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Committee on the Rights of the Child reviews reports of Tajikistan

Committee on the Rights of the Child   

  14 September 2017

The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its consideration of the combined third to fifth periodic report of Tajikistan under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and its initial reports under two Optional Protocols to the Convention, on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

Introducing the reports, Rustam Shohmurod, Minister of Justice of Tajikistan, explained the institutional architecture for the protection of the rights of the child in which the Commission on the Rights of the Child, set up in 2008, held a central place.  Similar commissions had been set up in all cities and regions, while a department for the protection of children’s rights has been set up in the Executive Office of the President to ensure inter-regional and inter-departmental coordination.  The Ombudsman for Children had been established in 2015 to ensure sanctions and remedies for the rights violations; its Strategy 2018-2020 had been adopted with the assistance of the United Nations Children’s Fund.  A special unit dealing with the juvenile offenders had been created in the Ministry of Internal Affairs with the aim of preventing violation of children rights.  Other achievements included the adoption of the Law on the Protection of Children’s Rights had been adopted, the raising of the age of marriage from 17 to 18 years, and the adoption of the State Programme for the Prevention of Domestic in 2014 under which social and legal assistance to victims of violence was being provided.  The education coverage stood at 99 per cent, while a significant decline in child and maternal mortality rates had been achieved over the past five years.

In the ensuing discussion, Committee Experts commended the recent legislative improvements in Tajikistan and recognized the steady increase in the allocation of resources to the education and health sectors, and asked for data showing a positive impact of such measures on the wellbeing of children.  They were concerned about the lack of data and statistics in several key areas, and wondered whether the absence of complaints to the Ombudsman for Children was an indicator that children were unaware of the existence of this institution.  Experts were concerned that the number of children in institutional care was not decreasing – currently over 10,000 children were in such institutions – and they wondered about the monitoring of their wellbeing and the complaint system in place to enable them to report rights violations.  The delegation was asked about the efforts to include children with disabilities in everyday life and provide them with the same rights as other citizens, particularly those children living in institutions.  Other issues raised in the discussion included the discrimination and exclusion of children from vulnerable groups, the situation of children living with HIV/AIDS, birth registration in remote areas, child labour including in its worst forms, infant mortality, and malnutrition and child poverty.

On the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, questions were asked if the Protocol was integrated in the national legislation, about the institution in charge of the implementation of its provisions, and the body in charge of coordination.  It was noted that not all offenses enumerated under the Optional Protocol had been criminalized.

Concerning the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, Experts were concerned whether, under the law, a person under the age of 18 could use a weapon an engage in an armed conflict.  Questions were asked on reintegration of persons returning from foreign conflict zones, extradition and extraterritorial competence, dissemination of the Optional Protocol and treatment of victims of anti-personal landmines.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Shohmurod, expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the Committee Experts for their constructive contribution and said that the dialogue was complex but also instrumental in mapping out further challenges and guidelines in promoting the rights of the child.

Amal Salman Aldoseri, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Tajikistan, urged Tajikistan to ratify the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The delegation of Tajikistan included representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Statistical Agency under the President of the Republic, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Social Protection, and the Permanent Mission of Tajikistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva. 

The Ombudsman for Children of Tajikistan attended the meeting as an independent expert.

The States’ reports and other documentation can be found on the session’s webpage.

Live webcast of the Committee’s public meetings is available at http://webtv.un.org/

The Committee will next meet in public on Friday, 15 September at 10 a.m. when it will review the fifth periodic report of Denmark (CRC/C/DNK/5).

Reports

The Committee is considering the combined third to fifth periodic report of Tajikistan under the Convention (CRC/C/TJK/3-5), and its initial reports under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (CRC/C/OPSC/TJK/1), and under the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict (CRC/C/OPAC/TJK/1).

Presentation of the Report

RUSTAM SHOHMUROD, Minister of Justice of Tajikistan, recalled that Tajikistan had acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols, on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and on the involvement of children in armed conflict in 2002 and said that the special protection of the children was assured under the Article 34 of the Constitution.  Since 2008, the Commission on the Rights of the Child was in charge of protecting the rights and interests of children; similar commissions had been set up in all cities and regions, while a department for the protection of children’s rights has been established in the Executive Office of the President to ensure inter-regional and inter-departmental coordination.

