 1/1996 and the ratification of the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in respect of Intercountry Adoption.
9. The Committee notes with satisfaction that, in line with its previous recommendation (ibid. para.15), the State party increased its assistance to developing countries in the field of children and notes in particular that Spain was the third donour country to the IPEC programme for the period 2000-2001.
10. The Committee notes with appreciation that Spain was the first European country to ratify both the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, respectively on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and on the involvement of children in armed conflicts. It further notes the ratification of ILO Convention No.182 concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour.
C. Principal areas of concern and recommendation
1. General Measures of Implementation
(arts. 4, 42 and 44, paragraph 6 of the Convention)
Committee's previous recommendations
The Committee regrets that some of the concerns
and recommendations (CRC/C/15/Add.28 of
24 October 1994) it made upon consideration
of the State party's initial report (CRC/C/8/Add.6)
have been insufficiently addressed, particularly
those contained in paras. 12 (coordination),
13 (data collection), 14 (resources for
children), 16 (non-discrimination), 18 (legislation),
22 (child asylum seekers and unaccompanied
children), and 23 (ratification of the International
Convention on the Protection of the Rights
of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their
Families). The Committee notes that those
concerns and recommendations are reiterated
in the present document.
12. The Committee urges the State party to make every effort to address those recommendations from the concluding observations of the initial report that have not yet been implemented and to address the list of concerns contained in the present concluding observations on the second periodic report.
13. The Committee shares the concern expresses by the State party (CRC/C/70/Add.9, para.103) that future progress in the field of child legislation will have to lie in the area of real guarantees of the exercise of the rights enunciated in the legal instruments, including more explicit recognition of the Convention as a part of positive law and more widespread citation of the Convention in legal procedures.
14. The Committee encourages the State party to fully implement the legislation with a rights-based approach in conformity with the Convention.
Coordination and comprehensive strategy
15. The Committee, while recognising the efforts made by the State party to improve the coordination, including through the work of the Observatory for Children, shares the concerns raised by the State party (ibid., paras.128-129) about the need of intersectoral policies for children and the improvement of existing coordination in order to secure integrated action both at national and at Autonomous Community levels. It further notes with concern the absence of a comprehensive policy for children.
16. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) strengthen effective coordination within and between government agencies at national, regional and local levels in the implementation of policies for the promotion and protection of the child, as already recommended (ibid., para.12);
(b) formulate a comprehensive strategy for children on the basis of the principles and provisions of the Convention ; and
(c) develop and enforce intersectoral policies for children.
Resources for children
17. The Committee notes with concern that there is not yet a balanced redistribution of resources at the central, regional and local levels and that not all the Autonomous Communities provide the same level of social policies and services for the most marginalised groups in society, in particular, poor families, single parents families, as well as for Roma children and children of migrant families. It notes with particular concern the budgetary problems affecting the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla with reference to care of unaccompanied migrant children.
18. In light of article 4 of the Convention and in line with its previous recommendation (ibid., para.14), the Committee encourages the State party:
(a) to consider ways through which all children can be guaranteed equal access to the same standard of services, irrespective of where they live, for example, by establishing nationwide minimum standards for, and allocation of resources to, the implementation of the Convention's provisions, in particular in the areas of health, education and other social welfare services;
(b) to identify clearly its priorities with respect to child rights issues in order to ensure that funds are allocated "to the maximum extent of […] available resources" for the full implementation of the economic, social and cultural rights of children, in particular for children belonging to the most vulnerable groups in society; and
(c) to identify the amount and proportion of the budget spent on children at the national, regional and local levels in order to evaluate the impact and effect of the expenditures on children.
The Committee, while welcoming the creation
of a Basic Statistics on Child Protection
and of a database on children and the efforts
of the Observatory for Children to harmonise
the system with the Autonomous communities,
remains concerned at the fragmentation of
information, due also to the various systems
and indicators existing in each Autonomous
20. In line with its previous recommendation (ibid., para.13), the Committee reiterates its recommendation that the State party:
(a) strengthen its mechanism to collect and analyse systematically disaggregated data on all persons under 18 for all areas covered by the Convention, with special emphasis on the most vulnerable groups, including Roma children and children belonging to migrant families; unaccompanied migrant children and children of economically and socially disadvantaged households;
(b) use these indicators and data effectively for the formulation and evaluation of policies and programmes for the implementation and monitoring of the Convention.
21. While noting with appreciation efforts to disseminate the Convention among NGOs and the media, the Committee considers that education for children and the public at large and training activities for professional groups on children's rights need ongoing attention, also to provide a better understanding of the legal obligations of the Convention.
