Concluding observations for 68th's Colombia combined fourth and fifth periodic report



Held by the Committee: 12-30 February 2015

Published by the Committee: 4 February 2015

Issues raised:

Ratification and policy initiatives:

The Committee welcomes the adoption of The Law No. 1098 on Code for Children and Adolescents, in 2006; The Policy and Strategy on Early Childhood, in 2010; The National Action Plan for Children and Adolescents (2009-2019) (para.4,5).


The Committee is concerned about the structural discrimination against indigenous, Afro-Colombian and displaced children, children with disabilities, children living with HIV/AIDS, LGBTI children, and children living in rural, remote and marginalized urban areas (para.19).

The Committee is concerned that indigenous and Afro-Colombian children continue to face discrimination and numerous challenges in accessing education, health, civil registration services and justice. It also remains concerned that they are disproportionally affected by violence and the armed conflict and over-represented among displaced children and those recruited by non-State armed groups (para.57).

Harmful stereotypes:

The persistent patriarchal attitudes and gender stereotypes that discriminate against girls and women resulting in an extremely high prevalence of violence against girls (para.19).


Many children are victims of killings and disappearance, including killings committed by government agents, and an extensive impunity prevails in this regard. The root causes of those violent acts, such as the armed conflict, organised crime, corruption, drugs, poverty and marginalization remain insufficiently addressed.  Many children continue to be used by adults to commit crimes. (para.23).

The Committee is concerned about reports that children continue to be victims of acts of torture and other cruel or degrading treatment or punishment by government agents or non-State armed groups; The high prevalence of domestic violence and abuse, particularly affecting girls, including those involved in domestic work. The Committee is concerned that, due to the deficiencies in the APRR, while child victims are removed from the home environment the perpetrator remains in the home; The high incidence of violence against children perpetrated by gangs in the streets; Reports that corporal punishment remains widespread and that it is not yet explicitly prohibited in all settings, including in the home;  The extensive impunity prevailing in regard to acts of violence against children; The physical and mental well-being of children involved in the training of bullfighting, and performances associated with it, as well as the mental and emotional well-being of child spectators who are exposed to the violence of bullfighting; (para.27).

Committee remains deeply concerned about the continuous violations of children rights, mostly affecting rural, indigenous and Afro-descendant children and children from marginalized urban areas. It is particularly concerned about: The continuous recruitment of children by non-State armed groups; The heavy recruitment of children by the BACRIM and reports that some of these children are prosecuted by the State party as criminals and not treated as victims, thus not being included in the ICBF program for demobilized children; Girls recruited being subjected to serious sexual violence in a repeated and systematic manner including rape, sexual slavery and exploitation, forced pregnancy and abortion and passing on of sexually transmitted diseases;  Continuous installation of explosive artefacts by non-State armed groups and the reductions of the budget allocated to anti-personnel mines, unexploded ordnance and other improvised explosive artefacts (APM/UXO/IED) programmes; The numerous violations against children's rights allegedly committed by the Police and armed forces, in particular sexual violence and the continuing use of children as part of intelligence gathering activities; The very low number of prosecutions of offences covered by the Optional Protocol; The insufficient coordination between institutions (para. 65).

Sexual exploitation:

The Committee is concerned about the high prevalence of sexual violence against children, in particular girls in the context of the armed conflict and the under-registration of cases; The high number of girls under 14 years of age giving birth in hospitals as a result of sexual violence and that these cases are not expeditiously investigated, while noting that the State party has recently taken measures to ensure mandatory reporting by medical staff. The Committee is particularly concerned at reports that many of the alleged perpetrators are relatives of the victims; The enormous challenges that child victims face to effectively access justice and the prevalence of impunity in the majority of cases; The lack of adequate health and psychosocial programmes and suitable mechanisms to provide reparation to child victims of sexual violence, in particular when violations are committed by the BACRIM or outside of the armed conflict context (para.29).

The Committee is concerned about the sexual exploitation of children being widespread and increasing, in particular around extractive industries and military and National Police bases; The extensive impunity for the offences under the Optional Protocol, due to, among others, challenges related to administrative and judicial procedures, and a lack of adequate protection of victims and witnesses. The high number of organizations based in the State party involved in international networks of sexual exploitation, in particular child pornography; Widespread trafficking of children, in particular girls, affecting displaced, Afro-Colombians and indigenous children, and the insufficient measures taken to identify and assist child victims (para.63).

