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Committee on the Rights of the Child considers the report of Peru

GENEVA (15 January 2016) - The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its consideration of the fourth and fifth periodic report of Peru on its implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as its initial reports on the implementation of the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and on the involvement of children in armed conflict. 

Introducing the report, Aldo Alejandro Vasquez Rios, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Peru, said that Peru had ratified in 2015 the third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure, and had recently adopted a law prohibiting corporal punishment.  The National Plan of Action for Childhood and Adolescence 2012-2021 was the main instrument for the coordination of all childhood-related policies, and was implemented by the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations through constant monitoring and  evaluation.  The combined reports contained figures and statistics on the implementation of those policies.  Peru was committed to implementing the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography through public awareness initiatives and measures to better combat those crimes, and to protecting the victims and ensuring their rehabilitation.  Similarly, initiatives had been taken to ensure the rehabilitation of children that had been recruited by terrorist groups.      

Committee Experts raised a number of questions regarding the allocation of resources to childhood-related issues, expressing concerns that investments on such public policies had decreased over the past years.  Concerns were also raised on allegations of sexual exploitation in relation to mining activities, as well as their impact on health and the environment.  Stigmatization and discrimination against indigenous persons were also brought to the attention of the delegation, particularly regarding birth registration and access to health and education services.  The criminalization of abortion remained a matter of great concern as well.  Other issues raised by Committee Experts pertained to children in detention facilities, malnutrition, street children and the implementation of the recent prohibition of corporal punishment. 

On the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, Experts noted the importance of coordinated efforts and awareness raising for the prevention of the recruitment of children.  They welcomed laws that prohibited the recruitment of children, and asked whether efforts by the Peruvian authorities also applied to non-State actors and private military and security companies. 

Turning to issues related to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Experts also noted the importance of coordination and dissemination.  They asked whether Peru’s legislation explicitly addressed all the crimes covered in the Optional Protocol, and encouraged further efforts for prevention, and the protection and rehabilitation of victims. 

In concluding remarks, Sara de Jesus Oviedo Fierro, Member of the Committee and Rapporteur for Peru, expressed the hope that recommendations formulated by the Committee on the Rights of the Child would be transferred after the new administration was appointed, and hoped that the authorities of Peru would continue their collaboration with the Committee.

Mr. Vasquez Rios, in his concluding remarks, reiterated Peru’s full commitment to the defence of the rights of children and adolescents.  After the current administration would conclude its term in July 2016, subsequent administrations would surely continue to give due consideration to the recommendations of the Committee.  

Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Chairperson of the Committee, concluded the meeting by welcoming Peru’s commitment to the rights of the child, as well as its recent ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure. 

The delegation of Peru included representatives of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations, the Ministry of Health and the Permanent Mission of Peru to the United Nations Office at Geneva. 

The Committee will next meet in public on Tuesday, 19 January to start, in Chamber A, the consideration of the second periodic report of Zimbabwe (CRC/C/ZWE/2) under the Convention.   In Chamber B, it will consider the combined fourth and fifth periodic report of Maldives (CRC/C/MDV/4-5) under the Convention.  

Reports

The combined fourth and fifth periodic report of Peru under the Convention can be read via the following link: CRC/C/PER/4-5.  The initial report of Peru under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography can be read via the following link: CRC/C/OPSC/PER/1.   The initial report of Peru under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict can be read here: CRC/C/OPAC/PER/1

Presentation of the Reports

ALDO ALEJANDRO VASQUEZ RIOS, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Peru, introducing the reports, said that Peru was committed to the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols.  Peru had been actively involved in the drafting of those texts, and was equally committed to protecting the rights of the children of Peru.  As an example of its commitment, Peru had ratified in 2015 the third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure.  A law published in December 2015 prohibited corporal punishment.  The periodic reports before the Committee today provided an opportunity for Peru to present progress achieved, and to assess the effectiveness of protection measures and policies in the field of health, education and other sectors.  The initial report on the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography analysed measures taken to combat those serious crimes.  The initial report on the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict listed efforts to promote a culture of peace and remove boys and girls from those situations, which violated their rights.

