TUNISIA: Children's Rights in UN Treaty Body Reports

Summary: This report extracts mentions of children's rights issues in the Concluding Observations 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: http://www.crin.org/resources/treaties/index.asp

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

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UN Human Rights Committee

March/ April 2008

The Committee welcomes the government's intention to remove its reservations to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, in particular with respect to the application of articles 23 [rights of children with disabilities] and 24 [right to health]. (paragraph 7)


UN Human Rights Committee: follow-up

March 2008

No mentions of children's rights


UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Last reported: 6 and 7 May 1999
Concluding Observations adopted: 14 May 1999

Concerns raised:

  • Disparities in living standards: indicators on education, child mortality, access to piped water and healthcare are much worse in the north-west of the country than in the north-east. Discrepancies also exist between the interior of the country and the south, and between towns and rural areas. (paragraph 16)
  • Education: The Committee notes that illiteracy still affects one third of the population. 42 per cent of women and 23 per cent of men, and that serious disparities continue to exist between the literacy rates of boys and girls at all age levels and between urban and rural areas. It also notes the serious problem of school drop-out, and especially that half of those enrolled in primary schools do not continue with secondary education. In this regard, the Committee is concerned about students who drop out at the end of the first cycle of basic education, of whom, according to the delegation 90 per cent had "exhausted their right to retake courses". The Committee is also concerned about the discrepancy between the age fixed in law for the completion of mandatory education, which is 16 years, and the minimum age for employment, which is 15 years for the manufacturing sector and 13 years for the agricultural sector. This discrepancy might encourage adolescents to drop out of secondary school. (paragraph 17)                                 
  • Right to human rights education: The Committee is concerned about the manner in which knowledge of human rights is currently being imparted in Tunisian schools. It is also seriously concerned that the police presence on university campuses may infringe on the freedoms necessary for academic and cultural expression, which the State party is obliged to respect under article 15. (paragraph 18)
  • Property: The Committee is concerned that, despite the efforts of the State party, inequalities between men and women continue to persist, including with regard to access to positions of responsibility and to remuneration. It is particularly concerned that, according to the laws on inheritance, females are entitled to receive only half of the inheritance of males. While the State party believes that domestic violence in Tunisia is rare, the Committee is concerned about the scarcity of official data on this phenomenon. There are discrepancies between the rights of men, women and children of both sexes to enjoy the right to inherit. (paragraph 13)

     The Committee strongly recommends that all men, women and children of both sexes should be enabled to enjoy the right to inherit on a basis of equality. (paragraph 21)


UN Committee against Torture

November 1998

No specific mentions of children.


UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Last reported: 7 October 2010
Concluding Observations adopted: 22 October 2010


Concerns raised:

  • Trafficking: The Committee notes that a draft law and national plan of action on human trafficking is under consideration, but expresses concern at the lack of clear understanding of the concept of trafficking in human beings, which impedes the ability of the State to address the problem. It also notes the lack of information on the content of the draft law, the lack of disaggregated data on the prevalence of trafficking, and the lack of information provided on the prosecution and punishment of trafficking and on measures of protection for women at risk of trafficking. (paragraph 32)

The State should:

  • Expedite the adoption of the draft bill on all forms of trafficking and ensure that the new law allows prosecution and punishment of perpetrators, effective protection of victims and adequate redress, in line with the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and article 6 of the Convention;
  • Conduct research on the root causes of trafficking and enhance bilateral and multilateral cooperation with neighbouring countries to prevent trafficking and bring perpetrators to justice;
  • Provide information and training on the anti-trafficking legislation to the judiciary, law enforcement officials, border guards, social workers and service providers in all parts of the country;
  • Conduct comparative studies on trafficking and prostitution and address their root causes in order to eliminate the vulnerability of girls and women to sexual exploitation and traffickers and undertake efforts for the recovery and social integration of the victims;
  • Study the Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking (E/2002/68/Add.1) and to implement them while combating trafficking in human beings. (paragraph 33)
  • Childcare: The Committee welcomes the introduction of Act No. 2006-58 which allows mothers of young children or children with disabilities to work part-time at two-thirds pay while retaining full rights to advancement, promotion, holiday, retirement and social coverage. However it expresses concern that these provisions are not available to fathers and that the scarcity of childcare services and the progressive withdrawal of the public sector as a service provider may contribute to the exclusion of poor families and those living in rural areas from these services. (paragraph 44)

    The Committee encourages the State to step up its efforts to assist women and men in striking a balance between family and employment responsibilities through further awareness-raising and education initiatives for both women and men on adequate sharing of care of children and domestic tasks, as well as by providing men with the possibility, and incentives, to take up part-time employment. The Committee also urges the State to step up its efforts to improve the availability, affordability and quality of care places for school-age children in order to facilitate the entry and re-entry of women into the labour market. (paragraph 45)

