Recommendation 1666 (2004)1
Europe-wide ban on corporal punishment of children
1. The Parliamentary Assembly
notes that, according to the European Committee of Social Rights, in order
to comply with the European Social Charter and the Revised European Social
Charter, member states must ban all forms of corporal punishment and any other
forms of degrading punishment or treatment of children. Five
member states fail to meet these requirements because they have not effectively
prohibited all forms of corporal punishment. A collective complaints procedure
has been lodged against five other member states on the same grounds.
2. The Assembly also notes that the European Court of Human Rights has found
in successive judgments that corporal punishment violates childrens rights
as guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights. These decisions
applied initially to corporal punishment in young offenders institutions,
then in schools, including private schools, and most recently within the family.
Moreover, both the European Commission of Human Rights until 1998 and the Court
have emphasised that banning all corporal punishment does not breach the right
to private or family life or religious freedom.
3. The Assembly observes that
all member states have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights
of the Child, which requires them to protect children from all forms of physical
or mental violence by adults while in their care.
The Committee on the Rights of the
Child, which monitors compliance with the Convention, has consistently interpreted
the latter as requiring member states both to prohibit all forms of corporal
punishment of children and to educate and inform the public on the subject.
4. The Assembly welcomes the current global initiative to end all corporal
punishment of children and wishes to add its support to that already given
by Unicef, Unesco, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the
Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, the European Network
of Ombudsmen for Children (ENOC) and numerous national and international human
rights institutions and non-governmental organisations across Europe.
5. The Assembly considers that any corporal punishment of children is in breach
of their fundamental right to human dignity and physical integrity. The fact
that such corporal punishment is still lawful in certain member states violates
their equally fundamental right to the same legal protection as adults.
Striking a human being is prohibited
in European society and children are human beings. The
social and legal acceptance of corporal punishment of children must be ended.
6. The Assembly is concerned
to note that, so far, only a minority of the forty-five member states has formally
prohibited corporal punishment in the family and in all other contexts. While
they have all banned corporal punishment in schools, including private schools
and other educational institutions, this does not necessarily extend to residential
and all other forms of childcare.
Nor are such bans systematically
and universally respected.
7. The Assembly therefore invites
the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers to launch a co-ordinated and
concerted campaign in all the member states for the total abolition of corporal
punishment of children.
The Assembly notes the success of the Council
of Europe in abolishing the death penalty and the Assembly now calls on the
Organisation to work in the same way to make Europe, as soon as possible, a
corporal punishment-free zone for children.
8. It invites the Committee of Ministers and the other Council of Europe bodies
concerned, as a matter of urgency, to establish strategies, including technical
assistance, for achieving this objective in conjunction with member states,
and in particular to:
i. heighten the awareness
of children, those who live and work with them and the general public of
the total ban on corporal punishment and other forms of humiliating, inhuman
and degrading treatment of children;
ii. ensure general awareness
of childrens fundamental rights, in particular their right to human
dignity and physical integrity;
iii. encourage positive,
non-violent forms of child-rearing and conflict resolution among future and
existing parents, all other people who care for children as well as the public
iv. offer children and young
people the opportunity to express their views and be involved in planning
and implementing activities to eradicate corporal punishment;
v. make sure that parents,
particularly those experiencing difficulties with child-rearing, are offered
the necessary advice and support;
offer children confidential
advice, counselling and legal representation so that they can respond to
violence against them;
vii. guarantee effective
and appropriate protection to children who are particularly vulnerable to
harmful and humiliating punishment, such as disabled children and children
in institutions or detention facilities;
ensure that corporal punishment
and other harmful and humiliating forms of discipline inflicted on children
are included in the definition of domestic or family violence and that strategies
to combat the violent punishment of children form an integral part of strategies
against domestic or family violence.
9. Finally, the Assembly invites
the Committee of Ministers to recommend that the member states:
i. enact appropriate legislation
prohibiting the corporal punishment of children, particularly within the
ii. monitor the effectiveness
of abolition through regular research into childrens experience of
violence at home, in school and elsewhere, the effectiveness of child protection
services and parents experience of and attitudes to violence against
iii. ensure that the relevant
judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and the conclusions of the
European Committee of Social Rights are fully applied.
debate on 23 June 2004
(21st Sitting) (see Doc.10199,
report of the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee, rapporteur:
Text adopted by the Assembly on 23 June 2004 (21st Sitting).