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Committee on the Rights of the Child reviews report of Tanzania

Committee on the Rights of the Child

16 January 2015

The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its consideration of the combined third to fifth periodic report of Tanzania on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Presenting the report, Pindi Hazara Chana, Deputy Minister of Community Development, Gender and Children of Tanzania, said that Tanzania was committed to engage with all relevant stakeholders in consultation processes in order to further implement the provisions of the Convention and its protocols.  Tanzania provided for free and compulsory education from primary level to secondary education.  It recognized that the existence of traditional attitudes and behaviours continued to affect the welfare and the rights of the child.  The Government was nonetheless satisfied with the improvements achieved and hoped to do a lot more in turning the remaining challenges into opportunities.

In the interactive dialogue, Committee Experts expressed appreciation about the legislative improvements made in Tanzania, but underlined that implementation was insufficient, particularly with regards to violence against children.  Experts expressed deep concerns about violence and discrimination perpetrated against persons and children with albinism.  They also raised concerns about harmful traditional practices affecting girls, including female genital mutilation and early marriage.  They were concerned that pregnant girls were very often discriminated against and sent away from schools, and that Tanzania had not explicitly banned corporal punishment in all settings.  Questions were raised about health, including measures taken to promote breastfeeding and avoid children and maternal mortality and morbidity.  Experts underlined that pre-trial detention should be avoided for children in conflict with the law.  The issues of child labour and corporate social responsibility were also raised. 

In concluding remarks, Benyam Mezmur, Committee Member and Rapporteur for the report of Tanzania, welcomed that Tanzania had adopted a series of laws and measures that went in the right direction, but stressed that implementation remained unsufficient in Tanzania.  The Committee was concerned about many issues relating to violence against children.  He also reiterated the Committee’s concerns with regards to discrimination against pregnant girls, birth registration and corporal punishment, and highlighted some questions that had been raised about health, education and juvenile justice. 

Hiranthi Wijemanne, Committee Member and Rapporteur for the report of Tanzania, said in concluding remarks that families and communities, in light of the crucial role they played in child development, all needed to get engaged and involved in the implementation of the Convention. 

Pindi Hazara Chana, Deputy Minister of Community Development, Gender and Children of Tanzania, said in concluding remarks that Tanzania was determined to review and improve areas where gaps remained, and would give due consideration to the recommendations of the Committee. 

The delegation of Tanzania included representatives of the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children of Tanzania, the Ministry of Empowerment, Social Welfare, Youth, Women and Children of Zanzibar, a Legal Officer of Zanzibar and the Permanent Mission of Tanzania to the United Nations Office at Geneva. 

The Committee will next meet in public on Monday, 19 January at 3 p.m. to consider the combined third and fourth periodic report of Jamaica (CRC/C/JAM/3-4) in Chamber A and to consider the combined third to fifth periodic report of Uruguay (CRC/C/URY/3-5) under the Convention and its initial reports under the Optional Protocols on children and armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (CRC/C/OPAC/URY/1 and CRC/C/OPSC/URY/1 respectively) in Chamber B.

Report

The combined third to fifth periodic report of Tanzania under the Convention on the Rights of the Child can be read via the following link: CRC/C/TZA/3-5.

Presentation of the Report

PINDI HAZARA CHANA, Deputy Minister of Community Development, Gender and Children of Tanzania, introducing the report, said that Tanzania had been implementing the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols and was committed to engage with all relevant stakeholders in consultation processes in order to further implement them.  Tanzania had conducted broad consultations for the preparation of the report being considered by the Committee.  Regarding budget allocations, the Government had significantly increased the budget affecting children, including the budget allocated to the Ministry of Health and other State agencies relevant for the welfare of children.  A new Constitution adopted in October 2014 guaranteed the protection of the rights of the child.  Programmes were being implemented, including a five-year strategy for progressive child justice reform, to ensure that children’s rights remained paramount in Tanzania.  Tanzania provided for free and compulsory education from primary level to secondary education.  The new education policy 2014 addressed concerns regarding education for girls. 