The reports also contained a series of measures to combat discrimination and negative stereotypes.  Among them, the National Plan for Rights Education contained elements relating to the principle of non-discrimination, citizenship and a culture of peace.  The Government had created a National Commission against Discrimination, as well as a Platform against Discrimination, which facilitated the coordination of policies and efforts on that matter.  The platform dealt with discrimination on various grounds, including sex and gender, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation.  On its part, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights had since 2007 developed a National Programme for Legal Education for Social Inclusion.  The National Plan of Action for Childhood and Adolescence 2012-2021 was the main instrument for the coordination of all childhood-related policies, and was implemented by the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations through constant monitoring and  evaluation.  The combined reports contained figures and statistics on the implementation of those policies. 

Peru was committed to implementing the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography through public awareness initiatives and measures to better combat those crimes, and protecting the victims and ensuring their rehabilitation.  Similarly, initiatives had been taken to ensure the rehabilitation of children that had been recruited by terrorist groups.      

Questions by the Committee Experts

JORGE CARDONA LLORENS, Member of the Committee and Rapporteur for Peru, commended Peru for its ratification of the third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure, as well as its progress in strengthening access to health.  With regards to legislation in Peru, he noted that many texts tackling various issues still needed to be amended.  The law on begging, for example, was still in force although the Committee had recommended that Peru to repeal it.  A similar remark was made regarding the criminalization of gangs.  Concerning resources, investments in childhood activities fell short compared to investments in other areas, he noted.  What would the Government do to ensure that children were not affected by budgetary cuts?  Locally, the implementation of budget allocations remained problematic, particularly as a result of corruption. 

Laws on the environmental impact of mining activities could be bypassed, he regretted.  Furthermore, there had been cases of sexual exploitation and forced labour of children in relation to those activities.  How were the needs of indigenous peoples taken into account when developing hydro-electrical projects?  Mr. Cardona Llorens then referred to cases of early marriages in Peru, and asked whether measures were in place to address that issue.  On discrimination, he pointed at practices that discriminated against indigenous persons and their living conditions.  Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children also suffered from discrimination and bullying, which had in some cases led to suicides.  Had measures been put into place in response to those issues? 

Moving on, Mr. Cardona Llorens asked what the Government was planning to ensure that the best interest of the child was duly taken into account, in accordance with international standards.  With regard to the right to life, he noted that Peru still had the death penalty in law, and asked whether measures would be taken to ensure that it would never be applied against minors.  Finally, he asked whether the Government had taken measures to address the high rate of suicide among young people. 

SARA DE JESUS OVIEDO FIERRO, Member of the Committee and Rapporteur for Peru, commended the progress achieved by Peru, but noted that challenges remained on several issues.  With regard to the institutional framework, she asked what body was coordinating all the  steps and actions relating to children and adolescents.  She encouraged Peru to establish a Ministry charged with children-related issues, rather than having only a directorate, in order to raise awareness on those issues and to better carry out coordination worked required.  On trafficking, she noted that the  public defender was charged with such cases but was concerned at the lack of funding of that institution.   She also regretted the lack of resources allocated to the implementation of the National Plan of Action for Childhood and Adolescence, as well as the lack of disaggregated data. 

Continuing, she referred to complaints about the lack of cooperation of the government with civil society representatives, resulting in the voice of children not being heard as it should be.  Although progress had been made in strengthening the participation of children in public areas, it was concerning that parents remained responsible for allowing such participation.  On freedom of expression, she asked for information concerning the death of adolescents during protests against mining activities.  What was the Government doing to combat negative stereotypes in the media?     

