GUINEA-BISSAU: Children's Rights in UN Treaty Body Reports

Summary: This report extracts mentions of children's rights issues in the reports of all UN Treaty Bodies and their follow-up procedures. This does not include the Concluding Observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child which are available here:

Please note that the language may have been edited in places for the purpose of clarity.

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UN Human Rights Committee


UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights


UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination


UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women


Last Reported: 3 August 2009

Concerns Raised

  • Poverty: The Committee recognises the economic, social and political obstacles stemming from periods of conflict and political and institutional instability in the State party, as well as its precarious situation of extreme poverty, which have had a negative impact on the entire population, in particular on women and girls, and constitute serious obstacles to the full implementation of the Convention.

    The Committee encourages the State party to:

    (a) Continue to seek support from the international community, the United Nations system and donor organisations as necessary and appropriate in order to build the capacity necessary to allow it to strengthen the rule of law and fully implement its obligations under the Convention.

    (b) Work with its development partners to ensure that attention to gender equality is mainstreamed in all assistance received, including in official development assistance. (Paragraphs 15 and 16)

  • Harmful Practices: The Committee is deeply concerned about the persistence of harmful traditional practices, patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted stereotypes regarding the roles, responsibilities and identities of women and men in all spheres of life. The Committee expresses concern that such norms, customs and practices justify and perpetuate discrimination against women, including violence against women and the persistence of harmful traditional practices, such as food taboos, early and forced marriage, and levirate marriage. It regrets that no sustained and systematic action has been taken by the State party to modify or eliminate such harmful traditional practices, patriarchal attitudes and stereotypes.

    The Committee urges the State party to:

    (a) Put in place, without delay, a comprehensive strategy, including clear goals and timetables, to modify or eliminate cultural practices and stereotypes that are harmful to, and discriminate against, women and to promote women's full enjoyment of their human rights in conformity with articles 2 (f) and 5 (a) of the Convention. This strategy should include specifically designed educational and awareness-raising programmes targeting women and men at all levels of society, including Government officials and traditional and community leaders, and should be aimed at creating an enabling environment for the transformation and change of stereotypes and discriminatory cultural values, attitudes and practices. (Paragraphs 23 and 24)

  • Trafficking: While welcoming the steps taken by the State party to combat trafficking in persons, including bilateral agreements with neighbouring countries aimed at coordinating efforts to combat trafficking in persons, and noting that draft legislation on trafficking in children has been submitted for consideration by the National People's Assembly, the Committee is concerned about the lack of clarity on the extent of trafficking in women and girls in Guinea-Bissau, and about the limited scope of the Government's efforts to combat trafficking in women, as its anti-trafficking efforts are currently focused on children.

    The Committee urges the State party to:

    (a) Incorporate into the draft legislation aimed at trafficking in persons, a definition of trafficking in line with article 3 (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.

    (b) Undertake an assessment of the extent of trafficking in women and girls in Guinea-Bissau, both internally and across borders, and to begin to systematically collect data in this regard with a view to designing and implementing a comprehensive plan to prevent and combat trafficking that would include the provision of assistance and support to women victims.

    (c) Address the root causes of trafficking and to improve the economic situation of women so as to eliminate their vulnerability to exploitation and trafficking. (Paragraphs 29 and 30)

  • Education: The Committee is extremely concerned about the alarmingly high rates of illiteracy in Guinea-Bissau, about the very low rates of girls' school enrolment and completion of schooling at all levels, and about the persistence of structural and other barriers to quality education, which constitute particular obstacles to the education of girls and young women. These barriers include extreme poverty, a lack of physical infrastructure and a lack of trained and qualified teachers, especially female teachers, which may increase girls' vulnerability to violence and abuse in schools. In particular, the Committee is concerned about cultural barriers to education and the negative impact of harmful traditional practices, such as early and forced marriage, on girls' education.

    The Committee recommends that the State party:

    (a) Take immediate steps to implement measures to ensure equal access for girls and women to all levels of education and retention of girls in school, including through temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee's general recommendation No. 25.

    (b) Increase its investment in education, especially in rural areas, and to raise awareness of the importance of education as a human right and as a basis for the empowerment of women.

    (c) Take steps to overcome traditional attitudes that constitute obstacles to girls' and women's education, to develop non-stereotyped educational curricula that address structural causes of discrimination against women, to provide adequate and gender-sensitive training for teachers and school personnel, and to ensure that women and girls have access to safe educational settings that are free from violence and abuse.
    (d) Make a concerted effort to improve the literacy level of girls and women through the adoption of comprehensive programmes at the formal and non-formal levels, and through adult education and training. (Paragraphs 33 and 34)

  • Family relations: The Committee is deeply concerned about the prevalence of harmful traditional practices under customary law in Guinea-Bissau, including early and forced marriage, polygamy and levirate marriage, which violate the human rights of women and girls.

    The Committee urges the State party to:

    (a) Explicitly repeal all discriminatory provisions in national legislation and customary law in the areas of marriage and family relations as a matter of priority.

    (b) Take appropriate measures to eradicate harmful traditional practices and those customs and traditions that justify and perpetuate them. (Paragraphs 41 and 42)


UN Committee against Torture


UN Committee on Migrant Workers


UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


UN Committee on Enforced Disappearance



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