Tanzania recognized that some challenges remained, including limitations in terms of the budget and the existence of traditional attitudes and behaviours that continued to affect the welfare and the rights of the child.  The Government was nonetheless satisfied with the level of improvement achieved and hoped to do a lot more in turning the remaining challenges into opportunities. Through the Legal Sector Reforms Programme, Tanzania was determined to ensure that its legislation would be amended in conformity with international human rights standards.  

Questions by the Experts

BENYAM MEZMUR, Committee Member and Rapporteur for the report of Tanzania, said that a number of reforms were moving Tanzania in the right direction and welcomed the efforts by the Government, although efforts would have to be made for a better implementation of legislation.  He asked whether the national plans of action and policies had received sufficient funding for their implementation.  In relation to coordination, there were concerns about the heavy reliance on external funding and on a possible duplication of efforts.  Mr. Mezmur asked whether the increase in the budget took into account the increase of the number of children in the country.  From the overall picture, he said, there seemed to be no increment on budget allocated to health. 

On the issue of the dissemination of information on the Convention, Mr. Mezmur asked whether children’s rights were part of the school curriculum, and asked for information on the impact of awareness raising campaigns organized by the Government.  The Rapporteur welcomed that data collection efforts had been made, and asked whether progress had been made on disaggregated data on all categories of children provided for in the Convention.  He then asked whether more could be done in the area of collaboration with civil society organizations.  There was a huge room for improvement of birth registration in Tanzania, the Expert noted.  The disparity between rural areas and the main cities in terms of birth registration was huge. 

HIRANTHI WIJEMANNE, Committee Member and Rapporteur for the report of Tanzania, said that fundamental challenges remained and needed to be responded to.  These included birth registration, maternal mortality, violence against girls, and continuing issues regarding juvenile justice.  It was important to scale up and reach out to all children, she said.  For that, it was important to monitor progress, and prioritize and collect data on children’s rights. 

On the legal aspects, a Committee Expert welcomed that Tanzania had ratified several international human rights instruments, and asked whether it would consider the ratification of a number of other instruments, including the Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and their Families as well as the third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communication procedure.  He noted that as Tanzania had a dualist system, the Convention could not be directly invoked by domestic courts.  This meant that the law should transcript the provisions of the Convention, which was not completely the case.  The minimum age for marriage was for example, in practice, not compliant with the Convention.  Inconsistences existed as well for the minimum age for work and the minimum age for criminal responsibility.  Was there any planned reform to fully harmonize the domestic legal system with the Convention on the Rights of the Child?  

In relation to the definition of a child, an Expert asked whether Tanzania would take measures to set the minimum age to marry at 18. 

An Expert noted that there had been an increase of foreign investments in Tanzania, which could be a good thing.  It was however asked whether Tanzania had any legislation on corporate social responsibility, and whether it had taken measures to ensure that activities taken by enterprises, including the mining industry, did not have a negative impact on the rights of the child.  The Expert also asked to which extent these activities had an economic impact for the local population. 

On the participation of children, an Expert asked for information on how children with disabilities and children with albinism were being included in public life.  Information was also asked about radio broadcasts specifically dedicated to children.  What did the guidelines on the use of the internet consist of?  Did children have full access to the internet and social media?  Experts inquired about measures taken to combat discrimination against children with albinism, children with disabilities, and girls and children from other vulnerable groups. 

On violence against children, several Experts raised the issue of children with albinism, and asked whether the perpetrators of the recent murders of children with albinism had been identified and prosecuted.  An Expert also asked whether Tanzania was considering banning traditional healers.  Corporal punishment was legal in the home, alternative care facilities and in schools, Experts regretted.  Tanzania had affirmed during its last Universal Periodic Review that corporal punishment in public schools would be maintained.  Was this still the view of the Government?  Female genital mutilation continued to occur, Experts noted, and was even used against younger and younger girls. 

An Expert asked for information on children removed from the family setting and on the conditions in which they lived in alternative care facilities. 

With regards to the National Children’s Council, an Expert asked whether children could present complaints to this office and whether its staff was educated on the rights of the child. 