MARIA RITA PARSI, Member of the Committee and Rapporteur for Peru, expressed concerns about violence against children and domestic violence not being criminalized in the penal code.  She was also concerned about abortion being criminalized, while emergency contraception remained prohibited.  She asked about measures to allow abortions in cases of rape or pregnancies that endangered health.  The Expert inquired about the prohibition of corporal punishment, as well as about measures to combat bullying, including at school.  Sexual violence continued on a broad scale, she noted.  Would the Government implement a system to ensure that children could file complaints directly instead of through adults?  She asked whether children were involved in measures taken to prevent violence against them, and what measures had been taken to further address the culture of violence in Peru.  How many care centres existed in Peru to address the needs of child victims of violence?  Had staff working in such centres been trained on child-related issues?

Another Expert asked whether children had the possibility to file complaints to the Office of the Ombudsman without the presence of an adult. 

Response from the Delegation

There had been a constant growth of budget allocations to children-related issues over the last few years.  In response to concerns pertaining to corruption, the Government had adopted measures to counter that scourge, including a mechanism designed to allow for more transparency on spending of the Government’s procurements, as well as measures to raise awareness on the need to address the issue of corruption. 

Congress had recently adopted a law declaring that it was of national interest that the country allocated proper resources to the implementation of the National Plan for Childhood and Adolescence.  In situations of recession or slowing down of economic growth, priority would always be given to children and adolescents. 

The Ombudsman Office for Childhood and Adolescence had a field presence in nine out of the ten districts in Peru.  Eighteen regional plans of action for youth and adolescents were prepared with the technical assistance of the Ministry for Women and Vulnerable Groups, with a view to implement the National Plan of Action at the local level. 

Regarding the institutional framework, the delegation informed that the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights was in charge of all human rights questions.  The questions related to the rights of the child, however, were dealt with by a collegiate technical secretariat that brought together representatives of different institutions.  The mandate of that organ was to follow-up, monitor and coordinate policies related to children and adolescents. 

The Government followed mining activities very closely, the delegation noted.  Actions had been taken to avoid any illegal activities and to ensure the protection of minors from child labour.  There were pilot projects in rural areas that combined education and awareness-raising activities, with promising results in terms of reducing the level of child labour. 

On social movements and freedom of expression of adolescents, a delegate said that freedom of assembly was not criminalized in Peru.  What was sanctioned was damage to public property.  He also stressed that the activities of non-governmental organizations were not obstructed. 

On the right to life, the Constitution of Peru still reserved the application of the death penalty in cases of treason or terrorism.  In no case could the death penalty be applied to minors. 

Peru had been working hand in hand with the health and education sectors to address violence against children.  A strategy for prevention had been adopted to combat bullying, along with awareness-raising campaigns in partnership with schools and the private sector.  Peru had adopted norms that criminalized, prohibited and punished corporal punishment.  Those norms would be implemented in the forthcoming months.  A National Programme against Domestic and Sexual Violence provided healthcare services, emergency hotlines, and centres where children could come and speak out against such violence. 

The Government had made efforts to improve access to health services, with a focus on vulnerable groups.  A 2013 reform strengthened access to protection, the provision of more diversified services, and the creation of a competent specialized unit with the Government to deal with those issues.  There was a 3.5 per cent expenditure in the funding of health services.  In 2015, over 80 per cent of the population in Peru had health insurance, with every new born child being automatically registered with that insurance. 

Family planning by the Health Ministry had specific dimensions targeting adolescents.  The Constitutional Court had banned the morning after pill as a result of its abortive effect.  Alternative pills were made available, ensuring therefore that persons at risk had access to contraceptives. 

In 2014, standardized procedures were adopted for therapeutic abortions.  The greatest obstacle was the communication that healthcare professionals had to make before undertaking such surgery.  As a result, not all therapeutic abortions were recorded as such.  Laws and the criminal code criminalized abortion except for therapeutic reasons.  A bill was being debated in order to amend the criminal code and make abortion legal in the case of rape. 