Under the President’s initiative, the Ombudsman for Children had been set up in 2015 to ensure that violations of children’s rights were adequately sanctioned and remedied.  The Strategy for Ombudsman 2018-2020 had been adopted with the assistance of the United Nations Children’s Fund.  A special unit dealing with the juvenile offenders had been created in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, said the Minister, noting that the juvenile offenders were only held in custody for particularly grave offences.  Throughout the Criminal Code, there was a particular consideration for victims of juvenile crimes while alternatives to detention of juveniles were being considered in the new draft of the Criminal Code.  The National Action Plan for Juvenile Justice aimed at improving the system and required the presence of a legal representative and a psychologist all times.  Juvenile offenders rehabilitation centre had been established and children prisons did not exist.

According to the Statistics Agency, the population of Tajikistan numbered 8.9 million and included 3.5 million children under the age of 18: 1.1 million under the age of four, 2.1 million aged 5-15 years, and 361,000 aged 16 to 18 years.  The Law on the Protection of Children’s Rights had been adopted to fulfil the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.  Particular measures were being taken to identify children without parental care and the regulations had been drafted to make the benefits available to orphans and children without parental care.  The age of marriage had been increased from 17 to 18 years and the Criminal Code sanctioned those entering a marriage with minors.  The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act had been adopted pursuant to the Committee’s recommendations and 18 crisis centres had been established.  The  State Programme for the Prevention of Domestic Violence was adopted in 2014, providing social and legal assistance to victims of violence.

On the matter of education, the new Education Act had been adopted in 2013 which prioritised inclusive education.  There were 2.25 million students and nearly 4,000 educational institutions in the country, and the education coverage stood at 99 per cent.  Child labour was a particular concern for the Government and many programmes had been implemented to eliminate it under the 2015-2020 National Programme to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour.  Tajikistan accorded great importance to child and maternal health, including in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, and had adopted in 2017 a health code which contained special provisions for health care of children.  During the reporting period, Tajikistan had implemented the HIV/AIDS Prevention Programme 2011-2015 and the National Child and Adolescent Health Strategy to 2015, developed in cooperation with the World Health Organization.  As a result of active measures taken by the Government over the past five years, child and maternal mortality rates had significantly declined.  In closing, Mr. Shohmurod reiterated the commitment of Tajikistan to the proper implementation of its international commitments in the area of the rights of the child and its readiness to engage in the international cooperation in this regard.

Consideration of the Report under the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Questions from the Experts

AMAL SALMAN ALDOSERI, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Tajikistan, praised the country for the recent legislative improvements, including the new Law on Child Protection and the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act and asked about a general review of the impact that laws had on the wellbeing of children.  Were the laws in conformity with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and which mechanisms were in place to enforce the legislation?

Concerning the allocation of resources, there was a steady increase in the education and health sectors, but the services had not improved.  Was there a tracking system to monitor the expenditure and its impact?

Was there a comprehensive political framework for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child across the different sectors of the Government?

A comprehensive data collection mechanism was missing, noted Ms. Aldoseri and asked the delegation to provide an update since the lack of disaggregated data was prominent in all sectors.

The establishment of the Ombudsman was commendable, but were the children aware of the existence of such institution, could they easily access the Ombudsman and file complaints?

The new National Development Strategy envisaged the transformation of Tajikistan from an agrarian to the industrial economy.  What measures were being taken to safeguard the rights of children in such an economy and protect them from exploitation?

While the age of marriage had been raised from 17 to 18, there were exceptions when marriage was allowed at the age of 17.  Was there a list of those exceptions?

What training and awareness raising activities were being planned for religious leaders?

Was there the statistics on torture and ill-treatment of juveniles, which monitoring mechanisms existed to prevent inhuman treatment in juvenile detention facilities and was the prohibition of solitary confinement of juveniles being considered?

