TUNISIA: Child Rights References in the Universal Periodic Review (Second Cycle)

Summary: A compilation of extracts featuring child-rights issues from the reports submitted to the second Universal Periodic Review. There are extracts from the 'National Report', the 'Compilation of UN Information' and the 'Summary of Stakeholders' Information'. Also included is the list of accepted and rejected recommendations.

Tunisia – 2nd Session – 2012
Tuesday 22 May 2012 - 9.00 a.m. - 12.30 p.m.

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National Report
Compilation of UN information
Summary of Stakeholders' information
Accepted and rejected recommendations

(Read about the first review cycle)

National Report

16. In its concluding observations on Tunisia (11 June 2010), following review of the third periodic report, the Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed satisfaction at “the withdrawal by the State Party of its declaration and of reservations to article 2 of the Convention relating to personal status…..and article 7 relating to nationality” (law no. 36/2008 (9 June 2008) and ordinance no. 2503/2008 (7 July 2008)).

18. Since the review of its first report in the universal periodic review process, Tunisia has submitted a number of reports in line with its commitments under the following international conventions and protocols:

• The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (January 2009);

• The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (February 2009);

• The Convention on the Rights of the Child (June 2010);

• The Convention on All Forms of Discrimination against Women (October 2010);

• The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (April 2011).

69.The new law brought about essential changes to the crime of torture, consisting basically of the following points:

• More severe penalties for torturing children, with the penalty raised from eight to 10 years imprisonment and raised to 16 years, if the torture resulted in the amputation or fracture of a limb or permanent disability;

• Extension of the period of statutory limitation from 10 to 15 years (consideration is being given to making torture a crime to which no statutory limitation shall apply) and adoption of a special system of statutory limitation, if the victim is a child, by suspending the period of limitation calculated from the date of reaching the age of majority.

79. Anxious to guarantee special protection for pregnant women and nursing mothers in prison, the legislature promulgated law 58/2008 (4 August 2008), relating to pregnant women and nursing mothers in prison, which stipulates the following measures:

• Pregnant women and nursing mothers in prison are to be consigned to a special place with medical, psychological and social care for mother and child available;

• The space allocated to imprisoned pregnant women and nursing mothers is to be guarded by female guards in civilian clothes;

• During their imprisonment, mothers shall be accompanied by their children up to the age of one year; the same shall apply to children born in prison. This period may be extended for not more than a further year by decision of the family judge, taking the child’s best interests into account.

110. Pursuant to law no. 55/2010 (1 December 2010), amending certain provisions of the Tunisian Nationality Act, Tunisia lifted all forms of discrimination between mother and father in respect of granting Tunisian nationality to children, thus enabling a Tunisian mother to pass on her nationality to her children, the same as a father.

114. In its concluding observations adopted on 11 June 2010 after reviewing Tunisia’s third periodic report, the Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed its satisfaction with the measures taken to implement the rights contained in the convention.

115. In the same context, the committee stated that it was occupied with several issues, chief among them being recommendations designed to strengthen the legal framework and policies to promote and protect the rights of the child.

116. The ministries concerned with assisting specialist NGOs and other elements of civil society are endeavouring to take steps to formulate the appropriate mechanisms to enable legislation and policies to protect children in all spheres to be developed and fostered.

122. Organizations and associations active in civil society have submitted numerous recommendations, of which the most important are:

• Formulate a constitution guaranteeing respect for human rights, the supremacy of international law over domestic law and providing for the creation of a constitutional court;

• Reform the security agencies responsible for enforcing the law and establish clear rules regarding the use of force;

• Create a national mechanism to prevent torture and other types of abuse, with the stipulation that no statutory limitation shall apply to the crime of torture;

• Upgrade the prison system in line with international standards;

• Ensure the independence of the judiciary from the executive authority and revise the basic law regulating the judicial system in line with international standards;

• End the trial of civilians by military courts;