Peru had the highest standards of protection of indigenous persons, and was the only country that had a law on consultations, underpinning the process of dialogue with indigenous persons.   Challenges remained when no agreement could be reached at the end of consultations, leading to the State having to make a decision.  Resources belonged to the entire population of the country, and suspending projects would sometimes lead to discrimination against the rest of the population of Peru. 

Questions by Experts

In the second round of questions, a Committee Expert expressed concerns that only half of children with disabilities were enrolled in schools, and that, although the law provided for inclusive education, facilities and education personnel were not equipped, prepared or trained. 

On health issues, Peru was welcomed for its efforts to reduce infant mortality rates, and encouraged to further its efforts to reduce neo-natal mortality.  Although malnutrition had been reduced, challenges remained in terms of geographical distribution of those efforts, with some parts of the country having higher numbers of cases of anaemia. 

Experts were concerned about the high level of drug abuse among adolescents and asked for measures to be taken to address that issue.  Experts asked what policies were in place regarding breastfeeding, and whether the Government was considering extending access to free contraceptives. 

Turning to the criminal justice system, Experts expressed concerns about overcrowding in prisons, and requested information on children in detention facilities.  Experts were concerned that Peru had increased criminal sanctions against children, despite only three per cent of crimes being perpetrated by minors, which had not improved the situation.  Experts were concerned about the institutionalization and pre-emptive incarceration of children. 

More than 800,000 children between the age of six and 13 were subjected to child labour, which constituted a huge problem that required proactive policies from the Government. 

Experts underlined the importance of foster care and asked whether Peru was taking measures to promote alternatives to institutionalization.  What programmes had been implemented to strengthen social inclusion for children leaving institutions? 

On education, a Committee member asked what measures were being taken to guarantee free and quality education and to prevent social and geographical segregation, particularly in light of the growing number of private schools.

An Expert asked whether restrictions were in place to ensure that children did not have access to bull-fighting

Finally, an Expert referred to past allegations of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic Church, and asked what measures would be taken in reaction to those allegations. 

Response from the Delegation

Going back to resources allocated to children and adolescents, a delegate said that the increase of expenditure for children had been considerably higher than the increase of the general budget of Peru over the past years. 

Turning to measures aimed at correcting the environmental impact of mining activities, the delegation recalled that Peru was one of the few countries to ratify the Minamata Convention on Mercury, and explained that the Government had undertaken research to implement environmental-friendly mining activities, in line with standards set by the World Health Organization. 

The Child Unit of the Office of the Ombudsman continued to function with ordinary resources allocated from the general budget of Peru and from donations and transfers.  That unit would have its budget increased in 2016. 

On the use of the internet, a delegate said that computers in schools were equipped with filters to prevent access by children to content that could be harmful to them. 

As part of the education reform, the Government had focused on priority areas of actions, including on addressing the gaps in terms of access and improving the training of teachers.  Investments in the teaching sectors had led to grants and bonuses being offered to teachers based on merit.  Measures had been taken to encourage teachers to set base in rural areas.  Primary and secondary schools had also received comprehensive support.  New initiatives had been launched to promote the teaching of the English language and of information and communication technologies.  The education reform had been backed by an unprecedented increase of budget allocation, from 2.9 per cent of the gross domestic product in 2007 to 4.1 per cent in 2016. 

Unregistered children amounted to as few as two per cent of minors in Peru.  A national programme had been adopted to close the gaps and address that issue, with the creation of further registration facilities throughout the territory.  For many years now, Peru had been promoting the automation of the civil registry offices.  Peru was also promoting online registration.  Further, the National Identification Registry School had trained over 10,000 civil registers nationally for the issuance of birth certificates.  

Peru had adopted a set of laws aimed at protecting children from violence, including texts focused on sexual harassment in public places and on domestic violence. 

On the issue of children in detention facilities, a delegate said that overcrowding in prisons was a challenge for Peru, but the situation in detention facilities for women was better than that of facilities for men.  Children were authorized to stay with their detained mothers until the age of three.  Early education services were being provided in prisons for children of that age.  A normative instrument was being certified and would guide what needed to be done when those children left their mothers at the age of three. 

