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Comoros [1] [print]

Last edited: November 2005

 

 

Summary and Analysis

 

Comoros ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in July 1993 and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child on March 18, 2004. According to the preamble of the Constitution, the country is obliged by international conventions, especially in regard to children's rights, but it is not clear if the convention takes precedence over domestic legislation.[2]

 

In addition, Comoros takes part in a recently established Observatory on the Rights of Children in the Indian Ocean Region (ODEROI). This international organization was formed to monitor and enforce children's rights in the participatory countries. The organization was established and operates with the assistance of UNICEF.[3]

 

Comoros has no legislation to give the child the right to express their views in accordance with Article 12 of the Convention, neither in the family nor in court. Furthermore, there is no juvenile court system or social services to attend to situations defined as protective proceedings.

 

According to the state's report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child,[4] the ratification of the Convention is "tantamount to a cultural revolution" when taking into account the traditional society in Comoros.[5] From the report it is clear that the ratification of the Convention did not have a significant impact on the local legislation, which is jointly governed by Shari'ah, local custom and French law.[6]

 

Regarding Article 12, the state explains its difficulties in implementing this provision because of the way in which children are viewed by society. In Comoros "a child is thought of as a rebellious individual lacking discernment. Accordingly, parents, like society, believe it is their sacred duty to "train" children to be human beings. According to this outlook, the child's views are a priori dismissed and have no validity. . Before one can talk of respect for the views of the child, special attention must be paid to the indispensable instilment of judgment in order to guard against fanciful, impulsive or irrational choices."[7] Furthermore, the free expression of ideas by children is regarded as a sign of deficient education.

 

The extended family functions as a substitute to social services. The state report says that in many homes, Comorian children traditionally live in large extended families that act as a safety net around the parents, who do not have any particular status in relation to their offspring.[8]  It is unclear to us exactly what is meant by that statement.

 

Comoros is in the process of enacting a new Family Code that, among other subjects, will address issues of children's rights. The legislation process is delayed by the necessity to combine different bases of law (Muslim, French, Comorian and perhaps International standards). [9]  

 

Related Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

 

Original Text

 

Constitution

 

LA CONSTITUTION COMORIENNE [10]

 

Proclame :

-        Les libertés d'expression, de réunion, d'association et la liberté syndicale dans le respect de la morale et de l'ordre public, .

-       Le droit de l'enfant et de la jeunesse à être protégés par les pouvoirs publics contre toute forme d'abandon, d'exploitation et de violence.

 

International Law

 

Convention relative aux droits de l'enfant[11]

 

Article 12.

1. Les Etats parties garantissent à l'enfant qui est capable de discernement le droit d'exprimer librement son opinion sur toute question l'intéressant, les opinions de l'enfant étant dûment prises en considération eu égard à son âge et à son degré de maturité.

2. A cette fin, on donnera notamment à l'enfant la possibilité d'être entendu dans toute procédure judiciaire ou administrative l'intéressant, soit directement, soit par l'intermédiaire d'un représentant ou d'une organisation approprié, de façon compatible avec les règles de procédure de la législation nationale.

 

Regional Agreements

 

Charte Africaine des Droits et du Bein-etre de l'Enfant[12]

 

Article 4.  Interet Superieur de L'Enfant

 

2. Dans toute procédure judiciaire ou administrative affectant un enfant qui est capable de communiquer, on fera en sorte que les vues de l'enfant puissent être entendues soit directement, soit par le truchement d'un représentant impartial qui prendra part à la procédure, et ses vues seront prises en considération par l'autorité compétente, conformément aux dispositions des lois applicables en la matière.

 

Article 7.  Liberte d'Expression

Tout enfant qui est capable de communiquer se verra garantir le droit d'exprimer ses opinions librement dans tous les domaines et de faire connaître ses opinions, sous réserve des restrictions prévues par la loi.

 

Translation

 

The Constitution[13]

 

Proclaim:

-        Freedoms of expression, meeting, association and trade-union freedom in the respect of morals and the law and order, .

-        The right of young people to be protected by the State and their communities against moral neglect, all forms of exploitation and all forms of delinquency.

 

International Law

 

The Convention[14]

 

Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

 

Regional Agreements

 

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child[15]

 

Article 4: Best Interests of the Child

 

2. In all judicial or administrative proceedings affecting a child who is capable of communicating his/her own views, and opportunity shall be provided for the views of the child to be heard either directly or through an impartial representative as a party to the proceedings, and those views shall be taken into consideration by the relevant authority in accordance with the provisions of appropriate law.

 

Article 7: Freedom of Expression

Every child who is capable of communicating his or her own views shall be assured the rights to express his opinions freely in all matters and to disseminate his opinions subject to such restrictions as are prescribed by laws.

 

Research Path

 

http://www.beit-salam.km/index.php - Presidential website

http://www.africa-union.org/ - African Union

http://www.comores-online.com/ - Comoros Online

http://www.comores-online.com/al-watwan/Archives/N830/Page18.htm - Code de la Famille

http://portail.droit.francophonie.org/etats.epl?etat=43 - Droit Francophonie

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] The Constitution, Preamble.

[4] Initial Report (1998), U.N. Doc. CRC/C/28/Add.13, available at here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[5] Id., at ¶21.

[6] Id., at ¶25.

[7] Id., at ¶66-67.

[8] Id., at ¶ 81.

[10] The Constitution of Comoros, available at http://www.beit-salam.km/article.php3?id_article=34, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[11] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989), available at http://www.ohchr.org/french/law/crc.htm.

[12] Charte Africaine des Droits et du Bein-etre de l'Enfant, opened for signature July 11, 1990, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/24.9/49, available at http://www.africa-union.org/.

[13] The Constitution of Comoros, Unofficial translation from the Initial Report, supra note 3, ¶5.

[14] United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, supra note 10, available at http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm.

[15] African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, opened for signature July 11, 1990, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/24.9/49, available at http://www.africa-union.org/.

 

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