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Children’s right to physical integrity

Doc. 13297: collection of written amendments | Doc. 13297 | Final version

Caption: AdoptedRejectedWithdrawnNo electronic votes

ADraft Resolution

1Many legislative and policy measures have been taken by Council of Europe member States in recent decades to improve the well-being of children and their protection against any form of violence. Nevertheless, children continue to be harmed in many different contexts.
2The Parliamentary Assembly is particularly worried about a category of violation of the physical integrity of children, which supporters of the procedures tend to present as beneficial to the children themselves despite clear evidence to the contrary. This includes, amongst others, female genital mutilation, the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons, early childhood medical interventions in the case of intersexual children and the submission to or coercion of children into piercings, tattoos or plastic surgery.

30 September 2013

Tabled by Ms Nursuna MEMECAN, Mr Şaban DİŞLİ, Ms Tülin ERKAL KARA, Mr Valeriu GHILETCHI, Mr Sabir HAJIYEV

Votes: 33 in favor 55 against 6 abstentions

In the draft resolution, paragraph 2, second sentence, delete the words "the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons".

Explanatory note

It wouldn't be appropriate for politicians to make comments on religous practices that have been observed by millions of Muslim and Jewish people for thousands of years. Male circumcision is recommended with plenty of scientific evidence, notably by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organisation.

3According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), in all actions concerning children, comprising every person under 18, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration and States are required to take “all appropriate ... measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse ... while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child” (Article 3).
4The Council of Europe has been actively promoting children's rights and child protection since 2006 through its Strategy for the Rights of the Child, and in which “Eliminating all forms of violence against children” can be found as one of four strategic objectives.
5The Assembly itself has adopted numerous texts drawing attention to various forms of violence inflicted upon children in bad faith (sexual violence in different contexts, violence in schools, domestic violence, etc.). It continues to fight against different forms of violence inflicted upon children via different promotional activities and campaigns (domestic violence, sexual violence). However, it has never looked into the category of non- medically justified violations of children’s physical integrity which may have a long-lasting impact on their lives.
6The Assembly strongly recommends that member States promote further awareness in their societies of the potential risks that some of the above mentioned procedures may have on children's physical and mental health, and take legislative and policy measures that help reinforce child protection in this context.
7The Assembly therefore calls on member States to:
7.1examine the prevalence of different categories of non-medically justified operations and interventions impacting on the physical integrity of children in their respective countries, as well as the specific practices related to them, and to carefully consider them in light of the best interests of the child in order to define specific lines of action for each of them;
7.2initiate focused awareness-raising measures for each of these categories of violation of the physical integrity of children, to be carried out in the specific contexts where information may best be conveyed to families, such as the medical sector (hospitals and individual practitioners), schools, religious communities or service providers;
7.3provide specific training, including on risks of and alternatives to certain procedures, as well as the medical reasons and minimum sanitary conditions that should be fulfilled when performing them, to various professionals involved, in particular medical and educational staff, but also, on a voluntary basis, religious representatives;
7.4initiate a public debate, including intercultural and interreligious dialogue, aimed at reaching a large consensus on where the limits with regard to violations of the physical integrity of children are to be drawn according to human rights standards, and at striking a balance between the rights and the best interest of the child and the rights and religious freedoms of parents and families;

30 September 2013

Tabled by Mr Geraint DAVIES, Mr Joe BENTON, Lord Donald ANDERSON, Mr Ian LIDDELL-GRAINGER, Sir Alan MEALE, Mr David CRAUSBY, Mr Michael CONNARTY

Falls if amendment 4 is adopted.

Votes: 66 in favor 22 against 12 abstentions

In the draft resolution, paragraph 7.4, replace the words: "where the limits with regard to violations of the physical integrity of children are to be drawn according to human rights standards, and at striking a balance between the rights and the best interest of the child and the rights and religious freedoms of parents and families;" with the following words: "the rights of children to protection against violations of their phycical integrity according to human rights standards;"

Explanatory note

Paragraph 7.4 suggested "striking a balance between the rights and the best interest of the child and the rights and religious freedoms of parents and families". There is no such balance as the rights of children to be protected from serious physical abuse is fundamental and non-negotiable.

30 September 2013

Tabled by Ms Nursuna MEMECAN, Mr Şaban DİŞLİ, Ms Tülin ERKAL KARA, Mr Sabir HAJIYEV, Ms Nermina KAPETANOVIĆ

If adopted, amendment 1 falls.

Votes: 27 in favor 69 against 6 abstentions

In the draft resolution, delete paragraph 7.4.

Explanatory note

Putting religious beliefs and practices into the debate is not within the mandate of the Council of Europe and is a dangerous approach which will be considered as provocation.