RENATE WINTER, Committee Chairperson and Rapporteur for Tajikistan, pointed to the discrimination of girls within the education system and asked which activities were being conducted by the civil society organizations to make children with disabilities equal citizens in everyday life.  What was being done to ensure that those in the institutional care enjoyed the same rights in regards to education and health as other children?

Children living with HIV/AIDS were secluded from the society – were there campaigns to combat prejudice against the HIV/AIDS?  How did the children in remote rural areas enjoy proper health care and education?  What measures were being taken to lift the restrictions on the freedom of movement for refugee and asylum-seeking children, enable their enrolment in the education system and provide birth certificates?

Birth registration was problematic in rural and remote areas where a significant number of children did not have birth certificates.  Was there a possibility of mobile birth certificate service?  Did the Government consider lifting the registration fees for poor people?

Other Experts asked if the principle of the best interest of the child was incorporated in the 2015 Law on Child Protection, how it was exercised and whether judges and social workers were trained in this matter.  The delegation was asked to inform on the application of the best interest of the child in judicial proceedings, particularly in cases of the placement of children in residential care, and to elaborate on measures taken to integrate it in all policies and programmes which concerned children.

Were the children under the age of ten encouraged to express their views on family matters in accordance with the Family Code, and how was this exercised?  Were the judges specifically trained to take on board the views of children in cases of adoption? 

The delegation was asked about programmes and policies to increase the empowerment of children and strengthen their decision-making.  Was the corporal punishment explicitly prohibited?  Was there a complaint mechanism to report corporal punishment and were there any statistics on such cases?

The question was asked on how the neighbourhood militia officers assisted in preventing violence against children.  Seeing how there were only 12 officers in the country, how much of the prevention against violence were they realistically doing?

Freedom of religion and freedom of association were severely restricted in the last few years, noted the Experts and asked the delegation to comment.

There were over 10,000 children in residential care institutions and in boarding schools – were there regular inspections of these institutions, were there complaints mechanisms in place which were accessible to the children and what happen to the children once they left the boarding school?

On the topic of the rehabilitation of child victims, the question was asked if there were any reintegration programmes, particularly for children victims of sexual violence?  Were there help lines in the country, how they functioned and who operated them?

Replies by the Delegation

Responding to questions raised concerning the legislation and the legal framework, the delegation explained that the Constitution had the priority, but the judges had to examine all the cases using the Convention on the Rights of the Child as their reference point.  A draft law on the prevention of violence against children was being examined at the momen, to ensure that it conformed to the international standards in this area.

Regarding the age of marriage, the delegation explained that the court could decide to reduce the age to 17 years based on individual circumstances and on the case-by-case assessment.  The trend to allow the marriage at the age of 17 was decreasing: while there had been over 1,000 such court decisions in 2015, the number had dropped to 700 in 2016 and to 240 so far this year.

Only civil marriages were recorded; religious marriages were not registered, but the children from those marriages were entitled to protection.  The statistics on religious and unregistered marriages was not available.

Responding to the question raised about the torture of minors, the delegation said that only one case had been recently recorded and that all the relevant information had been provided to the Committee Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.  Special prosecutor conducted monitoring of any actions of torture, carried out unannounced visits to places of detention, and the detainees could file anonymous complaints with the special prosecutor.  Places of detention could be visited by the coalition of non-governmental organizations as well.

There was no prison for children in Tajikistan, there were only colonies where children were placed together whereas prisons had isolated cells.

The public spending on education had doubled in the period 2009 to 2016, each year increasing by 20 per cent on average.  Expenditure on education represented 5.8 per cent of the State budget in 2015, compared to three per cent in 2013.  The number of educational institutions increased by 3.5 per cent and additional places were created for students. 

The number of health institutions was also rising: new hospitals had opened and there were 4,400 new beds for patients.  The public investment in health increased eightfold, totalling 27 million somoni, while the investment in culture, leisure and sport was over one billion somoni.  The real income of a family in 2016 represented 104 per cent compared to the previous year, and it had been matched with the increase in salaries and pensions.

