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GENEVA (28 May 2020) – The UN child rights committee has welcomed Spain’s prompt decision to allow a 12-year old Moroccan girl to go to school in Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, setting a positive example for over 80 other similar unresolved instances.
The Spanish government’s action came some six weeks after the
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) requested that Spain take interim measures to allow N.S., a Moroccan national born and raised in Melilla, to be admitted to a local primary school.
“We congratulate Spain’s quick response,” said Committee member Ann Skelton. “N.S. will be able to reach her full potential now that she can access formal education in Spain, the only country she has known and where she has lived for her whole life.
N.S. was born in Melilla to a Moroccan mother who herself had migrated there when she was a child. Both mother and daughter are categorized as irregular residents in the Spanish city and so N.S. was not able to enter the public education system, even though she had reached the age of compulsory schooling, which is from age six to16.
Starting in 2018, N.S. had campaigned for more than two years with other children in the same situation, demonstrating weekly in front of the Ministry of Education in Melilla to fight for their right to education.
In November 2019, N.S. and her mother filed a complaint before the judicial administrative court in Melilla to demand she be allowed to attend school there but the judge ruled that N.S. should be educated in Morocco instead.
N.S and her mother took their complaint to the CRC in February this year, arguing that with no family connections in Morocco, it was unrealistic to demand that she travel without the necessary assistance to receive education in a different country and in a different language.
The Committee immediately contacted the Spanish government. The local administration in Melilla subsequently informed N.S. on 24 March that she had been admitted to a public school in Melilla.
“I am the only one now to have been admitted but there are many other children left without school,” N.S. said in a video sharing her joy with the Committee. She added that she would like to see other irregular resident children going to school like her.
“This is the quickest case to be settled by our individual complaints mechanism. But there are several other similar cases registered with the Committee. We call on Spain to take urgent measures to allow these children to go to school in Melilla, as children have the right to education wherever they live, regardless of their status,” Skelton said.
A video message of N.S. is now available on this
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The Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors States parties’ adherence to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols on involvement of children in armed conflict, and on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. The Convention to date has 196 States parties. The Committee is made up of 18 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure (OPIC-CRC) allows the Committee to receive and examine complaints by individuals or groups of individuals claiming to be victims of a violation of the rights of the child by States that have ratified the Optional Protocol. To date, 46 States have ratified or acceded to the OPIC-CRC. The Committee’s views and decisions on individual communications are an independent assessment of States’ compliance with their human rights obligations under the Convention and its two substantive optional protocols.
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