• Ensure the independent and neutral investigation of human rights abuses committed in the era of the former regime;

• Ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

• Ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;

• Support all regions, particularly remote and border regions, with basic infrastructure, such as roads, clean drinking water, electric lighting, housing and by bringing essential services, such as education and health, close to citizens;

• Support positive discrimination in favour of persons with special needs, the poorest sections of society, the elderly and rural and divorced women in the economic, social and health spheres;

• Affirm the right to work in the constitution and institute unemployment benefit for those out of work;

• Encourage the creation of social service associations and establish funds to care for street children and adolescents;

• Oppose the economic exploitation of children;

• Create university hospitals in the interior regions, staffed with specialist physicians and equipped with modern equipment;

• Create a higher council for education and scientific research to ensure the neutrality of education and its independence from political inducements and carry out a thorough educational reform to bring the education sector up to global standards;

• Affirm the principle of gender equality and fairness in all spheres and create mechanisms in the constitution to ensure that women share political and social responsibility;

• Guarantee freedom of expression, creativity and academic freedoms;

• Introduce digital services and facilitate access thereto for all groups, particularly disabled persons.


Compilation of UN Information

10. CRC recommended that a special unit for children be set up within the High Committee on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

12. In the context of the transition period the country is currently going through, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) joined various stakeholders in expressing concern at the absence of children’s rights from public debate in recent months.

17. CRC called upon Tunisia to promptly submit its initial report under the OP-CRC-SC and an updated core document.

21. CEDAW remained concerned about the persistence of discrimination against women with regard to personal status, in particular concerning marriage, child custody and guardianship, as well as inheritance. UNHCR reported that the 2010 reform of the Nationality Code allowed Tunisian women to transfer nationality to their children, even if the father was not Tunisian and regardless of their location inside or outside the country, thus eliminating discrimination against women as regards conferral of nationality to their children. UNHCR recommended that Tunisia consider amending article 16 of the Nationality Code in order to introduce a safeguard against statelessness in case of annulment of marriage.

22. CEDAW was concerned that disadvantaged groups of women and girls often suffered from multiple forms of discrimination, especially with regard to access to education, employment and health care, protection from violence and access to justice. CRC had expressed similar concerns.

33. The OHCHR AM recommended that Tunisia address the dire situation in prisons by adopting a new penitentiary policy that assures humane conditions, and that it pay particular attention to the rehabilitation and social reinsertion of detainees. The Special Rapporteur on the question of torture recommended that the Government strengthen its efforts to improve detention conditions with a view to ensuring the separation of minors from adults and of pretrial prisoners from convicts, introduce independent and effective complaints mechanisms within all places of detention, and ensure that all detainees have unimpeded and unsupervised access to the enforcement judge upon request.

35. CEDAW remained concerned at the high prevalence of violence against women and girls and regretted the absence of a law on violence against women, including domestic violence and marital rape. CEDAW remained concerned at allegations of harassment against women wearing the hijab (veil) in public.

38. UNICEF and CRPD noted the amendment of the Penal Code in 2010, which prohibited all forms of violence against children, regardless of who the perpetrator — including parents or tutors — might be. CRC recommended that Tunisia take all necessary measures in order to address and prevent violence against and abuse of children.

39. UNICEF highlighted the persistence of certain attitudes affecting child protection, including the tolerance of practices such as corporal punishment as a means of reprimanding or punishing a child and the employment of underage children.

40. On the subject of domestic violence, UNICEF referred to the results of the 2006 multiple indicator cluster survey (MICS 3), which showed that 94 per cent of children aged between 2 and 14 were subjected to various forms of verbal, physical and psychological abuse. Almost three quarters (73 per cent) were beaten, 26 per cent were verbally abused and 30 per cent were deprived of a right, virtually regardless of their backgrounds or regions. According to the survey on violence in schools, 58.2 per cent of students stated that they had been the victims of all sorts of violence; 3.3 per cent stated that they had been the victims of sexual violence and 11.5 per cent complained of parental negligence, which they viewed as a form of violence. Furthermore, in 2011, there had been reports of acts of violence perpetrated against children participating in protest movements (such as demonstrations and riots).