Data were disaggregated according to age, gender and region.  According to the results of the most recent census, 84 per cent of the population were Tajiks, 12 per cent Uzbeks, while Russians, Kyrgyz and other minorities made up the rest.  Out of some 4,000 educational establishments, over 300 were teaching in Uzbek.

On the question of birth registration, the delegation said that 25,000 births had been timely registered in 2016, while 5,000 had been registered late due to the remoteness of places.  The local authorities and branches of the Ministry of Justice registered births, while new information systems had been introduced to improve birth registration, through a project with the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme.

The delegation explained the institutional architecture for the protection of the rights of the child in Tajikistan and said that the Commission on the Rights of the Child was a standing inter-agency body which coordinated activities on the national and municipal levels.  Representatives of the civil society could also take part in the work of the Commission.  A department for the protection of children’s rights had been set up in the Executive Office of the President in 2015; it served as the secretariat of the Commission on the Rights of the Child and coordinated the activities of the provincial, municipal and district children’s rights commissions.

Regarding the children without parental care, local authorities were obliged to register them, and there were special guardianship forms in place.  Local guardianship and tutorship commissions existed and a single database was being developed on orphans and street children throughout the country.

Questions from the Experts

RENATE WINTER, Committee Chairperson and Rapporteur for Tajikistan, reiterated the concern about the children in institutional care and asked about the mechanisms in place to monitor what was happening to those children.

Other Experts remarked that the number of children in children’s homes did not decline over the years and continued to be extremely high, so the question was asked about measures taken to prevent the abandonment of children.  What criteria were taken into account for the removal of children from their family, which institution decided on the removal, and which one was in charge of the process?  Which institutions were in charge of the adoption process?  There was no increase in the number of foster families – were incentives being considered to address the issue?

Experts noted the large scale of prejudice towards children with disabilities and asked the delegation about the progress in the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, awareness raising activities, the total number of children with disabilities and how many were enrolled in school.  They also asked how many received benefits, whether the schools were equipped to cater to their needs, and if there were specific training programmes for teachers?

The Universal Period Review conducted in 2016 showed that neonatal mortality, though reduced overall, remained unchanged in the rural areas.  Which public policies were adopted to reduce neonatal mortality in the rural areas and to improve access to primary health care?

Did the health code include the standards on breastfeeding and did Tajikistan plan to accede to the International Labour Organization Convention C183 on maternity protection?  How long was the maternity leave and did it include all working women, in formal and informal sectors? 

The delegation was asked about mental health problems among the adolescents and the mental health services available, including to those suffering from depression.

Turning to HIV/AIDS, Experts said that, in spite of the adopted law, in 2015 there had been 170 children living with HIV/AIDS who had not been treated.  It seemed that only non-governmental organizations were assisting them, so what did the Government plan to do in this regard, including to prevent their stigmatization?

In the light of the poverty rate of 30 per cent, what public policies were in place to reduce child poverty and what results had been achieved so far?  What was being done to improve access to safe drinking water, which in 2014 was accessible to less than 60 per cent of the population?

The 2012 survey showed that 23 per cent of children aged five to 15 were working; 11 per cent of those were aged of five to 11.  Was there a more recent survey?  How did the child labour monitoring system function at the local level?

An Expert inquired about the legal infrastructure related to trafficking in persons and the abduction of children, and sought a clarification whether the bylaws necessary for the implementation of the law combating human trafficking had been adopted in the last three years.

Tajikistan was a source of trafficking of women, Experts noted with concern and asked about the measures undertaken to combat such gross violation of human rights, about the availability of appropriate services for victims of trafficking, and whether assistance to victims was still conditional on their cooperation in the investigation process.

On the matter of juvenile justice, Committee Experts inquired whether deprivation of liberty and custodial sentence was an exception and asked for the data on custodial and non-custodial sentences; measures in place to ensure that juveniles, even the first-time offenders, were always separated from adult detainee population; and the training of judges on the topic of juvenile justice.  Had the cases of mistreatment and torture by the police need independently investigated? 