  • Child domestic workers: The Committee welcomes the positive legislative measures aimed at aligning the minimum age of employment with international standards and instituting a social security regime for domestic workers. However, it expresses concern at the lack of data, which constitutes an impediment to the ability of the State to properly address the phenomenon. The Committee highlights the findings of a survey conducted by a women's association in 2008 showing, among other things, that 17.5 per cent of domestic workers were between 12 and 17 years old. (paragraph 48)

    The Committee recommends that the State increase the number of Labour Inspectorates to ensure, among other things, that under-age children are not exploited and that adequate working and living conditions are provided. (paragraph 49)

  • Single mothers: In line with its previous concluding observations (A/57/38, para. 204), the Committee expresses concern about the precarious situation of single women with children born out of wedlock who continue to face discrimination and social stigmatisation. (paragraph 54)

    Further to the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC/C/TUN/CO/3, paras. 26 and 44), the Committee encourages the State to take all possible measures to eliminate discrimination and social stigmatisation against single mothers, including through the provision of appropriate psychosocial and financial assistance and the conduct of awareness-raising campaigns. (paragraph 55)

  • Disadvantaged girls: The Committee expresses concern at the very limited information and statistics provided on disadvantaged groups of women and girls, including girls living on the streets, and that those groups often suffer from multiple forms of discrimination, especially with regard to access to education, employment and health care, protection from violence and access to justice. (paragraph 56)

    The Committee requests that the State provide, in its next report, a comprehensive picture of the de facto situation of disadvantaged groups of women and girls in all areas covered by the Convention and information on specific programmes and achievements. (paragraph 57)

  • Transmission of nationality: The Committee expresses continued concern that the Nationality Code does not provide women with the same rights as men to acquire or transmit their Tunisian nationality, in particular, that children born in Tunisia automatically acquire Tunisian nationality through male ascendants, but not through female ascendants. It is also concerned that the children of Tunisian women married to foreigners are still encountering obstacles in acquiring Tunisian nationality. (paragraph 58)

    The Committee requests that the State expedite the adoption of the draft bill amending article 6 of the Nationality Code and continue harmonising its Nationality Code with article 9 of the Convention. It also recommends that the State withdraw its reservation concerning article 9, paragraph 2. (paragraph 59)

  • Marriage and family relations: The Committee commends the State for recent legislative amendments to the Code of Personal Status with regard to the age of marriage and the possibility for a Tunisian woman to transmit her nationality to her child under certain circumstances, but remains concerned about the persistence of discrimination in a number of areas including child custody and guardianship. The Committee expresses concern that despite considerable efforts made to ensure equality of spouses during marriage and on its dissolution, the husband remains the head of the household, and is therefore entitled to choose the couple's domicile and to transmit his name and his nationality to the child. The Committee is also concerned that mothers do not share parental responsibility on an equal footing with men and that they do not enjoy full guardianship rights. (paragraph 60)

    The Committee calls upon the State to ensure equality between women and men in marriage and family relations and to withdraw its reservations to article 16. It urges the State to amend without delay all remaining discriminatory provisions and administrative regulations, including provisions or regulations relating to custody and legal guardianship of children. (paragraph 61)


UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

February/ March 2010

The Committee notes that the Amazigh (the Berber – indigenous non-Arab population of North Africa) are prevented from preserving and expressing their cultural and linguistic identity. The Committee's recommendations include that the State party should take measures in the field of education to promote knowledge of the history, language and culture of the Amazigh. (paragraph 18)


UN Committee on Migrant Workers


UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


Reported: 11-15 April 2011
Concluding Observations issued: 29 April 2011

Concerns rasied:

  • General principles and obligations: [The Committee] is concerned at the risk of exclusion of persons who should be protected by the Convention, in particular persons with psychosocial disabilities ("mental illness") or intellectual disabilities, or others not able to obtain a disability card, either due to disability or by association with a disability.
    The Committee invites the State party to review the definition of disability and reformulate it based on the Convention.

