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Concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child

CRC/C/15/Add.123

          
          UNITED
          NATIONS CRC
          tW,
          7w
          Convention on the
          Rights of the Child
          Distr.
          GENERAL
          CRC/C/15/Add. 123
          28 June 2000
          Original: ENGLISH
          COMMUTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
          Twenty-fourth session
          CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
          UNDER ARTICLE 44 OF THE CONVENTION
          Concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child
          ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN
          1. The Committee considered the initial report of the Islamic Republic of Iran
          (CRC/C/4lIAdd.5), submitted on 9 December 1997, at its 617th and 618th meetings
          (see CRC/C/SR.617-618), held on 16 May 2000, and adopted* the following concluding
          observations.
          A. Introduction
          2. The Committee notes that the State party's report (CRC/C/41/Add.5) was prepared
          according to the Committee's guidelines for reporting. The Committee regrets, however, that the
          report is essentially legalistic and does not provide a self-critical evaluation of the prevailing
          situation of the exercise of children's rights in the country. Moreover, the Committee notes that
          the rights of the child are seen through a paternalistic lens; the child is not seen as an active
          subject of human rights. There are significant gaps in information relating to general measures
          of implementation, general principles, particularly non-discrimination and the best interests of
          the child, civil rights and freedoms and special protection measures. The Committee welcomes
          the responses to the list of issues which partially remedied these gaps.
          At the 64 1st meeting, held on 2 June 2000.
          GE.00-42991 (E)
        
          
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          B. Positive aspects
          3. The Commiftee welcomes the State party's progress in achieving most of the goals for
          the year 2000 laid down in the Plan of Action for Implementing the World Declaration on the
          Survival, Protection and Development of Children in the 1 990s.
          4. The Commiftee notes that article 30 of the Constitution provides free education for all
          citizens up to secondary school, and that over 90 per cent of children 6-10 years enjoy access to
          primary education.
          S. The Commiftee notes that the State party hosts the largest refugee population in the
          world, around 2.1 million people, including a large percentage of children, and has provided
          assistance, generally with speed and effectiveness and with only limited help from the
          international community.
          C. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Convention
          6. Noting the universal values of equality and tolerance inherent in Islam, and concurring
          with the Human Rights Commiftee and the Commiftee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
          the Commiftee observes that narrow interpretations of Islamic texts by State authorities are
          impeding the enjoyment of many human rights protected under the Convention.
          D. Principal subjects of concern and recommendations
          1. General measures of implementation
          Legislation
          7. Noting information from the State party that a Governmental working group has been
          established to study the compatibility of existing laws with the Convention, the Commiftee is
          nevertheless concerned that the broad and imprecise nature of the State party's general
          reservation potentially negates many of the Convention's provisions and raises concern as to its
          compatibility with the object and purpose of the Convention.
          8. The Committee recommends that the State party expedite this study and use the
          findings to review the general nature of its reservation with a view to narrowing and, in
          the long-term, withdrawing in accordance with the Vienna Declaration and Programme of
          Action.
          Coordination
        
          
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          9. The Commiftee is concerned that the lack of administrative coordination and cooperation
          at the national and local levels of government is a major problem in the implementation of the
          Convention.
        
          
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          10. The Committee recommends to the State party to: adopt a comprehensive national
          plan of action to implement the Convention; allocate the necessary resources, both human
          and financial; develop professional capacity; and give attention to intersectoral
          coordination and cooperation at and between national and local levels of government.
          The State party is encouraged to provide adequate support to local authorities for
          implementation of the Convention. The Committee recommends that the State party seek
          assistance from UNICEF and OHCHR, among others.
          Independent/monitoring structures
          ii. The Committee emphasizes the importance of setting up an independent mechanism with
          the mandate regularly to monitor and evaluate progress in the implementation of the Convention
          at the national and local levels.
          12. The Committee encourages the State party to establish a statutory, independent
          institution, adequately staffed and resourced, with the mandate regularly to monitor and
          evaluate progress in the implementation of the Convention and empowered to receive and
          address complaints of violations of children's rights. The Committee recommends that the
          State party seek assistance from UNICEF and OHCHR, among others.
          Allocation of budgetary resources
          13. Noting the State party's efforts to implement various child-oriented programmes, the
          Committee nevertheless expresses its concern that insufficient attention has been paid to article 4
          of the Convention regarding the implementation to the “maximum extent of... available
          resources” of the economic, social and cultural rights of children.
          14. The Committee recommends that the State party develop ways to establish a
          systematic assessment of the impact of budgetary allocations on the implementation of
          children's rights, and collect and disseminate information in this regard. The Committee
          recommends that the State party ensure the adequate distribution of resources at the
          national and local levels, where needed, within the framework of international cooperation.
          Cooperation with NGOs
          15. The Committee notes that cooperation with non-governmental organizations in the
          implementation of the Convention, including preparation of the report, remains limited.
          16. The Committee encourages the State party to consider a systematic approach to
          involving NGOs, and civil society in general, in all stages of the implementation of the
          Convention, including policy-making.
          Training/dissemination of the Convention
          17. Although the Convention is binding and has the force of law, according to article 9 of the
          Civil Code and article 77 of the Constitution, the Committee is concerned that it has not been
        