Response by the Delegation

On the issue of coordination, a delegate said that the implementation of human rights issues was done at the ministerial level in order not to duplicate efforts or over-budget measures.  With regards to the relations between the mainland and Zanzibar, a Union Committee was in charge of coordinating efforts and policies.  The Government was also cooperating with the private sector, including civil society organizations, for the implementation of the rights of the child. 

In Tanzania, the impact of awareness raising campaigns undertaken by the Government could be measured.  The understanding of human rights had grown among the population, and violence against women was increasingly being reported as a result of this. 

Corporal punishment was inherited from colonialism and continued after independence.  Zanzibar had already banned it, and Tanzania was committed to improve its legislation.  Nowadays, only head teachers had the authorization to carry out corporal punishment.  This needed to be abolished, the delegation said, but addressing this issue would also require a change in mind sets. 

Female genital mutilation was criminalized in Tanzania; communities understood and girls increasingly reported such cases.  Girls who reported those practices were taken to hostels for their protection. 

Several cases of violence perpetrated against children with albinism were under consideration before the courts.  The Government attached great importance to the issue of stopping traditional healers from harming others. 

Regarding the minimum age for marriage, the delegation said that the new Constitution defined children as any person under 18.  The entire legislation, including the legislation on marriage, would have to be amended to take the dispositions of the new Constitution into account.   A national programme on eliminating child marriage would be undertaken. 

On birth registration, a delegate explained that a birth extract was systematically given right after the birth in hospitals and dispensaries.  A strategy was launched in 2012 to implement free registration in some regions.  Lack of resources remained a problem for implementing this in all regions.  Authorities did go in schools to reach un-registered children and provide those under 5 years old with free registration.  For children above the age of 5, the price of registration had been reduced. 

With regards to children’s participation, children clubs and children councils provided children with space to express their views, at the national but also at the local level.  Television and radio programmes had been used by children to raise their views. 

Tanzania had developed guidelines on parenting education, training guardians on how to take care of children or how to teach their children about access to technologies. 

Criminal responsibility for a child was set at 18 years, a delegate said.  Most of the legal framework pertaining to the definition of a child was under review to better reflect the provisions of the Convention. 

Follow-up Questions from the Experts

Experts underlined that corporal punishment should be prohibited irrelevant of who had demanded it.  Although some children needed discipline, this had to be done using non-violent means.  An Expert used best practices from other countries as an example, such as providing training to teachers on the prohibition of corporal punishment and alternative discipline measures. 

An Expert asked whether children’s participation had had an impact on combatting female genital mutilation or early marriage. 

BENYAM MEZMUR, Committee Member and Rapporteur for the report of Tanzania, asked whether alternative care centres had to respect certain standards and whether their staff had received training on child rights.  He then inquired on whether Tanzania would ratify the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption. 

On education, Mr. Mezmur expressed concerns about the decline of enrolment in primary education and about access to secondary education for children living in rural areas.  He then asked what the Government was doing to address the challenges faced by young girls who fell pregnant.  What was being done to ensure their rights to healthcare and to education?  What was being done to ensure that they were not taken out of school?  What was being done to ensure that the perpetrators of sexual violence against them were held accountable?  Going back to education, the Rapporteur asked what was being done to address the shortage of teachers. 
 
An Expert asked what activities had been organized to promote and protect breastfeeding as part of the breastfeeding week organized by the Government. 

The child mortality rate seemed to be the same as it was six years before, one Expert regretted.  What would be done to address this problem?  

Considering the absolute ban on abortion, were there any specific awareness raising campaigns on how to avoid pregnancy? 

An Expert noted that, despite some progress in law, children with disabilities remained discriminated against in practice.  Were there any further awareness raising campaigns planned on this issue?  Was the population free to access early diagnosis programmes?  How many children with disabilities attended mainstream education? 

Experts insisted that child labour had to be prohibited both in law and practice.  Children continued to work in the mining industry as early as at the age of 8, which had to stop.  Economic exploitation of children was a real matter of concern for the Committee, Experts said.  What State oversight mechanisms had been put in place?  Also, Experts insisted that the prohibition of child labour was not sufficient to address the issue of children being enrolled as soldiers.  The Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, to which Tanzania was a State party, required that a specific criminal offense was created. 