    In accordance with Article 4(3) of the Convention, the Committee recommends the State party to encourage and support the creation, capacity-building and effective participation of representative organisations or groups of persons with disabilities and parents of persons with disabilities at the local and national levels in the process of the conception and design, reform, and implementation of policies and programmes. In particular to ensure that in the drafting of the new Constitution, persons with disabilities are consulted and actively involved, including as members of the Constitutional Council that will draft the new Constitution

    The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to further facilitate the full participation of women, men, girls and boys with disabilities and their families in society. (paras 8-11)

  • Children with disabilities (art. 7): The Committee is particularly concerned at the low rate of reporting ("signalement") of cases of habitual mistreatment of children, including children with disabilities, which may amount to situations of danger, in view of the results of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 2006) which revealed that 94 per cent of children aged between two and 14 years are disciplined in the home through violent means, whether verbal, physical, or through deprivation. The Committee recommends that the State party:

    (a) Evaluate the phenomenon of violence against boys and girls with disabilities and compile systematic disaggregated data (see paragraph 39) with a view to better combating it;
    (b) Ensure that institutions providing care for children with disabilities are staffed with specially trained personnel, subject to appropriate standards, are regularly monitored and evaluated, and accept complaint procedures accessible to children with disabilities;
    (c) Establish independent follow-up mechanisms; and
    (d) Take steps to replace institutional care for boys and girls with disabilities with community-based care.

    (paras 16 and 17)

  • Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse (art.16): The Committee expresses its concern with the situation of violence that women and children with disabilities might face.

    The Committee encourages the state party to include women and girls with disabilities in the National strategy for the prevention of violence in the family and society, and to adopt comprehensive measures for them to have access to immediate measures of protection, to shelter and to legal aid. It requests the State party to promote awareness campaigns and to develop educational programmes on the greater vulnerability of women and girls with disabilities with respect to violence and abuse. (paras 26 and 27)

  • Education (art.24): The Committee takes note of the national programme of inclusive education of children with disabilities. However, it notes with deep concern that, in practice, the inclusion strategy is not equally implemented in schools; that rules relating to the number of children in mainstream schools and to the management of inclusive classes are commonly breached; and that schools are not equitably distributed between regions of the same governorate.

    The Committee is equally concerned that many integrated schools are not equipped to receive children with disabilities, and that the training of teachers and administrators in relation to disabilities remains a concern in the State Party.

    The Committee recommends that the State party:

    (a) Take measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise the right to freedom of expression and opinion on an equal basis with others and, in this regard, provide information intended for the general public in accessible formats and - especially with respect to the deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind - recognise and promote the use of sign language;
    (b) Increase its efforts to enforce inclusive education throughout all schools for all girls and boys with disabilities;
    (c) Intensify training for education personnel, including teachers and administrators;
    (d) Allocate sufficient financial and human resources to implement the National programme of inclusive education of children with disabilities.

    (paras 30-32)


UN Committee on Enforced Disappearance


Concluding observations published: 25 May 2016

Last Reported: 31 October 2014

Statute of limitations: The Committee notes with appreciation that enforced disappearances covered by Organizational Act No. 53 are not subject to a statute of limitations. However, it regrets not having received adequate information about the system of statute of limitations that would apply to acts of enforced disappearance if they were committed after the period covered by the Act (para 18).

In the light of article 8 of the Convention, the Committee recommends that the State party adopt the legislative or other measures necessary to ensure that the term of limitations for criminal proceedings brought forward in respect of enforced disappearances not covered by Organizational Act No. 53 is of long duration; that it is proportionate to the extreme seriousness of the offence; and that, taking into account the continuous nature of enforced disappearance, it commences from the moment when the offence ceases (inter alia, from the moment when the disappeared person is found alive, in the event of death, when his or her remains are found and identified, or when the identity of a child subjected to wrongful removal is restored). The Committee encourages the State party, when criminalizing enforced disappearance as an autonomous offence, to provide that the offence is not subject to any statute of limitation (para 19).

Legislation concerning the wrongful removal of children: While taking note of the current criminal law provisions dealing with abduction of children and forgery, the Committee is concerned that the actions relating to the wrongful removal of children referred to in article 25 (1) of the Convention are not specifically criminalized. The Committee recommends that the State party adopt the legislative measures necessary to make the actions referred to in article 25 (1) of the Convention specific offences and that it establish appropriate penalties for such actions that take into account their extreme seriousness (paras 33, 34).

Effect of enforced disappearances on children: The Committee also wishes to emphasize the particularly cruel effect of enforced disappearance on the human rights of women and children. Women who are subjected to enforced disappearance are particularly vulnerable to sexual and other forms of gender-based violence. Women who are relatives of a disappeared person are particularly likely to suffer serious social and economic disadvantages and to be subjected to violence, persecution and reprisal as a result of their efforts to locate their loved ones. Children who are victims of enforced disappearance, either because they themselves were subjected to disappearance or because they suffer the consequences of the disappearance of their relatives, are especially vulnerable to numerous human rights violations, including identity substitution. In this context, the Committee places special emphasis on the need for the State party to ensure that gender perspectives and child-sensitive approaches are used in implementing the rights and obligations set out in the Convention (para 36).




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