22. In line with its previous recommendation (ibid., para.16), the Committee reiterates its recommendation that the State party:
(a) continue and strengthen its efforts to disseminate the Convention both to children and to the broader public, including appropriate material specifically for children translated in the different languages spoken in the Kingdom of Spain, including the ones of migrant children;
(b) undertake systematic education and training programmes on the principles and provisions of the Convention for all professional groups working for and with children, such as judges, lawyers, law enforcement officials, civil servants, teachers, health personnel and social workers.
2. Definition of the child
(article 1 of the Convention)
23. The Committee expresses its concern at the low age of marriage, which can be 14 years of age with the judge's permission, and at the wide variety of minimum ages in civil matters in the various Autonomous Communities.
24. The Committee recommends that the State party review its legislation with a view to increasing the minimum age of marriage and harmonising minimum ages for civil matters in the various Autonomous Communities.
3. General principles (arts. 2, 3, 6 and 12 of the Convention)
The Committee is concerned that the principles
of non-discrimination (art. 2 of the Convention),
best interests of the child (art. 3), right
to life, survival and development of the
child (art.6) and respect for the views
of the child (art. 12) are not fully reflected
in the State party's legislation and administrative
and judicial decisions, as well as in policies
and programmes relevant to children at both
national and local levels.
26. The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation (ibid., para.11) that the State party:
a) appropriately integrate general principles of the Convention, namely articles 2, 3, 6 and 12, in all relevant legislation concerning children;
b) apply them in all political, judicial and administrative decisions, as well as in projects, programmes and services which have an impact on all children; and
c) apply these principles in planning and policy-making at every level, as well as in actions taken by social and health welfare and educational institutions, courts of law and administrative authorities.
27. The Committee is concerned that the principle of non-discrimination (art. 2 of the Convention) is not fully implemented for children of Roma origin, children of migrant workers, particularly when they are not legal, and unaccompanied foreign children, especially with regard to their access to adequate health care and educational facilities.
28. The Committee recommends that the State party:
a) monitor the situation of children, in particular those belonging to the above-mentioned vulnerable groups, who are exposed to discrimination; and
b) develop, on the basis of the results of this monitoring, comprehensive strategies containing specific and well targeted actions aimed at eliminating all forms of discrimination.
29. The Committee requests that specific information be included, in the next periodic report, on the measures and programmes relevant to the Convention on the Rights of the Child undertaken by the State party to follow up on the Declaration and Programme of Action adopted at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, and taking account of General Comment no. 1 on article 29(1) of the Convention (aims of education).
4. Civil rights and freedoms (arts. 7, 8, 13-17 and 37 (a) of the Convention)
30. In light of its previous recommendation (ibid., para.18), the Committee deeply regrets that article 154 of the Spanish Civil Code stating that parents "may administer punishment to their children reasonably and in moderation" has not yet been revised. It acknowledges the information provided in the State party's Replies to the List of Issues that a draft law for the revision of article 154 is under development.
31. The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation to amend article 154 in order to delete the reference to reasonable chastisement. It further recommends that the State party:
(a) prohibit all forms of violence including corporal punishment in the upbringing of children in conformity with article 19 of the Convention;
(b) conduct awareness campaigns and engage in the promotion of alternative forms of discipline in families.
5. Family environment and alternative care
(arts.5; 18 (paras.1-2); 9-11; 19-21; 25; 27 (para.4); and 39 of the Convention)
Children deprived of family environment
32. The Committee notes with concern that there are different procedures for child's protection in the 17 Autonomous Communities, not always compatible with the best interest of the child, especially with regard to children placed in foster families. It further notes that there is an insufficient number of Family courts dealing with the protection of children not in conflict with the law and that they take a long time to deal with the judicial procedures.
33. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) ensure that procedures for child's protection have a minimum common standard and are compatible with the best interest of the child;
(b) provide more human and financial resources to Family courts so they can deal with their work more expeditiously.
34. The Committee expresses its concern at delays in the procedure for family reunification of recognised refugees, in particular for the issuance of the necessary visa and travel documents by the Spanish Ministry of foreign affairs.
35. In light of article 10 of the Convention and in line with its previous recommendation (ibid., para.22), the Committee reiterates its recommendation that applications for asylum made for the purpose of family reunification be dealt with in a positive, humane and expeditious manner.
Abuse and neglect
36. The Committee, while acknowledging the important role of the System of Social Care for Children in Social Difficulties (SASI), remains concerned about the extent of domestic, the lack of standardised procedures for the identification and reporting of cases of neglect, ill-treatment and abuse, and the limited services for the support of victims.