7.5take the following measures with regard to specific categories of violation of children’s physical integrity:
7.5.1publicly condemn the most harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation, and pass legislation banning these, thus providing public authorities with the mechanisms to prevent and effectively fight these practices, including through the application of extraterritorial “legislation or other measures to establish jurisdiction” for cases where nationals are submitted to female genital mutilation abroad, as specified in Article 44 of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (CETS No. 210);
7.5.2clearly define the medical, sanitary and other conditions to be ensured for practices which are today widely carried out in certain religious communities, such as the non-medically justified circumcision of young boys;

30 September 2013

Tabled by Ms Nursuna MEMECAN, Mr Şaban DİŞLİ, Ms Tülin ERKAL KARA, Mr Valeriu GHILETCHI, Mr Sabir HAJIYEV

Votes: 35 in favor 71 against 2 abstentions

In the draft resolution, paragraph 7.5.2, delete the words "such as the non-medically justified circumcision of young boys".

Explanatory note

Circumcision of boys is actually medically recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organisation. Circumcision of boys should be conducted by experts in sanitary conditions as stated in the beginning of this paragraph. But it is wrong to call it a "non-medically justified" procedure

7.5.3undertake further research into rare phenomena such as intersexuality or DSD (differences of sexual development) to ensure that all children concerned may benefit from operations according to the highest medical and ethical standards and the current state of the medical art, and be submitted to them at an age appropriate for their specific DSD symptoms;

In the draft resolution, replace paragraph 7.5.3 with the following paragraph:

"undertake further research to increase knowledge about the specific situation of intersex people, ensure that no-one is subjected to unnecessary medical or surgical treatment that is cosmetic rather than vital for health during infancy or childhood, guarantee bodily integrity, autonomy and self-determination to persons concerned, and provide families with intersex children with adequate counselling and support."

7.6promote an interdisciplinary dialogue between representatives of various professional backgrounds, including medical doctors and religious representatives, so as to overcome some of the prevailing traditional methods which do not take into consideration the best interest of the child and the latest state of medical art;

30 September 2013

Tabled by Ms Nursuna MEMECAN, Mr Şaban DİŞLİ, Ms Tülin ERKAL KARA, Mr Sabir HAJIYEV, Ms Nermina KAPETANOVIĆ

Votes: 28 in favor 71 against 6 abstentions

In the draft resolution, delete paragraph 7.6.

Explanatory note

Religious values and practices should not be put into debate at political platforms. Otherwise, there are many other practices of all religions which can be taken into agenda. Therefore it’s not a matter of interdisciplinary dialogue between representatives of various professionals but it is simply a matter of religious practices.

7.7raise awareness about the need to ensure the participation of children in decisions concerning their physical integrity wherever appropriate and possible, and to adopt specific legal provisions to ensure that certain operations and practices will not be carried out before a child is old enough to be consulted.

30 September 2013

Tabled by Ms Nursuna MEMECAN, Mr Şaban DİŞLİ, Ms Tülin ERKAL KARA, Mr Valeriu GHILETCHI, Mr Sabir HAJIYEV

Votes: 32 in favor 63 against 7 abstentions

In the draft resolution, paragraph 7.7, delete the words "and to adopt specific legal provisions to ensure that certain operations and practices will not be carried out before a child is old enough to be consulted".

Explanatory note

According to the UN Declaration against Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion, parents of the child have the right to organise life within the family in accordance with their religion or belief and bearing in mind the moral education in which they believe the child should be brought up.

CDraft Recommendation

1The Parliamentary Assembly welcomes the ambitious work undertaken by the Council of Europe in favour of children’s human rights, which has always followed a comprehensive approach including child protection, the promotion of children’s development and child participation as the main pillars of effective child rights strategies.
2The Assembly welcomes, in particular, the fact that the Council of Europe’s Strategy for the Rights of the Child already focuses on eliminating all forms of violence against children amongst its strategic objectives, and strongly encourages the Committee of Ministers to allow this work to continue along the same lines beyond 2015.
3The Assembly points out, however, that a certain category of human rights violations against children is not yet explicitly covered by any international or European policy or legal instrument: the medically unjustified violations of children’s physical integrity as specified in Assembly Resolution … (2013) on “Children’s right to physical integrity”.
4With the purpose of reinforcing the protection of children’s rights and well-being at the European level, the Assembly invites the Committee of Ministers to:
4.1fully take into account the issue of children’s right to physical integrity when preparing and adopting its new Strategy for the Rights of the Child as of 2015, in particular as regards the fight against all forms of violence against children and the promotion of child participation in decisions concerning them;
4.2consider the explicit inclusion of children's right to physical integrity, as well as their right to participate in any decision concerning them, into relevant Council of Europe standards and, to this end, to examine in a comprehensive manner in which Council of Europe instruments such rights should be included.