COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 44 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations: Lebanon
1. The Committee considered the third periodic report of Lebanon (CRC/C/129/Add.7) at its 1142nd and 1 144th meetings (see CRC/C/SR. 1142 and 1144) held on 24 May 2006, and adopted at the 1 157th meeting, held on 2 June 2006, the following concluding observations:
2. The Committee welcomes the submission of the State party’s third periodic report, which provided a thorough and self-critical perspective to the implementation of the rights of the child in Lebanon. It also welcomes the State party’s written replies to its list of issues (CRC/C/LBN/Q/3), which allowed for a clearer understanding of the situation of children in the State party. The Committee further notes with appreciation the constructive dialogue it had with the high-level, cross-sectoral delegation, which provided additional information in the course of dialogue.
D. Principal subjects of concern and recommendations
1. General measures of implementation
(arts. 4, 42 and 44, para. 6 of the Convention)
Committee’s previous recommendations
7. The Committee notes with satisfaction the State party’s efforts to address various concerns and recommendations (CRC/C/15/Add.169) made upon the consideration of the State party’s second periodic report (CRC/C/70/Add.8) through legislative measures and policies. However, some of the concerns it expressed and recommendations it had made regarding, inter alia, independent monitoring, the minimum age for marriage, the very low age of criminal responsibility, the right to a nationality, the right to be protected against violence, and abuse and the protection of refugee children, including Palestinian children, have not been sufficiently addressed.
8. The Committee urges the State party to make every effort to address the recommendations issued in the concluding observations on the second periodic report that have not yet been implemented, and to address the list of concerns contained in the present concluding observations on the third periodic report.
19. The Committee welcomes the implementation of the “Child Info” programme on indicators relating to children and it is encouraged by the plan to establish a research, information and documentation centre for childhood within the framework of the programme of cooperation between the Lebanese Government and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) 2002-2006. However, the Committee is concerned about inadequate mechanisms to collect, analyse and disaggregate The Committee welcomes the implementation of the “Child Info” programme on indicators relating to children and it is encouraged by the plan to establish a research, information and documentation centre for childhood within the framework of the programme of cooperation between the Lebanese Government and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) 2002-2006. However, the Committee is concerned about inadequate mechanisms to collect, analyse and disaggregate statistical data on children and adolescents, and it regrets the lack of updated information and data concerning many issues covered by the Convention, for example, suicides among adolescents, residential care institutions, youth literacy, working children, Palestinian refugee children, children belonging to minorities and migrant children.
20. The Committee recommends that the State party continue to strengthen its mechanisms for data collection and develop indicators consistent with the Convention in order to ensure that data are collected on all areas covered by the Convention and that they are disaggregated, inter alia, by age for all persons under 18 years, gender, urban and rural area, and by those groups of children who are in need of special protection. It further encourages the State party to use these indicators and data to formulate policies and programmes for the effective implementation of the Convention. In addition, the Committee recommends that the State party continue to seek technical cooperation from UNICEF.
(arts. 2, 3, 6 and 12 of the Convention)
27. The Committee notes with appreciation that article 7 of the Constitution of Lebanon promotes the principle of non-discrimination. However, it notes with concern that the Constitution and domestic laws guarantee equal status only to Lebanese children, but leave, for example, foreign children and refugee and asylum-seeking children without such protection. It is concerned at the persistent de facto discrimination faced by children with disabilities, the aforementioned foreign, refugee and asylum-seeking children, Palestinian children, children living in poverty, children in conflict with the law, and children living in rural areas, especially with regard to their access to adequate social and health services and educational facilities. The Committee also notes with concern the reports of the expressions of racial discrimination and xenophobia in the State party.
28. The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its efforts to eliminate discrimination against children with disabilities, foreign, refugee and asylum-seeking children, Palestinian children, children living in poverty, children in conflict with the law, and children living in rural areas and other vulnerable groups:
a. By reviewing domestic laws with a view to ensure that children in the Lebanese territory are treated equally and as individuals;
b. By ensuring that these children have equal access to health and social services and to quality education, and that services used by these children are allocated sufficient financial and human resources;
c. By enhancing monitoring of programmes and services implemented by local authorities with a view to identifying and eliminating disparities; and
d. By preventing racial discrimination and xenophobia targeting certain foreign groups, including refugee and asylum-seeking children.