Follow-up Questions by the Experts

On the increase of the budget for childhood issues, an Expert noted that there had been a drop in public spending in 2014 and expressed concern that expenditure would continue to drop. 

An Expert reiterated his questions on measures taken to protect children from exploitation in the context of mining activities. 

An Expert asked what was the percentage of registration for children born in indigenous families. 

To avoid the situation of children living in detention, Experts asked whether Peru was considering the implementation of alternative measures to detention for pregnant women and for juvenile offenders.  Another Committee member asked what happened to the relationship between children and their mother after they left detention facilities at the age of three.  On juvenile justice, an Expert asked what standards were in place in terms of pre-trial detention.  

Experts welcomed the adoption of a law prohibiting corporal punishment, and asked whether plans and programmes would be adopted to raise awareness on that issue and to ensure the implementation of that prohibition in practice. 

On negative stereotypes in the media, Experts were concerned that many indigenous languages were not used to broadcast information. 

What was being done to prevent teenage pregnancies

Experts reiterated their concerns at the high number of street children, and allegations of police brutality against them. 

Response from the Delegation

The Begging Law had not been nullified so far, but the State had created a programme designed to care for boys and girls working or living in the street.  That programme was human rights-based, and had an advisory component.  Its aim was to support families and to make sure that these children went back to school.  It was developed in 24 towns, and contained leisure and recreational components.  Begging was almost always the result of exploitation by adults, a delegate said.  The programme therefore contained a dimension aimed at identifying and prosecuting the perpetrators. 

Peru had made huge efforts to bring services to indigenous  and rural populations.  Sustainability measures had been adopted for supporting populations in the Amazon region, including through providing access to health and registration.   A multi-sectorial commission for the promotion of education for rural girls had also been established to consider the implementation of legal provisions relating to gender equality in education.  The greatest impact of registration policies had been better access to healthcare and education services. 

In addition to policies and programmes, decentralized services existed throughout the country that provided support and care for victims of trafficking.  Their comprehensive protection included immediate intervention to allow for the recovery of the children. 

On early marriages, the law stipulated that the minimum age for marrying was 18.  Children could marry as early as the age of 17 with the authorization of parents.   The National Programme against Domestic and Sexual Violence allowed the State to tackle cases of early and forced marriage. 

The children and adolescents code ensured the participation of children and adolescents in all processes that affected them.  The Government had thus conducted consultations at the national and local levels.  Children’s representatives had participated in the drafting of the National Plan for Children and Adolescents and of the law banning corporal punishment. 

In 2015, the Ministry of Health had adopted measures to facilitate the certification of children with disabilities.  The Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion ensured that disability was considered as a cross-cutting issue.  Peru had developed an inclusive policy for persons with disabilities.  The enrolment of children with disabilities in specialized schools had increased in recent years. 

The enrolment rate in primary school was at 95 per cent, and continued to rise. 

The vaccination calendar in the country had 15 different shots, the delegation said.   Coverage of basic vaccination had increased over the past years, including in rural areas.  The 2014 Peruvian medical strike had affected the coverage and led to a drop in vaccinations.  Some regional governments had also been reluctant to provide vaccination to children. 

There was a drug prevention programme in the education sphere, the delegation said, which included early warning and timely prevention mechanisms, and which had led to increased numbers of boys, girls and adolescents being taken care of. 

The suicide rate in Peru, although it was declining, continued to be a problem of national health.  Programmes focusing on mental health had been implemented over the past years, with early detection mechanisms in schools. 

The Ministry for Health was working on the prevention of HIV/ AIDS contamination through measures targeting sex workers and raising awareness among the population.  Measures had also been taken to prevent mother-to-child-transmission. 

Chronic malnutrition for children had been reduced, leading to Peru meeting its Millennium Development Goal in that area.  Cases of anaemia had also been reduced, including through measures targeting the most affected areas.  Specific resources had been allocated to the promotion of breastfeeding. 

