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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

UN Committee on Rights of the Child concerned by systemic violations against children of China’s "minority groups"

September 30, 2013

September 27, 2013 - The Committee on the Rights of the Child today completed its consideration of the combined third to fourth report of China on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the initial report of China on how the country was implementing the Optional Protocol on Children Involved In Armed Conflict.  

Presenting the report, Guide Jia, Deputy Director-General, Department of Treaty and Law, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that there were about 280 million children in China, which was one of the largest child populations in the world.  In 2011 China adopted a 10-year National Program for Child Development.  In 2012, China had added to the Criminal Procedure Law a special criminal procedure for juvenile offenders, and in 2013, China had issued an Action Plan against Human Trafficking.  China had put in place the largest education system in the world, with 520,000 educational institutions of all types nationwide.  Representatives from Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Macao Special Administrative Region provided the Committee Members with information on the implementation of the Convention in the two Special Administration Regions, where the rights of the child had been enhanced in several areas such as healthcare and education.
  
In the interactive dialogue that followed, the Committee commended positive steps taken by China such as legislative reform and adoption of various programmes aimed at improving the situation of children.  Committee Members raised questions concerning a wide range of issues, including China’s one-child policy and the problem of infanticide, selective and forced abortions, the teaching of ethnic languages to ethnic minorities, and freedom of religion and expression.  The Committee expressed concern about reports of ongoing and systematic violations against children, in particular children of minority groups, children belonging to Falun Gong, children with disabilities, migrant children and children affected by HIV/AIDS.   Questions were also asked about juvenile justice, lead poising, healthcare, breastfeeding, access to education and the adoption of orphans.  The provision of military training in secondary schools, the minimum age of conscription and the exports of small firearms were also among issues raised.

In concluding remarks, Hatem Kotrane, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for China, said that China had made significant efforts to protect and promote the rights of the child, and education and health provisions were increasingly improving.  The Committee would like children’s voices to be heard so children could participate more actively in all aspects of family and social life.  Further efforts should be made to ensure greater respect for the freedom of religion, to eradicate all forms of torture against children, to eliminate all measures which might result in a de facto discrimination against children with disabilities, and to strengthen education programmes and policies.   

Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Committee Member acting as Country Co-Rapporteur for China, said that the delegation had shown openness and willingness to engage in dialogue but there was much room for improvement.  China should tackle the issue of military-related education from mainstream schools, review its role of in the export of arms which did not necessarily take into consideration the best interests of children in other countries, and re-examine its role as a permanent member of the Security Council.

The Delegation of China included representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Social Welfare Bureau of Macao Special Administrative Region, the National Working Committee on Children and Women, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Public Security, the State Council Information Office, the Supreme People’s Court, the Ministry of National Defence, the Ministry of Justice, the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Department of Maternal and Child Health Services, the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Education Bureau of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Immigration Department of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Department of Justice of Hogn Kong Special Administrative Region, the Law Reform and International Law Bureau of Macao Special Administrative Region, the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau of Macao Special Administrative Region, the Public Security Police Force of Macao Special Administrative Region, and the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the Office of the United Nations at Geneva and other International Organizations in Switzerland.

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