Harmful practices:

The Committee is concerned that the Civil Code still contains an exception to the minimum age of marriage set at 18 years, and allows 14 years old girls and boys to enter marriage with the consent of their parent or guardians. It is also concerned that child marriage, particularly affecting girls, is highly prevalent in the State party; In spite of the public commitment of the Embera community’s authorities to end the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), this practice continues to exist in that community (para.31).

Children deprived of families:

The Committee is concerned about the high number of cases of abandoned children; Reports that children continue to be separated from their families because of poverty, in particular children of displaced families;  The failure to reduce institutionalization and ensure that this is only used as a measure of last resort; Some institutions and foster homes not complying with international standards;  The lack of disaggregated data on children whose families benefit from assistance and those deprived of a family environment (para.33).


The Committee is concerned that the number of international adoptions continues to be high and that national adoptions are not prioritized; There are reports that not all adoptions are directly administered by the ICBF and that private adoption houses and institutions are still operating, increasing the risk of improper financial and another gain including children being sold for adoption; Restrictive criteria on adoptability are used (para.35).


The Committee is concerned about the health related legislation and policies are poorly implemented; Child and maternal mortality rates continue to be very high, particularly among rural, indigenous and Afro-Colombian populations; Children not registered with a health service provider are often refused health care services; 20 percent of the child population have not completed the  scheduled vaccination; Chronic malnutrition persists, in particular among indigenous and Afro-Colombian children; Exclusive maternal breastfeeding declined in 2010 and there is persisting inadequate baby feeding practices (para.39).

The Committee is also concerned about the very high rate of adolescent pregnancies, in particular in rural areas, including many pregnancies of girls under 15 years of age; The high rates of maternal mortality among adolescents as a result of inadequate access to sexual and reproductive services (para.43).

The Committee remains concerned that children continue to abuse drugs at increasingly early ages and that the State party has not adopted sufficient measures to address the phenomenon (para.47).


The Committee is concerned about the low quality of education, due to an inadequate budget, resulting in insufficient and deficient infrastructure and a lack of qualified teachers; The significant differences in the education coverage, mostly affecting indigenous, Afro-Colombian, displaced and rural children, in particular girls; The ineffective implementation of the policy on education for indigenous and Afro-Colombian children, while noting the adoption of the Decree 1953 in October 2014 aiming to reinforce the autonomy of indigenous peoples in the area of education; The high rate of dropouts, the insufficient measures to identify and address its root causes and reports that many of the girls who drop out do so because of being pregnant; Teachers' exposure to an increasing number of death threats and violence, attacks against schools, military bases and units near schools, occupation of schools and school study visits to military centres against directives (para.51).

Displaced children:

The Committee remains concerned that these efforts have been insufficient to adequately ensure the rights of displaced children as ordered by the Constitutional Court. It is particularly concerned that the specific needs of displaced girls, who are greatly exposed to violence and discrimination, have not been sufficiently addressed (para.55).

Mental health:

The Committee is concerned about the prevalence of suicide among children, in particular adolescents and indigenous children, has increased (para.41).

Labour exploitation:

The Committee is concerned at the high number of children involved in child labour. In particular, it remains deeply concerned about the persistent involvement of children in dangerous and/or degrading work such as agricultural labour in illegal crops, drug dealing, illegal mining and bullfighting (para.59).

Children in street situations:

The Committee is concerned that children are generally stereotyped as criminals (para.61).

Juvenile justice:

The Committee is concerned about regressive legal proposals to reduce the age of criminal responsibility, increase the sanctions and expand the list of crimes for which children may be deprived of their liberty; The excessive delays in designating a governing body of the system; The lack of adequately trained and specialized staff in the SCRA and the insufficient allocation of resources; The disproportionate use of the punishment of deprivation of liberty for adolescents; The insufficient measures taken to improve the conditions in juvenile detention centres and prevent violence against children in detention (para.67).

Child victims and witness of crimes:

The Committee regrets the insufficient measures taken by the State party to protect child victims and witnesses of crimes (para.70).

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