          
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          invoked in the courts because of insufficient awareness of the Convention amongst the judiciary.
          lawyers and the general public, including children, despite efforts by the State party to inform
          children of their rights. In this regard, the Committee is concerned that the State party is not
          undertaking adequate dissemination and awareness-raising activities in a systematic and targeted
          manner.
          18. The Committee recommends that the State party develop an ongoing programme
          for the dissemination of information regarding the implementation of the Convention
          among children and parents, civil society and all sectors and levels of government. The
          Committee encourages the State party to pursue efforts to promote children's rights
          education in the country, including initiatives to reach the most vulnerable groups.
          Moreover, the Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its efforts and
          develop systematic and ongoing training programmes on the provisions of the Convention
          for all professional groups working with children (e.g. judges, lawyers, law enforcement
          officials, civil servants, local government officials, personnel working in institutions and
          places of detention for children, teachers, health personnel, including psychologists, and
          social workers). The Committee encourages the State party to seek assistance from
          OHCHR and UNICEF, among others, in this regard.
          2. Definition of the child
          19. The Committee notes information that the State par is making efforts to study the age
          of maturity of females. Nevertheless, the Committee is concerned that the definition of the child,
          under Note 1 of article 1212 of the Civil Code and Note 1 of article 49 of the Islamic Penal Law.
          which provide for the attainment of majority at predefined ages of puberty, result in arbitrary and
          disparate application of laws and discriminate between girls and boys with respect to legal
          capaci (including minimum age for marriage), civil liability and age of criminal responsibility.
          20. The Committee recommends that the State party review its legislation so that the
          definition of the child and minimum age requirements conform to the principles and
          provisions of the Convention, and in particular that they are gender neutral, and ensure
          that they are enforced.
          3. General principles
          Non-discrimination
          21. The Committee is concerned at the persistence of discrimination under the law. In
          particular:
          (a) The Committee finds that discrimination against girls and children born out of
          wedlock under the Civil and Penal Codes is incompatible with article 2. Moreover, the
          Committee is concerned that discriminatory social attitudes towards the education of girls,
          primarily in rural areas, result in low school enrolments and high drop-out rates, and in early and
          forced marriages;
        
          
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          (b) The Committee finds that infringement of a child's rights under the Convention as
          a result of indirect discrimination, or discrimination against his or her mother, under the Civil
          Code (e.g. in relation to custody, guardianship and nationality ) is incompatible with article 2.
          The Committee expresses its concern at the persistence of stereotypical attitudes about the roles
          and responsibilities of women and men.
          22. Concurring with the findings of the Human Rights Committee (CCPRICI79IAdd.25)
          and the Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights (EIC.121199317), and in
          accordance with article 2 of the Convention, the Committee recommends that the State
          party take effective measures to prevent and eliminate discrimination on the grounds of sex
          and birth in all fields of civil, economic, political, social and cultural life. The Committee
          recommends that the State party make every effort to enact or rescind, where necessary,
          civil and criminal legislation to prohibit any such discrimination. In this regard, the
          Committee encourages the State party to consider the practices of other States that have
          been successful in reconciling fundamental rights with Islamic texts. The Committee
          recommends that the State party take all appropriate measures, such as comprehensive
          public education campaigns, to prevent and combat negative societal attitudes in this
          regard, particularly within the family. Religious leaders should be mobilized to support
          such efforts.
          23. As noted by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (A/54/18.
          paras. 294-313), the Committee is concerned at the large disparities in the enj ovment of rights in
          provinces inhabited largely by persons belonging to ethnic minorities, especially in Sistan and
          Baluchestan. Lorestan, West Azarbaijan. Ardabil and Hormozgan.
          24. The Committee recommends that the State party take all necessary measures to
          ensure that all children within its jurisdiction enjoy all the rights set out in the Convention
          without discrimination, in accordance with article 2. The Committee recommends that the
          State party prioritize and target social services for children belonging to the most
          vulnerable groups.
          Best interests of the child
          25. The Committee is concerned that in all actions concerning children, the general principle
          of the best interests of the child contained in article 3 of the Convention is not a primary
          consideration, including in matters relating to family law (e.g. duration of custody under
          articles 1169 and 1170 of the Civil Law is arbitrary as it is determined by the child's age, and is
          discriminatory against the mother).
          26. The Committee recommends that the State party review its legislation and
          administrative measures to ensure that article 3 of the Convention is duly reflected therein.
          Right to life
          27. The Committee is seriously concerned that respect for the inherent right to life of a
          person under 18 is not guaranteed under the law, particularly in light of article 220 of the
          Penal Law, which provides that a man who kills his ovs T1 child or his son's child is subject only
          to discretionary punishment and the payment of blood money.
        