According to the report, there had been no cases of discrimination in 2017, and Experts were concerned by the fact that no complaints had been filed with the Ombudsman for Children so far, as it could indicate low awareness among the children about the existence of this mechanism.

Replies by the Delegation

Answering questions raised by the Committee Experts, a delegate sad that Tajikistan had adopted the 2015-2020 National Programme to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour and was working with the International Labour Organization to achieve its objectives.

Tajikistan was the first country to embark on the fight against human trafficking in Central Asia.  To that end, a high level inter-agency body had been set up which involved also representatives of non-governmental organizations; one of its tasks was to set up a service for victims, with particular reference to minors.

On the issue of infant and maternal mortality, the infant mortality rate had fallen from 53 per 1,000 live births in 2007 to 43 per 1,000 live births by 2012.  Half of all deaths occurred during the first month of life, while the birth rate in Tajikistan was 3.8 children per woman, one of the highest in the world.  The demographic and health policies were designed to reduce infant mortality and medical studies were underway to assess the medical causes of neonatal mortality.

The Ministry of Health and Social Protection was providing health services in rural and remote areas, where special centres had been set up.  The use of family doctors had increased and Tajikistan had adopted the National Family Medicine Plan to enhance the capacity of family doctors.   

The overall poverty level in the country stand at 30 per cent but it was important to note that it had been drastically reduced since the independence, which had seen the extreme poverty rates decline from 18 to 14.4 per cent.  Child poverty was 33 per cent in 2016.  Targeted assistance was usually offered to prioritized groups, for example, poor families had access to school feeding programmes.  Lack of access to sanitation and heating were the main problems of non-monetary poverty.  Water and sanitation issues had been improved through projects implemented in cooperation with the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund.

In the last few years, labour migration to Russia had decreased by 35 per cent and the number of children leaving declined as well.  An average migrant worker was a male in his mid-twenties.

A programme aimed at reforming the juvenile justice system started in 2017 with the United Nations Children’s Fund’s support ; it was being implemented at the local level and focused on children victims of rights violations.  A department for family affairs had been created to promote a justice system adjusted to minors.

Concerning the accession to new international instruments, the country was working on
ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Specialized institutions, such as the Commission on the Rights of the Child were in line with the Paris principles.

In order to improve the nutrition status of mothers and children, two projects were implemented in the Khatlon province: the Feed the Future project was supported by the United States Agency for International Development, while the other one, supported by the World Bank and Japan, aimed to improve nutrition in all the districts through therapeutic feeding and the provision of amoxicillin and vitamin A to undernourished children.  The Khatlon province was least covered with medical professionals so a medical university had been opened there.

There were over 10,000 registered cases of HIV/AIDS in Tajikistan.  Children of HIV-positive mothers were closely monitored; currently there were 800 HIV-positive children, 400 girls and 400 boys.  Migrants returning from other countries were a particularly vulnerable group, and were tested for HIV.  All pregnant women underwent HIV testing prior to the twelfth week of pregnancy, while at-risk women were tested twice during the pregnancy.  Pregnant women received antiretroviral therapy from the first day of pregnancy in order to lower the risk of transmitting the virus to the children.

In terms of the immunization programmes, the resources allocated in 2016 amounted to seven million somoni and to nine million somoni in 2017.  Over one million children were covered by the immunization programmes.

Concerning children with disabilities, 29 per cent received assistance, and thirty centres had been opened for orphans.  In 2015, concerted efforts were invested to draft a strategy for early diagnosis of disability, and the Ministry of Health had launched a series of programmes targeting children with disabilities.

The delegation said that the Ombudsman for Children undertook nearly 100 monitoring missions, during which no violations had been found and no complaints had been received.  To promote the institution of the Ombudsman among the children, 150 mass media programmes had been organized, there was a specialized website, and awareness raising activities were being organized in schools.  The delegation reiterated that children had unimpeded access to the Ombudsman and that a non-governmental organizations’ coalition was assisting the Ombudsman in his work.