On the budget, the delegation underscored once again the enormous increase in expenditure related to children and adolescents.  A delegate pointed out the commitment of the Peruvian State to those issues, demonstrating strong political will to continue investing on childhood.  The projective growth of the Peruvian economy continued to be favourable, allowing for continued expenditure on the matter in the near future. 

On children in detention facilities, a delegate said that 199 children under three were present in prisons with their mothers.  Peru had considered alternatives to detention, and was currently developing a new system of ankle bracelets, which would be implemented in 2016.  Other alternative measures had been established in 2004 to prevent the incarceration of children, including probation, community service and economic sanctions. 

There were 145 courts specialized in family and youth matters.  Specific training was provided to judges of those courts on childhood issues and juvenile justice.  The length of time that minors could be detained had been extended, a delegate said. 

The recently-published law prohibiting corporal punishment demonstrated the commitment of Peru to eradicate violence in the family unit.  There was a process underway to allow for the implementation of its dispositions. 

The Prosecutor’s Office was currently investigating allegations of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic Church. 

The Ministry of Health actively sought the participation of children and adolescents for decisions affecting them, including through consultations in Lima and other parts of Peru, and encouraged the establishment of youth councils. 

The Government was involved in an ongoing process with remote and rural populations, including indigenous peoples, to increase their access to education.  The State had always had difficulties in reaching those areas, including owing to the lack of resources, though progress was being made.  The challenge of preparing trainers was enormous.  Some indigenous peoples preferred not to receive education in their native language in fear of that perpetrating exclusion. 

Turning to the matter of stereotypes in the media, television networks had cancelled programmes that were considered offensive against indigenous peoples and persons of African descent. 

The law protecting animals from mistreatment did not prohibit bull-fighting, the delegation said.  Vivid debates existed on that issue.  Bull-fighting was considered a tradition, and parents might want to pass it on to their children. 

Questions by the Experts on the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict

JORGE CARDONA LLORENS, Member of the Committee and Rapporteur for Peru, asked whether Peru had established a special body charged with coordinating the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.  He also requested information regarding awareness-raising activities targeting children and other parts of the population.  Further, he asked which professionals received specific training on the Protocol, and whether Peru had a mechanism to systematically gather data on its implementation.  He welcomed the legal prohibition of the recruitment of children by the State’s armed forces, and asked whether such recruitment by non-State actors and private military and security companies had been criminalized as well.  Was the recruitment of children under 18 considered a war crime in Peruvian law?  How many prosecutions had been carried out on the recruitment of children by the State and non-State actors?  Finally, Mr. Cardona Llorens asked whether Peru was applying extraterritorial jurisdiction for cases relating to the involvement of children in armed conflicts. 

MARIA RITA PARSI, Member of the Committee and Rapporteur for Peru, also welcomed the prohibition of the recruitment of children by the Peruvian military forces, as well as the adoption of a law that punished the use of a child in terrorist activities.  She then asked how the Government had strengthened the verification process for the age of children who were recruited in the military.  The National Plan of Action for Children and Adolescents  had set the target to eradicate the involvement of children in armed conflict by 2021, she noted.  How would Peru achieve that goal?  How many children had been rescued?  Were there prevention, demobilization and rehabilitation policies?  Continuing, she regretted that the definition of “terrorism” in the Peruvian criminal code was problematic, and was sometimes misused to restrict legitimate protests.  How did law-enforcement personnel act to ensure that legitimate demonstrators were not confused with terrorists? 

SARA DE JESUS OVIEDO FIERRO, Member of the Committee and Rapporteur for Peru, asked why Peru was so late in submitting its initial report?

An Expert asked whether measures had been taken to identify migrant children that had been directly or indirectly affected by armed conflicts, and whether anything was done to provide them support and assistance. 