          
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          28. The Committee recommends that the State party take all necessary measures to
          ensure that there is no discriminatory treatment for such crimes, and ensure prompt and
          thorough investigations and prosecutions.
          29. In light of articles 6 and 37 (a) of the Convention, the Commiftee is seriously disturbed at
          the applicability of the death penalty for crimes commifted by persons under 18 and emphasizes
          that such a penalty is incompatible with the Convention.
          30. The Committee strongly recommends that the State party take immediate steps to
          halt and abolish by law the imposition of the death penalty for crimes committed by
          persons under 18.
          Respect for the views of the child
          31. The Commiftee welcomes the initiation of the “school mayor” programme, but is
          nevertheless concerned that respect for the views of the child remains limited owing to
          traditional societal aftitudes towards children in schools, the courts, and especially within the
          family. The Commiftee is concerned that the child's views may only be represented in judicial
          proceedings affecting him or her through the father, paternal grandfather or other appointed
          guardian and not directly by the child. The Commiftee is of the opinion that article 1041 of the
          Civil Code providing that the marriage of a minor is valid if the father or legal guardian has
          given his consent, notwithstanding the views of the child, is incompatible with the Convention.
          32. The Committee encourages the State party to promote and facilitate within the
          family, the school, the courts and administrative bodies respect for the views of children
          and their participation in all matters affecting them in accordance with article 12 of the
          Convention. In this regard, the Committee recommends that the State party develop
          skills-training programmes in community settings for teachers, social workers and local
          officials to enable them to assist children to express their informed decisions and take these
          views into consideration. The Committee recommends that the State party take all
          necessary measures to halt early and forced marriages, including public education
          campaigns, particularly in rural areas. The Committee recommends that the State party
          seek assistance from UNICEF, among others.
          4. Civil rights and freedoms
          Freedoms of expression and assembly
          33. The Commiftee is concerned that although the freedoms of expression and assembly are
          formally recognized in the Constitution, the exercise of these rights by children are restricted by
          vaguely worded limitation clauses (i.e. “in accordance with Islamic criteria”), which potentially
          exceed the permifted restrictions set out in paragraph 2 of articles 13 and 15 of the Convention.
          The Commiftee is concerned at reports of incidents of threats and violence by vigilante groups,
          such as Ansari-Hezbollah, directed at persons seeking to exercise or to promote the exercise of
          these rights.
        
