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Central African Republic[1] [print]

Last edited: May 2006

 

Summary and Analysis

 

The Central African Republic ("CAR") ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on May 23, 1990. The Family Code provides for child protection proceedings, which are heard by the same judges that rule on divorces. The judges have the authority to review and dictate the acts taken under parental authority, and to revoke parental authority entirely. The Constitution of 2004 provides that international treaties are higher authority than the national laws, so Article 12's requirement that children be able to express their views in these proceedings should apply. CAR signed the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child on February 4, 2003, but has not ratified it.

 

In the Central African Republic, a widely-held view is that children do not have views of their own. Rather, the parental authority's conception of the child's best interests is the child's opinion. Under this framework, the child's views are expressed in child protection proceedings, because the parents are heard during these proceedings. Under the Convention's conception of the child's views, however, child protection proceedings in the Central African Republic do not comply with Article 12, because the child's views as she would express them are never heard.

 

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

 

Original Text

 

International Law

 

Convention relative aux droits de l'enfant, [2] ratified May 23, 1990.

 

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.

 

Constitution

 

Constitution of the Central African Republic[3]

 

Le Peuple Centrafricain .Réaffirme son adhésion à toutes les Conventions Internationales dûment ratifiées, notamment celle relative à l'interdiction de toute forme de discrimination à l'égard des femmes ainsi que celle relative à la protection des droits de l'enfant.

 

Statutes

 

The Family and Persons Code

We were unable to locate the text of the CAR Family and Persons code.  For a summary of the relevant sections of the code, see the translation section below.

Translation

 

International Law

 

Convention on the Rights of the Child, [4] ratified May 23, 1990.

 

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.

 

Constitution

 

Constitution of the Central African Republic[5]

 

The Central African people . . . reaffirms its adherence to all International Conventions duly ratified, notably that concerning the prohibition of any form of discrimination toward women and that concerning the protection of the rights of children.

 

Statutes

 

The Family and Persons Code

 

The following is a summary of the relevant sections of the Family and Persons Code, provided by CAR in their 1994 State Party Report to the Committee on the Rights off the Child[6]:

The judgment pronouncing divorce or judicial separation also covers custody of the child who, in his or her best interests, will be entrusted to one of his or her parents or, if necessary, to a third person, either physical or legal. . The court determines the circumstances in which the parent deprived of guardianship may enjoy visiting rights. Regardless of the person to whom the child is entrusted, the father and mother continue to contribute to his or her support in proportion to their resources. .

The person entrusted with parental authority is responsible for the moral guidance and material welfare of the child; his or her prerogatives may be exercised only in the interests of the minor. The person assuming responsibility for the custody of the child has the right and duty to establish the child in their domicile, to supervise his or her acts and relations, to make funeral arrangements and cover funeral costs and to have the child's memory respected. The exercise of parental authority implies the power to reprimand and chastise to the extent compatible with the age and understanding of the child. Any decisions taken with respect to the minor in the exercise of parental authority may be referred, by any relative concerned, to the judge of the minor's domicile, whose ruling takes the form of a court order. Parental authority ends with the majority, marriage or emancipation of the child.

If the health, safety, morals or education of a minor are jeopardized, correctional measures may be applied to him or her as an endangered child. . A child who is taken in by an individual or a charitable body and in whom the parents have obviously shown no interest for over one year may be declared abandoned by the court of major jurisdiction unless one of the parents has, within that period, petitioned for custody of the child and the court has declared the petition to be in accordance with the interests of the minor.

 

Local Contact Information

 

Ms. S. Chiarucci

UNICEF CAR

+236 612.884

 



Endnotes

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

[2] 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.

[3] Constitution of the Central African Republic, adopted by referendum Dec. 5 2004, available at http://democratie.francophonie.org/article.php3?id_article=1126&id_rubrique=729, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[4] United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, supra note 2, available at http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm.

[5] Unofficial translation by a translator provided by Yale Law School.

[6] Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial reports of States parties due in 1994, Central African Republic, ¶ 46, 48-49, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/11/Add.18 (Nov. 18, 1998).

 

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