Response from the Delegation

Although isolated conflict situations remained in some parts of Peru, cases relating to the involvement of children in armed groups remained rare, and the Ombudsman Office had not received any such allegations. 

The Ministry of Defence had the primary responsibility to ensure that no children were enrolled in the armed forces and was charged with the coordination of the implementation of the Optional Protocol. 

The Ministry was in charge of drafting the law on military service, which in Peru was voluntary and accessible to persons over 18 only.  A series of schools under the authority of the Ministry of Defence were for children of military personnel, and did not include military trainings  Three secondary schools in Peru provided military discipline, but did not include training on the use of lethal weapons.  In no cases were those students part of the military forces.  Verification mechanisms relied on the national identification registry, which covered almost all Peruvians.  There had been no cases of individuals below 18 being discovered after joining the armed forces. 

The inclusion in hostilities of soldiers who were less than 18 years of age was absolutely prohibited in law.  The recruitment of children was not a stand-alone crime in the penal code, although some amendments might change that.  In light of the rarity of those cases, the population had not made such a demand. 

The recruitment of minors for the perpetration of acts of terrorism was punishable by sentences of deprivation of liberty for a minimum of 20 years.  The perpetration of terrorist acts, with the involvement of children, was punishable by a deprivation of liberty for a minimum of 30 years. 

The Government had no statistics regarding the recruitment of children by non-State actors, as such cases would generally be dealt with as abductions. 

There had been various activities to rehabilitate children recruited by armed groups, conducted with the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations Children’s Fund, including the provision of medical care, psychological support and shelter.  Some boys and girls had been transferred to other facilities and benefited from witness protection schemes; 33 youngsters had been recovered in 2015. 

In Peru, only a small number of people – mostly Haitians – had refugee status, making it unlikely that some of them might be child victims of armed conflict.  Two cases of unaccompanied minors seeking refugee status had been recorded. 

The Protocol was broadly incorporated through domestic legislation.  In the case of legislative gaps, its provisions could be directly invoked before the domestic courts.  On extraterritoriality, the mere fact of having signed the Optional Protocol allowed for that protocol to be invoked in extradition requests. 

The armed forces could in theory intervene to support the work of the national police forces after express authorization by the President, but that had not happened in Peru.  There was no State repression of protests, nor excessive use of force in that context.  If that were to be the case, the delegation said, every abuse would be investigated and prosecuted in line with international law. 

Peru had been waiting for its domestic law to be in line with the Optional Protocols before submitting its initial reports, which explained why there had been such delays. 

Questions by the Experts on the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
 
SARA DE JESUS OVIEDO FIERRO, Member of the Committee and Rapporteur for Peru, asked whether Peru had established a coordinating body to ensure that all efforts to combat crimes under the Optional Protocol were unified.  She asked whether all crimes covered by the Optional Protocol were explicitly criminalized and subjected to data-collection activities.  Continuing, she underlined the importance of dissemination and awareness-raising campaigns on the provisions of the Optional Protocol and asked what activities had been conducted in that regard.  Finally, she inquired about the existence of an ethics code for private enterprises, its legal status and whether prosecutions had been conducted based on it. 

MARIA RITA PARSI, Member of the Committee and Rapporteur for Peru, reiterated the Committee’s concerns regarding trafficking and sexual exploitation of children in the context of mining activities.  She also asked about programmes to specifically prevent sexual tourism, and whether free, legal and technical aid was provided to victims of trafficking.  Would the budget be strengthened to improve the protection of victims?  Finally, she expressed concerns about allegations of corruption of judges, receiving bribes from traffickers. 

Other Experts raised questions about the criminal responsibility of legal persons, extraterritorial jurisdiction and the double jeopardy requirement. 

Response from the Delegation

Peru had established a large set of legal instruments that allowed the State to combat crimes covered by that Protocol.  A National Policy on Trafficking involved all concerned sectors, such as the justice sector and other stakeholders.  A National Council, chaired by the Minister for Justice and Human Rights, was in charge of coordinating that policy.  The National Plan to Combat Trafficking allowed the State to conduct operations in that sector. 