41. CRC reiterated its previous recommendations that Tunisia take all necessary measures to effectively prevent and combat child labour. It also recommended that Tunisia undertake a systematic assessment of the situation of children in street situations. CEDAW recommended that Tunisia increase the number of Labour Inspectorates to ensure that under-age children are not exploited.

50. UNICEF noted that no special treatment was provided for children at the time of their arrest, in accordance with the rights of the child. A number of children continued to be incarcerated with adults.

51. CRC was concerned at the failure of Tunisia to monitor the quality of the juvenile justice system, and at the high rate of recidivism of child offenders, especially girls.

52. CRC was concerned at the high rate of children born out of wedlock who were placed in institutions due to the social stigmatization and discrimination faced by single mothers. It recommended that Tunisia ensure that placement in foster care or in an institution was used only as a measure of last resort.

64. The OHCHR AM reported that, for decades, a combination of factors had resulted in striking economic and social disparities and denial of basic economic and social rights for very large sectors of the population. It recommended that Tunisia take immediate steps to redress disparities in standards of living and access to and quality of health, education, employment and social support structures for women, children, youth and marginalized communities across the country.

68. UNICEF reported that, despite a visible improvement in the health indicators for mothers and infants, neonatal mortality at present accounted for most cases of child and infant mortality (two thirds), subject to certain regional and social disparities.

69. CRC recommended that Tunisia ensure that adolescents be provided with gender-sensitive information on sexual and reproductive health, including on family planning and contraceptives. It also recommended that Tunisia provide children with accurate and objective information about substance use, including tobacco use.

73. CRPD was concerned that many integrated schools were not equipped to receive children with

75. CRPD recommended that Tunisia include an explicit prohibition of disability-based discrimination in an anti-discrimination law. It further recommended that Tunisia, in consultation with persons with disabilities, undertake a review of the implementation of laws on accessibility. UNICEF stated that the country was urged to guarantee protection and equal access to children with disabilities.


Summary of Stakeholders' Information

18. AI and JS2 stated that the Personal Status Code still contained discriminatory provisions against women, especially relating to inheritance and child custody.

24. Alkarama reported that, until 14 January 2011, torture had still been practised regularly with complete impunity. Neither the executive nor the judiciary had taken any real steps to reverse the trend by prosecuting those responsible. AI stated that it continued to receive reports of torture and other ill-treatment, though not as widespread as in the past. Alkarama said that most of the cases reported after 14 January concerned detainees in certain prisons (Gabès, Borj Erroumi and Mornaguia), who had been the victims of a campaign of abuse conducted by the prison administration, while others concerned demonstrators and, in a few rare instances, ordinary prisoners. OCTT added that even children had been tortured.

29. The Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children (GIEACPC) reported that Tunisia had achieved law reform in July 2010 to prohibit all corporal punishment of children and making it a criminal offence to assault a child even lightly. GIEACPC hoped that the Human Rights Council would congratulate Tunisia on this achievement and recommended that Tunisia supports the law change with public awareness raising and professional education on the law as well as a range of other measures to support its implementation.

43. JS2 made a recommendation relating to juvenile justice as to guarantee the rights of child offenders, including in the correctional facilities as well as those of the victims.

63. JS1 referred to the unemployment rate — affecting more women, youth and college educated people — the lack of adequate unemployment benefits and to some aspects of the labour regulations. JS1 notably recommended that Tunisia ensure that tackling unemployment remained a priority; enable a national dialogue on the institutional response to inequities in the labor market; and overcome persistent gender inequality.