The strategy for the provision of social services had been drafted and the Government’s priority was to deinstitutionalize the provision of social services, but this was a process that could not take place over night.  Funding was made available for a number of vulnerable categories and targeted assistance was being carried out across 50 cities.  The methodology had been set up in cooperation with the European Union.  Association of social workers existed at the Tajik University.

There was a State programme for pre-school education and a law on pre-school education had been enacted which had set up the new standards.  There were 602 public and 81 private pre-school facilities in the country and the Centre for Early Development of Children had been established with support of the United Nations Children’s Fund.  There were also.

Consideration of Reports under the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict

Questions from the Experts

HYND AYOUBI IDRISSI, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Tajikistan, noted that data on the sale of children, illegal adoption, child prostitution and pornography were missing from the report and asked about the plans to develop an information system allowing systematic data collection and data assessment for the preparation of reports.

Was the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography integrated in the national legal framework and had the judges and the staff in charge of its implementation been trained?  Who was in charge of coordinating different departments dealing with the implementation of the Optional Protocol, how was the implementation monitored and what budget was allocated for the implementation?

ANN SKELTON, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Tajikistan, asked about the prohibition of offenses enumerated under the Protocol, including about the specific law which criminalized the sale of children considering that it had not been specifically prohibited by the Criminal Code.  Were there incidents of the sale of children?  While child prostitution had been criminalized, it remained unclear how the law treated the children, as victims or as prostitutes?

The practice of sexting was increasing internationally – was this a practice in Tajikistan and how it was regulated?  Experts noted that the age of consent was 16 years and asked whether the law made a distinction between adult and adolescent offenders and how it avoided criminalization of adolescents?

What were the root causes of human trafficking and was Tajikistan a country of origin or a destination country?  What were the plans concerning the ratification of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction?  How was the extradition regulated in the absence of bilateral agreements?

AMAL SALMAN ALDOSERI, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Tajikistan asked which institution was in charge of coordinating the implementation of the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, whether it was disseminated to children and professional staff working with children, and what training the professionals received.

The delegation was asked if the records were kept on refugees and migrants entering the country who had possibly been involved in armed conflicts; measures in place to prevent the children traveling to conflict zones from being radicalized, recruited and involved in armed conflict; recovery programmes in place; the number of military schools in the country and whether the Optional Protocol and the international human rights law were part of the curricula.

HYND AYOUBI IDRISSI, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Tajikistan, asked about criminalization of the recruitment of children, the use of the Optional Protocol in extradition matters, and the universal competence of the State party.  Did any measures for psychological, social and physical rehabilitation exist, including for migrants and asylum-seeking children? 

Replies by the Delegation

Responding to questions raised under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, the delegation informed the Committee that the Act on Combating Trafficking in Persons and Providing Assistance to Victims of Trafficking in Persons had been adopted and that the National Plan on Countering Trafficking was in place. 

When it came to sexual abuse, over 290 cases had been recorded; the cases of children trafficked out of the country were not recorded, while 33 children had been registered as victims of rape.

Child pornography was criminalized and the relevant article had been added to the Criminal Code.  There had been one case of child pornography in 2016.  The Ministry of Internal Affairs had conducted numerous investigations detecting 140 cases of sexual abuse in 2014; 110 in 2015; and 105 in 2016.  As for the crime of marrying underage girls, 23 cases had been registered in 2016 and 53 in 2015.

The crime of human trafficking was regulated by the Criminal Code.  There had been nine cases against 14 persons in 2014; 14 cases against 28 people including 14 juveniles in 2015; and seven cases against 14 people including seven juveniles in 2016.  An analysis of trafficking of juveniles demonstrated that this crime was usually committed by unmarried women in order to conceal unwanted pregnancy.  There had been no registered cases of trafficking in persons for the purpose of the sale of organs.

Tajikistan worked continuously to assist victims of trafficking; it had set up the centre for protection of victims and conducted a series of awareness raising activities, including in the educational institutions.  Victims of trafficking in persons were referred to the International Labour Organization rehabilitation centres.  Seminars and trainings were being organized for the police officers to curb illegal migration and combat human trafficking, in cooperation with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

International adoption was prohibited under the domestic law; the exemptions were regulated under the Family Code.