          
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          34. The Committee recommends that the State party establish clear criteria to assess
          whether a given action or expression is in accordance with interpretations of Islamic texts,
          and consider appropriate and proportionate means to protect public morals while
          safeguarding the right of every child to freedom of expression and assembly.
          Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
          35. The Commiftee emphasizes that the human rights of children cannot be realized
          independently from the human rights of their parents, or in isolation from society at large. In
          light of article 14 of the Convention, the 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of
          Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief (General Assembly
          resolution 36/55), Commission on Human Rights resolution 2000/33, the Human Rights
          Commiftee's General Comment 22, and concurring with the findings of the Human Rights
          Commiftee (CCPR/C/79/Add.25) and the Commiftee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
          (E/C. 12/1993/7), the Commiftee is concerned at the restrictions on the freedom of religion, and
          that restrictions on the freedom to manifest one's religion do not comply with the requirements
          outlined in article 14, paragraph 3. The Committee is especially concerned at the situation of
          members of non-recognized religions, including the Baha'is, who experience discrimination in
          areas of, inter alia , education, employment, travel, housing and the enjoyment of cultural
          activities.
          36. The Committee recommends that the State party take effective measures to prevent
          and eliminate discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief in the recognition, exercise
          and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all fields of civil, economic,
          political, social and cultural life. The Committee recommends that the State party make
          every effort to enact or rescind, where necessary, legislation to prohibit any such
          discrimination, and take all appropriate measures, including public education campaigns,
          to combat intolerance on the grounds of religion or other belief. The Committee endorses
          the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur on the question of religious
          intolerance following his visit to the State party (EICN.4 119961951Add.2) and recommends
          that the State party implement them fully.
          Protection from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
          37. In light of article 37 (a) of the Convention, the Commiftee is seriously concerned that
          persons who commifted crimes while under 18 can be subjected to corporal punishment under
          Note 2 of article 49 of the Islamic Penal Law, or can be subjected to a variety of types of cmel,
          inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment such as amputation, flogging and stoning,
          which are systematically imposed by judicial authorities. Concurring with the Human Rights
          Commiftee (CCPR/C/79/Add.25), the Commiftee finds that application of such measures is
          incompatible with the Convention.
          38. The Committee recommends that the State party take all necessary steps to end the
          imposition of corporal punishment under Note 2 of article 49 of the Islamic Penal Law and
          the imposition of amputation, flogging, stoning and other forms of cruel, inhuman or
        
          
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          degrading treatment and punishment to persons who may have committed crimes while
          under 18.
          5. Family environment and alternative care
          Violence/abuse/neglect/maltreatment
          39. In light of articles 19 and 39 of the Convention, the Committee is concerned that
          legislation provides for corporal punishment within the family, under Note 2 of article 49 and
          article 59 of the Islamic Penal Law and article 1179 of the Civil Code.
          40. The Committee recommends that the State party take legislative measures to
          prohibit all forms of physical and mental violence against children, including corporal
          punishment and sexual abuse, in the family and in the schools. The Committee
          recommends that these measures be accompanied by public education campaigns about the
          negative consequences of ill-treatment of children. The Committee recommends that the
          State party promote positive, non-violent forms of discipline as an alternative to corporal
          punishment, especially in the home and the schools. Programmes for the rehabilitation
          and reintegration of abused children need to be strengthened. Moreover, adequate
          procedures and mechanisms need to be established to: receive complaints; monitor,
          investigate and prosecute instances of ill-treatment; and ensure that the abused child is not
          victimized in legal proceedings. The Committee recommends the training of teachers, law
          enforcement officials, care workers, judges and health professionals in identifying,
          reporting and managing cases of ill-treatment. Attention should be given to addressing
          and overcoming socio-cultural barriers that inhibit victims from seeking assistance. The
          Committee recommends that the State party seek assistance from UNICEF and WHO,
          among others.
          6. Basic health and welfare
          Children with disabilities
          41. While there are support mechanisms for the care of children with disabilities, the
          Committee is concerned that inadequate efforts has been made to include such children in
          mainstream society.
          42. The Committee recommends that the State party review existing policies and
          practices in relation to children with disabilities, taking due regard of the Standard Rules
          on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (General Assembly
          resolution 48/96) and of the Committee's recommendations adopted on its day of general
          discussion on children with disabilities (CRCICI69) and ensure that they enjoy all the rights
          contained in the Convention. The Committee encourages the State party to make greater
          efforts to promote community-based rehabilitation programmes and inclusive education.
          The Committee encourages the State party to undertake greater efforts to make the
          necessary resources available, and to seek assistance from UNICEF, WHO, and relevant
          NGOs, among others.
        