29. The Committee requests that specific information be included in the next periodic report on the measures and programmes relevant to the Convention undertaken by the State party in order to follow up on the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action adopted at the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, and taking into account the Committee’s general comment No. 1 on article 29, paragraph 1, of the Convention (aims of education).
Respect for the views of the child
34. The Committee notes with appreciation the State party’s efforts to promote and respect children’s right The Committee notes with appreciation the State party’s efforts to promote and respect children’s right to freely express their views and to participate in society, such as children’s municipality councils and youth cabinets, and the national plan of action to increase the participation of children and young people. In particular, the Committee welcomes the State party’s efforts to promote the right to participation of those children who belong to the most vulnerable groups, such as Palestinian refugee children.
35. Nevertheless, the Committee notes with concern that the religious and sharia courts decide on issues related to custody and care of the child without hearing the child’s opinion. It also shares the State party’s concern that the traditional attitudes in Lebanese society may limit children’s right to freely express their views within the family, in schools and in the community at large.
36. In the light of article 12 of the Convention, the Committee recommends that the State party continue to strengthen its efforts to promote respect for the views of all children and to facilitate their participation in all matters affecting them within the family, in schools, in institutions, and in judicial procedures, including procedures in the religious and sharia courts, in local communities and in society at large. It recommends that the State party undertake a regular review of the extent to which children’s views are taken into consideration and of their impact on policymaking and court decisions, on programme implementation and on children themselves. The Committee further recommends that the State party continue to collaborate with civil society organizations, including Save the Children, to increase opportunities for children’s participation.
4. Civil rights and freedoms
(arts. 7, 8, 13-17, 19 and 37 (a) of the Convention)
37. The Committee notes with concern that children born to Palestinian fathers, who do not themselves possess recognized identity documents, are not registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and neither receive recognized identity documents from the State party nor have the ability to acquire a nationality, even if they have a Lebanese mother, as nationality can be transmitted solely through a child’s father.
38. In order to secure the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by children in Lebanon, the Committee recommends that the State party ensure that all children within its territory, including the children of Palestinian refugees without identity documents, are registered immediately after birth. Meanwhile, children whose births have not been registered and who are without official documentation should be allowed to access basic services, such as health and education, while waiting to be properly registered.
39. The Committee reiterates its concern that citizenship is transmitted solely through a child’s father, which can result in statelessness, for example, among children born to Lebanese mothers and refugee fathers.
40. The Committee urges the State party to critically review its legislation, particularly the Legislative Decision No. 15/1925, in order to ensure that also a Lebanese mother has the right to confer Lebanese citizenship to her children equally and without discrimination.
6. Basic health and welfare
(arts. 6; 18, para. 3, 23; 24; 26; 27, paras. 1-3, of the Convention)
Children with disabilities
50. The Committee expresses its concern at many constraints that prevent the full implementation of the Law No. 220 of 2000 on the rights of persons with disabilities. Despite the efforts of the National Committee for Disabled Affairs and the intergovernmental disability committee under the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Committee notes with concern that children with disabilities are not provided with equal opportunities for full participation in all spheres of life, e.g. they have limited access to the physical environment, including public buildings, and transportation, information and communication, and inclusion of these children in the mainstream school system is still occasional. The Committee also notes with concern that children with disabilities are primarily placed in residential care institutions. Finally, it notes with concern that Palestinian refugee children with disabilities have inadequate access to community rehabilitation services and, in particular, that Palestinian refugee girls with disabilities face multiple discrimination.