The Government had set up a permanent multi-sectoral group to combat trafficking, with a technical secretariat residing with the Foreign Affairs Ministry.  The budget allocated to the National Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking had been increased in 2014 and 2015. 

Policies to combat trafficking focused on prevention, protection and support provided to the victims, as well as recovery and rehabilitation.  Several residential care centres were in place to provide shelter and support to the victims.  Measures would be taken to strengthen the training of personnel working in those centres.    

Services provided specific protection to child victims of trafficking or exploitation.  As of 2003, the recovery of children occurred using a protection mechanism that sought to evaluate risk factors relevant to children in a family.  A new approach focused not only on prosecuting perpetrators, but also triggered other services for the protection of child victims.  There was no registry of victims of sexual exploitation yet.

The Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations had created a sub-commission to tackle sexual exploitation at the local level.  

Steps had been taken to strengthen prevention aspects.  Transport companies, for example, had been encouraged to strengthen their controls over travelling children’s documentation in order to prevent illegal transfers of children. 

The Government was working in a coordinated manner to prevent sex tourism, including through awareness-raising campaigns conducted with hotels in touristic locations. 

Follow-up Questions by Experts

An Expert welcomed the mechanisms put in place to tackle trafficking in general, but regretted the lack of specific measures to address the issue of child trafficking separately. 

The delegation was asked to present regional agreements signed by Peru to combat transnational crime in cooperation with neighbouring countries. 

A Committee member underlined the importance of coordination between the police and prosecutors, and asked about initiatives undertaken by Peru in that regard. 

Was the sale of children a stand-alone crime different from trafficking?

Would the upcoming reform of the criminal code provide for the criminal responsibility of legal persons?

Response from the Delegation

Coordination between the prosecutor’s office and the police happened on an ongoing basis, including in the field of intelligence. 

Awareness-raising activities conducted with the population had led to a better and more timely response to cases of abuses perpetrated against children.  In 2015, the main objective had been to disseminate more knowledge on trafficking amongst healthcare workers and other people.  More than a thousand girls and adolescents had been trained in 2015 on the health impact of trafficking.  Other campaigns had focused on the training of educational staff. 

Victims of sexual abuse were immediately taken into the healthcare system, where physical and mental health services were provided to them.  Healthcare teams had been trained to provide assistance to victims of trafficking, including in regional outposts.  In 2014, a mental health campaign had been started in the Madre de Dios region, where most cases of exploitation occurred. 

Congress was currently debating the possible adoption of a new penal code, with the criminal responsibility of legal entities being one of the items under discussion.  Nothing had been decided yet on that issue.  Discussions on that issue so far mostly covered the crime of bribery.  Although the criminal responsibility of legal entities was not provided in the Peruvian law, accountability was ensured as perpetrators, including persons acting in the capacity of a legal entity, would be prosecuted individually. 

Concluding Remarks

SARA DE JESUS OVIEDO FIERRO, Member of the Committee and Rapporteur for Peru, congratulated Peru for its collaboration and constructiveness, as well as for its efforts and commitment to improve the well-being of children and adolescents.  Protecting children’s rights was one of the most important obligations of States.  She expressed the hope that recommendations formulated by the Committee on the Rights of the Child would be transferred to the new Government to be appointed, and hoped that the authorities of Peru would continue their collaboration with the Committee.

ALDO ALEJANDRO VASQUEZ RIOS, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Peru, thanked Committee members for the constructive dialogue they held with the delegation of Peru.  He reiterated Peru’s full commitment to the defence of the rights of children and adolescents.  After the current administration would conclude its term in July 2016, subsequent administrations would surely continue to give due consideration to the recommendations of the Committee.  

BENYAM DAWIT MEZMUR, Chairperson of the Committee, concluded the meeting by welcoming Peru’s commitment to the rights of the child, as well as its recent ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure. 

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