Experts demanded information on the juvenile courts in Tanzania, and whether these were able to address all cases involving children in conflict with the law throughout the country. 

Experts referred to reports that drug abuse had increased in Tanzania, and asked what measures had been taken to prevent this. 

Response by the Delegation

On corporate social responsibility, the delegation explained that the law required investors to meet a number of social criteria and get involved through partnerships with the public sector in the provision of basic services.  The Labour Inspectorate monitored mining activities.

Community radio stations broadcast programmes to educate adults on the need to combat harmful traditional practices, including female genital mutilation and early marriage. 

On access to education, a delegate said that the Government was providing financial support, including the suppression of fees, to ensure that all children could go to school.  Vocational colleges existed as an alternative for children who were more interested in technical education.  Pregnant girls were not discriminated against in terms of access to education.  Teachers were held accountable for any violation of children’s rights in schools.  The Government acknowledged that the shortage of teachers was an issue.  People received additional support for attending teaching schools, and had guaranteed direct employment once they graduated.  The Government also granted special support to teachers in rural areas.  Teaching methodology had been improved to ensure that fewer books were needed. 

With regards to nutrition, awareness raising initiatives were undertaken during breastfeeding week on the importance of breastfeeding and on the potential dangers of powder milk.  Mothers with HIV/AIDS were taught to breastfeed without transmitting the virus to their child.  The Steering Committee on Nutrition had also undertaken initiatives on nutrition. 

On discrimination, the delegation said that children with disabilities were protected under the law, and awareness raising campaigns had been undertaken on their difficulties and needs.  Measures had been put in place to help the early identification of disabilities.  The number of children with disabilities attending mainstream education was indicated in the State party’s report to the Committee, a delegate said. 

On juvenile justice, the delegation said that six children were currently detained in Tanzania.  Committee rehabilitation and probation programmes were available for juvenile offenders.  Five detention centres were equipped to receive juvenile offenders.  The Government was committed to improve the training of law enforcement personnel to limit pre-trial detentions for minors.  Judges had the possibility to speed up procedures when minors were involved.  The goal was to ultimately avoid pre-trial detentions lasting more than six months. 

Drug abuse was a challenge, the delegation said.  A drug commission addressed all issues related to drugs, including those affecting children. 

A study had been undertaken on street children in the capital, and Children’s Councils had undertaken campaigns on the dangers of living in the street. 

Child pornography was prohibited in Tanzania under the Broadcasting Act.  The legislation also prohibited child trafficking. 

Follow-up Questions from the Experts

An Expert said that the legislative framework addressing the issue of children with disabilities was very good, but that what was lacking was implementation and resources for it.  The Expert asked what investments had been made to ensure equal access to education.  Were teachers trained on the specific needs of children with disabilities? 

On education, Experts welcomed that measures had been taken to support parents in affording the cost of enrolling their children in schools. 

Pre-trial detentions were very long, an Expert regretted.  One person had reportedly been held on pre-trial detention for eight years.  Would the Government initiate reforms on this issue?  Were there any alternatives to pre-trial detention for children?  Experts underlined that pre-trial detentions should not be just reduced for children; they should be avoided and replaced with alternative measures. 

An Expert welcomed that there was a de facto moratorium on the use of the death penalty in Tanzania, and asked whether there existed data on the situation of children with parents on death row and in prison.

An Expert regretted the lack of data on street children.  Was anything being done to make sure that street children in the capital coming from other parts of the country were sent back to their families? 

An Expert said that shelters in Tanzania should be better monitored to ensure that children’s rights were protected and respected there.  It would be also good to facilitate children in shelters being reunited with their parents. 

Experts asked what measures were being taken to properly train mothers on breastfeeding and to regulate the sale of alternative products. 

The Committee underlined that it had in the past recommended that Tanzania explicitly prohibit the expulsion of pregnant girls from school, one Expert noted.  Had it been done?  Did the Government of Tanzania recognize that this was an important issue?  Another Expert underlined that the practice of systematically testing young girls for pregnancy was in contradiction with the Convention. 

An Expert asked for details on campaigns and initiatives to combat female genital mutilation, which was a big issue in Tanzania. 