          
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          Right to health and health care
          43. Noting the significant achievements made in the area of child health, the Committee is
          however concerned at the insufficient information available in relation to adolescent health,
          including on reproductive health services. STD and HIV/AIDS prevention programmes.
          counselling services and substance abuse.
          44. The Committee recommends that the State party undertake a comprehensive study
          to determine the nature and extent of adolescent health problems, with the full
          participation of adolescents, and use this as a basis to formulate adolescent health policies
          and programmes. In light of article 24, the Committee recommends that adolescents have
          access to and be provided with reproductive health education and child-friendly
          counselling and rehabilitation services. The Committee recommends that the State party
          seek assistance from UNICEF and WHO, among others.
          Right to an adequate standard of living
          45. The Committee is concerned about large numbers of children living and/or working on
          the streets, particularly in urban centres such as Tehran and Isfahan, who are amongst the most
          marginalized groups of children in Iran.
          46. The Committee recommends that the State party establish mechanisms to ensure
          that these children are provided with identity documents, food, clothing and housing.
          Moreover, the State party should ensure that these children have access to health care;
          rehabilitation services for physical, sexual, and substance abuse; services for reconciliation
          with their families; comprehensive education, including vocational and life-skills training;
          and legal aid. The Committee recommends that the State party seek assistance from
          UNICEF, among others.
          7. Education, leisure and cultural activities
          Aims of education
          47. Noting significant efforts by the State party to improve education coverage, the
          Committee is concerned that the aims of education as presented in paragraphs 15 0-152 of the
          report do not adequately reflect the aims outlined in article 29 of the Convention, particularly in
          regard to the development and respect for human rights, tolerance, and equality of the sexes and
          religious and ethnic minorities.
          48. The Committee recommends that the State party take due regard of the aims of
          education laid down in article 29 and consider introducing human rights, including the
          Convention on the Rights of the Child, into the school curricula, including at the primary
          school level. The Committee encourages the State party to seek assistance from UNICEF,
          UNESCO and relevant NGOs, among others.
        
          
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          8. Special measures of protection
          Unaccompanied, asylum-seeking and refugee children
          49. The Committee is concerned that many refugee children remain unregistered, which
          limits their ability to fully utilize social services, including schools.
          50. The Committee recommends that the State party: ratify the 1954 Convention
          relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of
          Statelessness; set up a central system of registration and monitoring of refugees in order to
          provide accurate statistics, and clarify the status of refugees; adopt special measures to
          deal with unaccompanied children; entertain requests for family reunification in view of its
          impact of the possibility of resettlement in third countries of asylum; and review
          discriminatory employment policies (i.e. issuance of work permits) which affect the
          capacity of refugee families, particularly Afghan refugees, to support themselves. The
          Committee encourages the State party to continue and expand its cooperation with
          international agencies, including UNHCR and UNICEF.
          Economic exploitation
          51. The Committee is concerned at the large numbers of children involved in child labour,
          especially in the informal sector, such as household enterprises and agriculture, many of whom
          are working in hazardous conditions.
          52. The Committee recommends that the State party raise the age for the end of
          compulsory education to the minimum age of admission to employment as set out under
          article 79 of the Labour Act. Employers should be required to have and produce on
          demand proof of age of all children working on their premises, and the State party
          should vigorously pursue enforcement of minimum-age standards. In light of the State
          party's assertion that child labour legislation is in conformity with ILO standards
          (CRC/C/41/Add.5, para. 4), the Committee encourages the State party to ratify the
          ILO Conventions concerning child labour, including the Convention concerning the
          Minimum Age for Admission to Employment (No. 138), and the Convention concerning the
          Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour
          (No. 182). The Committee recommends that the State party seek assistance from ILO,
          among others.
          Administration of juvenile justice
          53. The Committee is concerned that persons under 18 may be prosecuted for crimes in the
          same manner as adults, without special procedures; are potentially liable for the same penalties
          as adults; may be subject to deprivation of liberty without due process under article 49 of the
          Islamic Penal Law; and, apart from facilities in some large cities. may be held in detention with
          adults. Furthermore, the Conmiittee is concerned that the right of juvenile delinquents to
          protective and rehabilitative measures is not guaranteed.
        
          
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          54. The Committee recommends that the State party establish a system of juvenile
          justice, fully integrating into its legislation and practice the provisions of the Convention, in
          particular articles 37, 40 and 39, as well as other relevant international standards in this
          area, such as the Beijing Rules, the Riyadh Guidelines, the United Nations Rules for the
          Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty, and the Vienna Guidelines for Action on
          Children in the Criminal Justice System. Particular attention should be paid to ensure that
          deprivation of liberty is only used as a measure of last resort, children have access to legal
          aid, and that children are not detained with adults. Facilities and programmes for the
          physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of juveniles should be
          developed. The Committee recommends that the State party seek assistance from
          OHCHR, the Centre for International Crime Prevention, the International Network on
          Juvenile Justice, and UNICEF through the Coordination Panel on Juvenile Justice, among
          others.
          9. Dissemination of the reports
          55. Finally, the Committee recommends that in accordance with article 44,
          paragraph 6, of the Convention, the initial report presented by the State party be made
          widely available to the public at large and that consideration be given to the publication of
          the report along with the written answers to the list of issues raised by the Committee, the
          relevant summary records of the discussion and the concluding observations adopted
          thereon by the Committee following its consideration of the report. 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 NGOs.
        
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