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Guinea-Bissau[1] [print]

Last edited: November 2005

Summary and Analysis


Guinea-Bissau ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in August 1990 and submitted its first report to the Committee on the Right of the Child in July 2001.  Guinea-Bissau signed the African Charter on the Rights and the Welfare of the Child in March 2005, but has not yet ratified the Charter.


Guinea-Bissau's constitution does not specify the relationship between international treaties, the constitution, and national laws, which makes the nature of Guinea-Bissau's Article 12 obligations to hear a child under domestic law somewhat unclear.  Article 29 provides that fundamental rights contained within the Constitution do not negate other rights provided for in national laws or international law, as well as requiring that fundamental rights addressed in the Constitution and national laws be interpreted in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[2]  In its report to the UN CRC, Guinea-Bissau noted that “the relationship between the international instruments and national legislation is that the latter are strongly inspired by the former which shall always be considered even when they are not expressly recognized.”[3]  The report added further that “the rules of the majority of international laws related to human rights are always considered in the decisions and sentences proclaimed by judicial bodies, even when they are not provided in the national legislation.”[4]  This suggests an understanding of the constitution that gives great weight and deference to international agreements Guinea-Bissau has ratified.


We were unable to determine the specific nature of representation of children in protective proceedings in Guinea-Bissau.  Several laws, including the 1997 Bill on Child and Women's Protection, the Family Code – Law N.3/1976 (under revision), and decrees 417/71 and 484/71 (regarding judicial assistance to minors and rules for jurisdictional assistance to minors) bear relevance to the issue of child representation in protective proceedings.  Unfortunately, we could not obtain copies of these pieces of legislation.


As of 2000, at least, the nature of legal representation for minors provided for by decrees 417/71 and 484/71 had little or no practical effect, as the legislation had not been implemented and there were no specialized courts for minors, support institutions or specific training.[5]  In its report to the UN Committee on the Right of the Child, the government of Guinea-Bissau stated that “the majority of laws related to the child are written promises.”[6]  The government noted that very little had been done to implement the CRC within the judicial system, but that several administrative structures (National Council for Childhood, Child's Fortnight, and the National Parliament for Children) were created to facilitate the implementation of the CRC.[7]


Related Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)


Portuguese Text


Convenção sobre os Direitos da Criança[8]


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


Convention on the Rights of the Child[9]


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 Guinea-Bissau – Social Protection Unit

Apartado 464

1034 Bissau Codex

Bissau, Republic of Guinea Bissau

Tel: (245) 203581

(245) 203582

Fax: (245) 203586

Email: bissau@unicef.org



INDE – Intercooperação e  Desenvolvimento

(Elsa Santiago, Helder Santiago)

Bissau, Guinea-Bissau

Tel: (245) 206589

(245) 206588

E-mail: inde@mail.gtelecom.gw



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

[2] Const. Rep. Guinea-Bissau art. 29 (1996).

[3] Initial reports of States parties due in 1992: Guinea-Bissau, U.N. CRC, para. 117, CRC/C/3/Add.63 (2001) [hereinafter Guinea-Bissau CRC Report], available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[4] Id. para. 118.

[5] Id. para. 106, 184.

[6] Id. para. 107.

[7] Id. para. 125.

[8] Portuguese translation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, available at http://www.unicef.org/brazil/dir_cri.htm. See the discussion in the Summary and Analysis section regarding the applicability of the CRC in Guinea-Bissau's legal system.

[9] 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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