51. The Committee recommends that the State party, taking into account the United Nations Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (see General Assembly resolution 48/96) and the recommendations adopted by the Committee on its Day of General Discussion on the rights of children with disabilities (see CRC/C/69):
a. Prevent and prohibit all forms of discrimination against children with disabilities and ensure equal opportunities for their full participation in all spheres of life by implementing the Law No. 220 of 2000 on the rights of persons with disabilities, and by including disability aspects in all relevant policymaking and national planning;
b. Collect adequate statistical data on children with disabilities and use such disaggregated data in developing policies and programmes to promote their equal opportunities in society, paying particular attention to children with disabilities belonging to the most vulnerable groups, such as children with disabilities living in remote areas of the country and Palestinian refugee children with disabilities, particularly girls;
c. Provide children with disabilities with access to adequate social and health services and the physical environment, information and communication;
d. Ensure that public education policy and school curricula reflect in all their aspects the principle of full participation and equality and include children with disabilities in the mainstream school system to the extent possible and, where necessary, establish special education programmes tailored to their special needs;
e. Develop programmes, including community-based programmes, in order to promote alternatives to institutionalization and allow children with disabilities to stay at home with their families;
f. Strengthen the functioning and activities of the National Committee for Disabled Affairs and cooperation with non-governmental organizations working in the field of disability issues;
Health and health services
52. The Committee commends the State party’s developed health-care system and notes with appreciation the declining rates of infant and under-five mortality. However, it notes with concern that:
(a) Disadvantaged families appear to lack equal access to quality health services;
(b) Regional disparities exist in the provision of health services and the national immunization programme;
(c) Despite improvements, the rate of exclusive breastfeeding is still relatively low; and
(d) Accidents constitute the main cause of child mortality (1-5 years) and adolescents.
56. As regards Palestinian refugee children and their health status, the Committee recommends that the State party address their special needs, such as acute health problems caused by poor living conditions, by supporting UNRWA and non-governmental organizations in their efforts to provide more targeted health services.
7. Education, leisure and cultural activities
(arts. 28, 29 and 31 of the Convention)
Education, including vocational training and guidance
63. The Committee welcomes the National Plan on School for All (2005-2015) and is encouraged by the improved enrolment in pre-primary education, but it notes with concern that no central authority is in charge of the preschool education. The Committee takes note of the State party’s intention to raise the age at which compulsory education ends, from current 12 years to 15 years. As regards primary education, the Committee notes with concern that parents are still charged for some costs of education despite the legal guarantee of free education, and that repetition and dropout rates have increased. It also notes with concern the decrease in the enrolment in secondary education and the backward quality of technical and vocational education and training.
65. As regards Palestinian refugee children, the Committee notes that UNRWA is the main provider of basic education and that in general, the enrolment rate of primary education is satisfactory. However, it is concerned about the low enrolment in secondary education, particularly with regard to girls. It notes with concern the high rate of illiteracy among Palestinian refugee children with disabilities, despite the fact that many of these children could benefit from school mainstreaming.
66. The Committee recommends that the State party adopt and implement adequate governmental programmes and projects to respond to the educational needs of Palestinian refugee children in addition to UNRWA’s efforts in this regard, and that it continue to cooperate closely with UNRWA.
8. Special protection measures
(arts. 22, 38, 39, 40, 37 (b)-(d), 32-36 of the Convention)
Palestinian refugee children
73. The Committee welcomes the efforts of the State party to address the issue of Palestinian refugee children living in Lebanon, for example by establishing a dialogue with UNRWA with the aim of improving respect and protection of Palestinian refugee children’s rights. The Committee also notes with appreciation that the State party has conducted field visits to familiarize itself with the actual situation and the needs of the Palestinians. Despite these positive developments, the Committee continues to be deeply concerned about the harsh social and economic living conditions of Palestinian refugee children in refugee camps, their limited access to public services, including social and health services and education, and their exposure to violence at home, in schools and in the wider community.
74. The Committee reiterates its previous recommendations in this regard adopted in 1996 (CRC/C/15/Add.54) and 2002 (CRC/C/15/Add.169) and urges the State party to ensure the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of Palestinian refugee children living in Lebanon, for example, by including them in development programmes, by paying special attention to the improvement of housing conditions in refugee camps, by ensuring their equal access to all public services and by protecting them from all forms of violence. The Committee recommends that the State party both continue and strengthen its support for UNRWA, and that it seek, where appropriate, international assistance in this regard.