70. The Collectif tunisien pour la promotion des droits des personnes en situation de handicap (CTPDPSH) (Tunisian Grouping to promote the rights of persons with disabilities) drew attention to the fact that, although Tunisia had adopted measures to encourage the integration of persons with disabilities, even before ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, these measures were little applied in practice. CTPDPSH also described some of the obstacles encountered by persons with disabilities when trying to gain access to buildings, public areas and means of transport, despite existing legislation; difficulties in integrating children with disabilities in the ordinary school system, and the failure to include the notion of “reasonable accommodation” in the 2005 decree on the employment of persons with disabilities.

72. The World Amazigh Congress (CMA) reported that Tunisia’s official position was that Amazighs no longer existed and that the Amazigh language was a local Arabic dialect. CMA further stated that the Constitution, the Tunisian National Pact and the Child Protection Code denied the existence of an Amazigh people and culture. For example, CMA pointed out that there was no education in the Amazigh language in State schools, that Amazigh first names were banned and that no information in the Amazigh language was provided in the public press and audio-visual media in Tunisia.


Accepted and Rejected Recommendations

The following recommendations were accepted by Tunisia:

A - 114.1. Put in place a comprehensive strategy to eliminate patriarchal attitudes and negative stereotypes of women in the Tunisian society as well as eliminate discrimination against women that still exists in the national legislation, in particular concerning marriage, child custody, guardianship, as well as effective and equal access to justice (Poland); Put in place a broad strategy to eliminate patriarchal attitudes and stereotypes that discriminate against women in conformity with Articles 2 (f) and 5 (a) of CEDAW (Uruguay);

A - 114.2. Introduce a comprehensive strategy to eliminate patriarchal attitudes and stereotypes that discriminate against women, protect media pluralism and guarantee freedom of speech and access to information and education (Thailand);

A - 114.8. Take all necessary measures in order to eliminate violence against women and children, including through consolidation of the legal system with respect to human trafficking counter-measures. (Japan);

A - 114.14. Give due consideration to resolve the issue of discrimination against women with regard to personal legal status, in particular marriage, child custody and guardianship (Kyrgyzstan);

A - 114.16. Adopt measures to align national legislation and practices with the provisions of the CRC, particularly those of article 37 (c), and sign and ratify the Third Optional Protocol to the CRC (Portugal); Consider early ratification of the Third Optional Protocol to the CRC on a communication procedure (Slovakia); Sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communication procedure (Slovenia); Sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on Communication Procedure (Maldives);

A - 114.17. Take measures and develop appropriate mechanisms to enable the development of legislation and policies for the protection of children in all fields (Oman);

A - 114.18. Continue its efforts to improve the situation of children in different aspects (Palestine);

A - 114.19. Enhance measures on public awareness-raising and professional education to support the implementation of the law of 2010 amending article 319 of the Penal Code to remove the clause which provided a legal defence for the use of corporal punishment in child rearing (Indonesia);

A - 114.20. Follow up efforts to strengthen the legal framework and policies designed to promote and protect child rights (Jordan);

A - 114.21. Continue its efforts in strengthening the education system and the legal framework to protect the rights of children in accordance with its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Singapore);

A - 114.24. Adopt and implement appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities, particularly women and girls, have access to an inclusive education system, and that they can participate effectively and fully in political and public life on an equal basis with others (Portugal);

A - 114.84. Continue to promote economic and social development, and to improve educational and medical infrastructure, so that the people can equally enjoy the benefits of development (China);

A - 114.85. Continue to pursue current policies to ensure the enjoyment of all human rights by all Tunisians, particularly with regard to health and education (Cuba);

The following recommendations were left pending:

P - 116.2. Continue to combat all forms of discrimination still faced by women, notably those remaining in the Personal Statute Law in the areas of inheritance and child custody (Belgium);

P - 116.4. Remove the remaining reservation to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and align its national legislation, including the Civil Code, with this Convention to give women equal rights in matters of inheritance and guardianship of children (Norway);

No recommendations were rejceted by Tunisia




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