37. In light of article 19 of the Convention, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Undertake studies on domestic violence, violence against children, ill-treatment and abuse, including sexual abuse, and implement the statistical system created to keep a record of incidents of physical and mental violence and neglect against children, in order to assess the extent, scope and nature of these practices;
(b) Adopt and implement effectively adequate measures and policies, including public campaigns, and contribute to changing attitudes;
(c) Investigate effectively cases of domestic violence and ill-treatment and abuse of children, including sexual abuse within the family, within a child-sensitive inquiry and judicial procedure in order to ensure better protection of child victims, including the protection of their right to privacy;
(d) Take measures to provide support services to children in legal proceedings, and for the physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of the victims of rape, abuse, neglect, ill-treatment and violence, in accordance with article 39 of the Convention;
(e) Take into account the Committee's recommendations adopted at its days of general discussion on "Violence Against Children within the Family and in Schools" (CRC/C/111) and on "State Violence against Children" (CRC/C/100).
Basic health and welfare
6; 18, para. 3; 23; 24; 26; 27, paras 1-3
of the Convention)
38. The Committee notes with concern the number of children and adolescents addicted to drugs; in particular synthetic drugs; alcohol and smoking and the fact that consumption of alcohol and tobacco is socially accepted and not perceived as a risk. It further expresses its concern at the increase in the number of teenage pregnancies.
39. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Enforce existing programmes, such as the National Drug Plan for 2002-2008 and those at Autonomous Community level, with a focus on preventive action and awareness raising on the danger of synthetic drugs, alcohol and tobacco;
(b) take steps to address adolescent health concerns, including teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases through, inter-alia, sex education including birth control measures such as the use of condoms;
(c) Strengthen its mental health and counselling services ensuring that these are accessible and sensitive to adolescents.
Harmful traditional practices
The Committee expresses its concern at reports
that female genital mutilation is practiced
in Spain on girls of sub Saharan origin.
41. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Undertake a study on the extent and nature of female genital mutilation (FGM) practised in Spain or abroad on girls who live in Spain;
(b) Organise an information and awareness campaign, taking into account the result of the study, to prevent FGM; and
(c) Take the necessary steps to prohibit this harmful practice.
7. Education, leisure and cultural activities (arts. 28, 29, 31 of the Convention)
42. The Committee notes with concern:
(a) the high rate of truancy and school drop out and the difficult school integration especially among Roma children, children belonging to migrant families or living in socio-economically deprived areas;
(b) that some children belonging to migrant families, particularly girls, do not complete their compulsory education or have great difficulties in attending school;
(c) the rather widespread bullying in schools;
(d) the negative impact of terrorism on children's development;
The Committee further notes that a Quality Education Act is under development.
43. In light of articles 28 and 29 of the Convention, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) ensure regular attendance at schools and the reduction of truancy and drop-out rates, especially with regard to Roma children and children belonging to migrant families;
(b) take measures to prevent bullying and other forms of violence in schools, also in light of the Committee's recommendations adopted at its day of general discussion on "Violence Against Children within the Family and in Schools" (CRC/C/111);
(c) ensure that the educational process will promote the culture of peace and tolerance, as well as address the negative impact of terrorism on the physical and psychological wellbeing of children;
(d) take into consideration the Committee's general comments No.1 on the aims of education in the development of the Quality Education Act.
8. Special protection measures (arts. 22, 38, 39, 40, 37 (b)-(d), 32-36 of the Convention)
Unaccompanied foreign children
44. The Committee is deeply alarmed about the conditions of unaccompanied foreign children, mostly Moroccans, especially in the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla. In particular, it expresses its concern at reports of:
(a) ill-treatment of children by police during forced expulsion to the country of origin where, in some cases, they were deported without access to legal assistance and interpretation;
(b) failure to provide to these children the temporary legal residency status to which they are entitled to under the law because the Department of Social Welfare, as their legal guardian, did not apply;
(c) overcrowding and bad conditions of residential centres and cases of ill-treatment by residential centres staff and other children;
(d) denial of access to health care and education, although guaranteed by law;
(e) summary expulsions of children without controlling that they are effectively returned to family or social welfare agencies in their country of origin.