Turning to the questions asked under the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, the delegation said that, regarding the military training and recruitment, a man aged 18 to 27 years had to undergo a military service, unless exempted.  There were military schools and colleges where soldiers were trained.  Girls were trained on first aid techniques.

On the matter of citizens returning from conflict zones, it was reported that over 70 people had returned to Tajikistan, and 40 of those were juveniles.  Law enforcement bodies carried out series of measures to suppress possible extremist and terrorist activities.

Bodies in charge of the implementation of the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict were the Public Prosecutor Office and ministries in charge of internal affairs, education, health, youth, employment, and the judiciary.  The central focal point for the coordination of the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols was the Commission on the Rights of the Child.

International human rights law was taught in military schools, and trainings were provided to judges and members of law enforcement agencies.  Modules focusing on the promotion of children rights were being developed.  A website containing information on all relevant international obligations of Tajikistan, including the information on the Convention on the Rights of Child and its two Optional Protocols, had been launched in 2016.

Concerning the extradition, the notion of extraterritorial competence was part of the national legislation while article 2 of the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict had been transposed in the national legislation.  In addition, Tajikistan had bilateral agreements on extradition with a number of countries, including with China, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.

The victims of anti-personal landmines were treated, provided with social and monetary assistance, psychological counselling and physical rehabilitation.  Over the past few years, 492 persons had been wounded and 300 had died.  Awareness raising activities on dangers of landmines were being carried out across the country.

Follow-up Questions and Answers

In their follow-up questions, Committee Experts asked whether a person under the age of 18 was allowed to have a weapon and engage in an armed conflict.  The children who returned from the combat zones were included in the education system, they noted and asked about the specific policies dealing with the reintegration of such children.

The delegation was asked to inform on programmes to combat the recruitment of foreign fighters, steps taken to define the crime of the recruitment of children under the age of 15 as a war crime, a national plan of action to implement the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, and the intentions concerning the criminalization of the possession of child pornographic materials and of sexting.

Tajikistan remained the only country in Central Asia where virginity tests were conducted on girls prior to their enrolment in schools and the delegation was asked whether this practice would be abolished.  Tajikistan ranked 151 out of 176 states on the corruption index - what measures were being implemented to address this wide-spread issue?

Responding, the delegation said that the current legal framework had provided for sufficient grounds to prosecute cases of sexting.  On the birth registration, 93 per cent of the country was mountainous, making such task increasingly difficult particularly in the winter.  For that reason, delayed registration was allowed.  The Ministry of Health was implementing a project funded by the European Union which was establishing a new information system for birth registration and other status issues.   The Government was currently considering the question of cost and fees for the birth registration.

Virginity tests were not being conducted, said the delegation, explaining that only general medical tests were being done.  Child prostitution did constitute administrative offense, but only for those above the age of 16.

On child labour, children under the age of 15 were mostly working on their families’ farms.  Only 4.5 per cent of children under the age of 15 were hired work and only two per cent worked in dangerous circumstances.  The 2016 labour force survey conducted with the World Bank had shown decline in child labour.

Extreme poverty declined from 18 to 14 per cent in 2016, as a result of the poverty eradication programmes.  18,000 people were included in vocational training programmes, including children with disabilities.  

Tajikistan had adopted the National Strategy for Combating Corruption to 2030 as well as the relevant legislation, and had set up an agency to combat the corruption, with a strong monitoring mechanism in place.

The Supreme Court had issued an order allowing courts to interfere in education matters, demonstrating that the best interest of child was present in all institutions.
There were no reports of refugee children being refused school enrolment.

Concluding remarks

RUSTAM SHOHMUROD, Minister of Justice of Tajikistan, expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the Committee for their constructive contributions.  The dialogue was complex but also instrumental in mapping out further challenges and guidelines in promoting the rights of the child.  The Committee’s recommendation would be fully shared with all relevant departments.

AMAL SALMAN ALDOSERI, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for Tajikistan, thanked the delegation for all the answers and urged Tajikistan to consider ratifying the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

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