Experts reiterated their deep concerns about violence and atrocities, including trafficking of body parts, reportedly being perpetrated against persons with albinism, and asked what concrete measures had been taken to punish the perpetrators and to change mind sets and superstitions on this.  Experts also asked what was being done to address discrimination against children with disabilities. 

Response from the Delegation

On pregnant girls, a delegate said that awareness raising was underway to put an end to compulsory pregnancy testing in schools, and to make it voluntary only. 

Tanzania’s legislation prohibited child marriage, and campaigns were carried out to raise awareness on this. 

The Government attached great importance to the nutrition of children, including breastfeeding.  Programmes provided training for mothers on this, and guidelines on breastfeeding had been implemented.   The Tanzania Food and Development Authority, together with other State agencies, was controlling the quality of food, and undertaking information campaigns in the media to raise awareness on the importance of breastfeeding. 

The Government worked in close collaboration with non-governmental organizations to address the issue of street children, and send them back to their families. 

Pre-school education was made available to all children, a delegate said, including through the provision of a pre-school grant.   Pre-primary education was for two years, between the age of five and six, before children started primary school at seven. 

Tanzania had commissioned a study on the issue of persons with albinism.  Thirty-six persons with albinism were killed recently, two disappeared and several others were injured.  Five perpetrators were charged, and eight cases were still under consideration.   One big awareness session meeting was held the year before to try to change the mind set of people and enable the communities to report such cases.  The Government was trying to ban fortune tellers, who often encouraged the use of organs of persons with albinism.  Local leaders also played a role in preventing violence against persons with albinism.  The existence of the death penalty in Tanzania allowed some sort of prevention of crimes perpetrated against persons with albinism. 

Female genital mutilation was often conducted in rural areas, where traditions were deeply rooted.  The Government was explicitly targeting these areas, including by providing leaders there with alternative economic activities.  Carrying out female genital mutilation was considered a criminal offense, and children were given the opportunity to report such cases whenever they occurred. 

The Government of Zanzibar had developed plans, with the support of international organizations, to raise awareness on combatting violence against children.  The Government of Zanzibar was not providing condoms for boys, but was collaborating with civil society organizations on awareness raising on preventing HIV/ AIDS and early pregnancies.  Magistrates, prosecutors and social workers were being trained to ensure that children in conflict with the law received proper protection.  Data was being collected to properly identify the number of children with their mothers in prison and to ultimately ensure that all these children received sufficient protection.  

Follow-up Question from the Expert

An Expert reacted vigorously to what had been said about the death penalty, and underlined that, as a human rights body, the Committee considered capital punishment as unjustifiable. 

Concluding Remarks

BENYAM MEZMUR, Committee Member and Rapporteur for the report of Tanzania, in concluding remarks welcomed that Tanzania had decided to be represented at a high level during this dialogue.  The purpose of the dialogue was to exchange ideas and information, but also to identify areas where work remained to be done and ensure that progress was made in the right direction and as quickly as possible.  Mr. Mezmur welcomed that Tanzania had adopted new laws and a new Constitution that would empower children and increase the culture of human rights in the country.  Other non-legislative developments, including announcements about free tuition for schools, also went in the right direction.  But at the end of the day, assessment had to be carried out on implementation, which remained insufficient in Tanzania.  Violence against children remained a big issue in Tanzania, and the Government seemed to have acknowledged this.  Mr. Mezmur underlined that the budget increment for child issues seemed not to be enough in light of the evolution of the population.  He then reiterated the Committee’s concerns with regards to discrimination against pregnant girls, birth registration and corporal punishment.  The Rapporteur highlighted some questions that had been raised about health, education and juvenile justice. 

HIRANTHI WIJEMANNE, Committee Member and Rapporteur for the report of Tanzania, said that families and communities, in light of the crucial role they played in child development, all needed to get engaged and involved in the implementation of the Convention. 

PINDI HAZARA CHANA, Deputy Minister of Community Development, Gender and Children of Tanzania, reiterated her Government’s commitment to protecting the rights of the child and to collaborating with the Committee.  Tanzania was determined to review and improve areas where gaps remained, and would give due consideration to the recommendations of the Committee. 

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