GUINEA-BISSAU: National Laws

Summary: General overview of Guinea-Bissau's national legal provisions on children's rights, including guidance on how to conduct further research.

National laws on children’s rights

Status of the CRC in national law
Ratified international human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, form part of the national law in Guinnea-Bissau.  As such, the Convention may in principle be cited and enforced in national courts, although CRIN is not aware of any instances in which this has happened.

Constitution: Part II of the Constitution of Guinea-Bissau provides for a number of rights that apply to children as to adults, and a small number of provisions that directly address the rights of children can also be found throughout the Constitution:

  • Art. 5(2)(c): creates a duty for the State to “assist the parents, children, and widows of the fighters for the freedom of the Homeland”
  • Art. 25(2): provides for the equality of children before the law, regardless of the marital status of their parents
  • Art. 40: creates a right to societal and State protection for children, youth and mothers

Legislation: There is no consolidated or comprehensive Children's Act in national law; rather, legislation of particular relevance to children can be found in a number of national Laws and Decrees, as well as in customary law. Relevant legislation includes, but is by no means limited to:

  • The Law on Children's and Women's Protection 1997
  • The Penal Code
  • The Civil Code
  • The Code of Penal Procedure
  • Law No. 2/86, the General Labour Law
  • Law No. 4/76, including provisions on discrimination
  • Law No. 1/76, on Guinean nationality
  • Law No. 6/76, on marriage
  • Decree No. 484/71, on jurisdictional assistance to minors

Legal Research
The National Assembly of Guinea-Bissau (Guiné-Bissau Assembleia Nacional Popular) maintains an official website which provides the text of legislation in Portuguese (, as does the International Labour Organisation's NATLEX database ( The World Intellectual Property Organisation offers the Constitution in Portuguese as well as with an automatic translation tool ( In addition, the U.S. Law Library of Congress ( and the World Legal Information Institute ( have assembled a selection of relevant legal and governmental resources.

Case Law Research
CRC Jurisprudence
Please contact CRIN if you are aware of any cases in national law that reference the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Case Law Research
The Guinea-Bissau Supreme Court of Justice (Supremo Tribunal de Justica) provides a range of case law resources in Portuguese, including summaries of judgements (

Compliance with the CRC
In its 2002 Concluding Observations, the Committee on the Rights of the Child noted an absence of specific legislation on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as that reviews as to the compliance of penal, family and labour legislation had not produced concrete results. The Committee noted with concern that customary law, which was applied more often than national legislation, contained many inconsistencies with the Convention, particularly with regards to women, girls and family law.

In depth analysis
The Committee also raised a number of more specific concerns with regards to national law, perhaps the most basic of which related to the definition of a child for the purposes of marriage and entry into the armed forces. The Committee expressed serious concern at the young age at which girls were permitted to marry (14 years) as well as the disparity between that age and the age at which boys could marry (16 years). Furthermore, the Committee expressed concern that boys under the age of 16 could be recruited into the armed forces with the permission of their parents. As such, the Committee urged the State to amend its legislation so as to harmonise the relevant ages with the standards set by the Convention and to eliminate discrimination based on the sex of the child. The State has reported that it has enacted legislation amending the law in this regard, but the Committee has not yet reviewed the amended legislation.

Discrimination within national law was a general feature of the Committee's recommendations, especially with regards to the limited prohibition on discrimination within the national constitution and the lack of legislation to prevent discrimination against children with disabilities. The Committee also expressed concern that the rights of girls were generally not respected in customary law.

With regards to the juvenile justice system, the Committee raised a number of serious concerns about the failure of domestic law to sufficiently protect children. Specifically, the Committee noted that “the judicial system lacks courts and trained staff to deal with juveniles in conflict with the law” and urged the State to adopt legislation to provide for a specialised juvenile justice system, to reform practices to ensure that children are only detained as a measure of last resort, and to ensure that children are not detained with adults.

Current legal reform projects
Please contact CRIN if you are aware of any current legal reform projects in Guinea-Bissau.


Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.