45. The Committee recommends that the State party urgently take the necessary measures in order to:
(a) ensure the implementation of Organizational Act 4/2000 and other laws by providing to unaccompanied foreign children access to residential care, education, emergency services and other health care, and temporary residency documents;
(b) provide the Autonomous Cities of Ceuta and Melilla with the necessary financial and human resources for the care of these children;
(c) coordinate with the Government of Morocco to ensure that when children are repatriated from Spain to Morocco, they are returned to family members willing to care for them or to an appropriate social service agency;
(d) take all measures to prevent irregular procedures in the expulsion of unaccompanied foreign children;
(e) investigate in an effective way reported cases of ill treatment of these children;
(f) provide unaccompanied foreign children with information about their rights under Spanish and international law, including the right to apply for asylum;
(g) take all necessary measures to improve conditions and safety of residential centres and train adequately residential centres staff;
(h) establish effective mechanisms to receive and address complaints from children in care, to monitor standards of care and, in light of article 25 of the Convention, establish regular periodic review of placements;
(i) consider signing and ratifying the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrants Workers and Members of Their Families, as previously recommended (ibid., para.23).
The Committee expresses its concern at reports
of incidence of child labour taking place
especially in the area of family business
or in the agricultural sector and at the
lack of information on this issue.
47. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Undertake studies, such as the one conducted by the Ministry of Social Labour and Social affairs and the Spanish Committee for UNICEF on "Diagnosis concerning various types of exploitation of juveniles in Spain", to assess the nature and extent of child labour in Spain, in particular in family businesses and in the agricultural sector;
(b) develop, on the basis of the results of these studies, comprehensive strategies containing specific and well targeted actions aimed at preventing and eliminating child labour
(c) continue to implement programmes aimed at preventing and eliminating child labour, through awareness raising activities, detection of causative factors and prevention.
The Committee expresses its concern at reports
of child prostitution in the suburbs of
large cities and in holiday resorts, involving
vulnerable children living on the fringes
49. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Protect all persons under 18 from all forms of sexual exploitation, even when children have consented, under the pressure of money, threats or, allegedly, "free" consent, to such acts;
(b) organise campaigns for protection against sexual abuse, prostitution and child pornography;
(c) implement the National Plan of Action against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children 2002-2003.
Children belonging to minority groups
50. While noting the State party's policies targeting the specific needs of the Roma, such as the projects for the Social Comprehensive Intervention for the Care, Prevention of Exclusion and Integration of the Gypsy people and the Gypsy Development Plan, the Committee remains concerned by the difficult social situation of Roma children and their insufficient access to the education system.
51. The Committee strongly urges the State party to:
a) Take measures to improve and implement more effectively existing legislation and policies with regard to assuring protection of the rights of all children from minority groups, giving particular attention to the situation of Roma children;
b) continue to ensure the participation of persons from minorities, including children, in the drafting and implementation of these policies.
Administration of juvenile justice
The Committee welcomes the adoption of the
Organizational Act 5/2000 of 12 January
on penal responsibility for minors with
its educational character but notes that
it needs additional human and financial
resource for an effective implementation.
It further notes with concern that the Organizational
Act 7/2000 on terrorism increases the period
of police custody and the length of prison
term for children accused of terrorism (to
up to 10 years). It expresses its concern
also at the fact that deprivation of liberty
is not used as last resort and that in some
cases detention centres are overcrowded.
53. In light of articles 37 to 40 and other relevant international standards, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) allocate adequate human and financial resources in order to ensure the full implementation of the Organizational Act 5/2000;
(b) align the period of police custody for children accused of terrorism with the provisions provided for in the law 5/2000 on penal responsibility and review the length of prison terms for children accused of terrorism;
(c) provide training on the new juvenile system to those responsible for administering juvenile justice;
(d) encourage in practice the use of alternative measures to the deprivation of liberty.
9. Dissemination of reports
54. Finally, the Committee recommends that, in light of article 44, paragraph 6, of the Convention, the second periodic report and written replies presented by the State party be made widely available to the public at large and that the publication of the report be considered, along with the relevant summary records and the concluding observations adopted by the Committee. Such a document should be widely distributed in order to generate debate and awareness of the Convention and its implementation and monitoring within the Government, the Parliament and the general public, including concerned non-governmental organisations.
10. Periodicity for submission of reports
55. In light of the recommendation on reporting periodicity adopted by the Committee and described in its report of the 29th Committee session (CRC/C/114), the Committee underlines the importance of a reporting practice that is in full compliance with the provisions of article 44 of the Convention. An important aspect of States' responsibilities to children under the Convention includes ensuring that the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has regular opportunities to examine the progress made in the Convention's implementation. In this regard, regular and timely reporting by State parties is crucial. As an exceptional measure, in order to help the State party catch up with its reporting obligations in full compliance with the Convention, the Committee invites the State party to submit its 3rd and 4th reports in one consolidated report by 4 January 2008, which is the date for submission of the 4th report. The Committee expects the State Party to report thereafter every 5 years, as foreseen by the Convention.