New recommendations from the United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of the Child highlight areas of progress and concern
Phnom Penh, 16 June 2022- The United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of the Child has issued its observations on the progress Cambodia has made towards meeting the legally-binding international Convention on the Rights of the Child. It recognises the progress made by the Royal Government of Cambodia between 2011 and 2022, while also highlighting areas of concern around issues such as education and child protection.
The Committee monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which is based on the key principles of the right to life, survival and development, non-discrimination, best interest of the child, and the right to be heard. As the most ratified international convention in the world, the CRC has inspired governments to change laws and policies to ensure the fulfilment, realisation and protection of children’s rights.
“The Committee welcomes the various legislative, institutional and policy measures to implement the Convention, including the adoption of the law on juvenile justice, the action plan to prevent and respond to violence against children, the action plan for improving childcare, and the policies on child protection in schools and on inclusive education,” states the Committee’s concluding observations. “[The Committee] notes with appreciation the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2012 and accession to the Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance in 2013.”
However, the Committee also raised concerns in other areas, such as the lack of free compulsory education for children in Cambodia and a draft law which proposes segregated classes for children with disabilities. The Committee recommended that the Royal Government of Cambodia provide free and compulsory primary education for all children for at least nine years, and amend its draft law to guarantee the right of all children with disabilities to inclusive education. It also recommended that children whose schooling was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic should benefit from interventions to address learning losses during this period.
In addition, the Committee raised concerns about the high level of sexual exploitation and abuse of children. It urged Cambodia to ensure the effective investigation of and intervention in all cases of sexual exploitation and abuse of children in and outside the home, and in the digital environment, including grooming. It argued that progress towards prioritising family-based care for children should continue and efforts be increased, supported by a larger number of social workers in all provinces.
Guided by the Convention of the Rights of the Child, UNICEF is the United Nations agency mandated to safeguard the rights of every child, and works with partners including the Royal Government of Cambodia, to act on the CRC recommendations.
“We congratulate the Royal Government of Cambodia on the progress it has made in improving children’s lives in recent decades, but this report shows there are still areas of serious concern,” said Foroogh Foyouzat, UNICEF’s Representative in Cambodia. “Even in areas where solid progress has been made, COVID has caused serious setbacks. Now is the time to focus our efforts on overcoming those setbacks and tackling the challenges the CRC recommendations identify. In the next few weeks, UNICEF, together with the Ministry of Social Affairs Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, will consult with key stakeholders to act on these recommendations, with the ultimate goal of ensuring all Cambodian children’s rights are respected, realized, fulfilled and protected.”
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