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São Tomé e Principe[1] [print]

Last edited: November 2005


Summary and Analysis


We were unable to locate legislation speaking to São Tomé's implementation of Article 12 of the CRC with respect to the child's right to be heard in protective proceedings.  Though there appears to be legislation relating to the rights of children and their representation in place (Act No. 2/77 of 28 December 1997 and Decree No. 417/71 of 29 September 1971, which was revised in 2003),[2] we were not able obtain copies of this legislation.


São Tomé's 2003 report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child noted that there is a need to develop domestic legislation in order to guarantee the rights provided for in the CRC, especially those relating to preventing, assisting, and rehabilitating minors at risk or in emergency situations.[3]  The government plans to develop social, administrative or informal procedures in this area that enable a child's view to be heard, with judicial action as a measure of last resort.[4] 


Current legislation (Act No. 2/77 of 28 December 1997, art. 85(d)) provides that where there is a conflict of interest between parents and children, the child will be represented by a court-appointed guardian ad litem.[5]  Children over seven years old may be heard in adoption or guardianship proceedings.  In all cases, "a hearing for the child may be held only if necessary to his or her interests, and must be conducted in such a manner as not to imperil the child's equanimity and well-being."[6]


The report to the CRC also noted there is currently no specific legal definition of abuse and neglect, no law addressing the illtreatment of minors, or mechanisms to address the issue in place.[7]  Parental power can be limited or withdrawn by judicial ruling where it is not being exercised in the interests of the child and there is a reasonable likelihood of grave harm to the child.[8]


São Tomé e Prîncipe ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in May 1991 and submitted its first report in December 2003. São Tomé has not ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.


São Tomé's Constitution does not address the role of international law within Sao Tomé's legal system, limiting itself to adhering to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and to the principles and purposes of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations (UN).[9]


Related Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)


Portuguese Text




Constituição Politica da República Democrática de São Tomé e Prîncipe[10]


Artigo 25º - Família, casamento e filiação


4. Os filhos nascidos fora do casamento não podem por esse motivo, ser objecto de qualquer discriminação.


5. Os pais têm o direito e o dever de educação e manutenção dos filhos.


Artigo 51º - Infância


As crianças têm direito ao respeito e à protecção da sociedade e do Estado, com vista ao seu desenvolvimento integral.


Convenção sobre os Direitos da Criança[11]


Artigo 12

1. Os Estados Partes garantem à criança com capacidade de discernimento o direito de exprimir livremente a sua opinião sobre as questores que lhe respeitem, sendo devidamente tomadas em consideração as opiniões da criança, de acordo com a sua idade e maturidade.


2. Para este fim, eu assegurada à criança a oportunidade de ser ouvida nos processos judiciais e administrativos que lhe respeitem, seja directamente, seja através de representante ou de organismo adequado, segundo as modalidades previstas pelas regras de processo da legislação nacional.


English Text




Political Constitution of the Republic of São Tomé and Prîncipe[12]


Article 25 - Family, marriage, and offspring


4. Children born outside of marriage may not, for this reason, be the object of any discrimination.


5. Parents have the right and obligation to education and provide for their children.


Article 51 - Childhood


Children have the right to the respect and protection of society and the State, with the goal of ensuring their integrated development.


Convention on the Rights of the Child[13]


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.


Additional Resources and Links


UNICEF - São Tomé e Príncípe



[2] Initial reports of States parties due in 1993: São Tomé and Príncipe, U.N. CRC, paras. 32, 36 and 198, CRC/C/8/Add.49 (2003), available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/CRC.C.8.Add.49.En?OpenDocument

[3] Id., para. 40.

[4] Id., paras. 41-42.

[5] Id., para. 74.

[6] Id., paras. 76.

[7] Id., paras. 260 and 265.

[8] Id., para. 28.

[9] Const. Pol. Rep. Dem. São Tomé e Princípe art. 12 (1990).

[10] Id. art. 25 and 51.

[11] Portuguese translation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, available at http://www.unicef.org/brazil/dir_cri.htm. As noted above, São Tomé's Constitution is somewhat ambiguous with regard to the applicability of international agreements in domestic law. The Constitution adheres to the UDHR and the purposes and principles of the OAU and UN, but does not specify the role of international agreements.

[12] Unofficial translation provided by Portuguese translator at the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization.

[13] United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child art. 12, Dec. 12, 1989, UN General Assembly Document A/RES/44/25, available at http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm.


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