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Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)[1] [print]

Last edited: November 2005


Summary and Analysis


The DRC ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on September 27, 1990.  Under the country's transitional Constitution, international treaties and agreements attain supreme legal authority upon ratification.[2]  A new constitution, which is currently slated for referendum in December of 2005, contains an identical article. 


The current constitution also emphasizes the importance of the family, which is placed under the protection of the authorities.  Children in particular are afforded protection by their parents and families, society at large, and the State. 


We were unable to obtain copies of domestic laws in the DRC that may be relevant to child protective proceedings in the country.  We are aware that the DRC has, at the least, a Family Code in effect (Code de la Famille, loi no. 87/010 du 1 août 1987).  From both the Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child [3] and the Alternative Report of the NGO Working Group on the Rights of Children[4], it appears that children's participatory rights are not widely protected and observed in the DRC.  The Alternative Report notes that under the Family Code, the child's right to be heard is limited to adoption and divorce proceedings. Without further knowledge of the Family Code, however, it remains unclear whether the child's right to be heard is not extended to protective proceedings, or whether protective proceedings simply do not exist in the first place.


At present, the DRC continues to be plagued with instability, ethnic tensions, and human rights abuses.[5]  Children are particularly vulnerable to forced labor, homelessness, and acts of violence.[6]  On a more hopeful note, however, the country is currently preparing for its first democratic elections in over 40 years.


Despite our efforts, we were unable to contact a knowledgeable contact person in the DRC.


Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)


Original Text


International Law


Convention relative aux droits de l'enfant, Article 12[7]

(Ratified 27 September 1990)


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 de la Transition

Adoptée le avril 2003 et promulguée le 04/04/2003[8]


Titre III : Des Libertés Publiques, des Droits et des Devoirs Fondamentaux du Citoyen


Article 43

La famille, cellule de base de la communauté humaine, est organisée de manière à ce que soient assurées son unité et sa stabilité. Elle est placée sous la protection particulière des pouvoirs publics. Les soins et l'éducation à donner aux enfants constituent, pour les parents, un droit naturel et un devoir qu'ils exercent sous la surveillance et avec l'aide des pouvoirs publics. Les enfants ont le devoir d'assister leurs parents. La loi fixe les règles sur le mariage et l'organisation de la famille.


Article 44

Tout enfant a le droit de jouir de la protection de sa famille, de la société et des pouvoirs publics. .


Article 45

Les pouvoirs publics ont l'obligation de protéger la jeunesse contre toute atteinte à sa santé, à son éducation et à son développement moral.




International Law


Article 12, Convention on the Rights of the Child

(Ratified 27 September 1990)


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.




Transition Constitution

Adopted on April 1, 2003 and promulgated on 4/4/2003


Title III: Public Freedoms, Fundamental Rights and Duties of the Citizen


Article 43

The family, the basic cell of the human community, is organized in such a way that its unity and stability are assured. The family is placed under the particular protection of the authorities. The care and education to be given to children constitute, for the parents, a natural right and a duty which they exert under the monitoring and assistance of the authorities. The children have the duty to assist their parents. The law sets the rules on marriage and the organization of the family.


Article 44

Every child has the right to enjoy the protection of his family, society and the authorities. .


Article 45

The authorities have the obligation to protect youth against all things affecting their health, education and moral development. .




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

[2] Article 193, Constitution de la Transition de la République Démocratique du Congo (2003), available at http://confinder.richmond.edu/admin/docs/DRCongoTranstion.pdf.

[3] Concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Democratic Republic of the Congo, CRC/C/15/Add.153 (Jul. 9, 2001), available at http://www.hri.ca/fortherecord2001/documentation/tbodies/crc-c-15-add153.htm.

[4] Groupe de Travail des ONGs pour les Droits de L'enfant, Rapport Alternatif et Evaluatif des ONGs sur L'application de la Convention Relative aux Droits de L'enfant par la République du Congo (Oct. 2000), available at http://www.crin.org/docs/resources/treaties/crc.27/Drc.doc.

[5] United States Department of State, 2004 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Democratic Republic of the Congo (Feb. 2005), available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41597.htm.

[6] Id.

[7] 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.

[8] Constitution de la Transition de la République Démocratique du Congo (2003), available at http://confinder.richmond.edu/admin/docs/DRCongoTranstion.pdf.

[9] Unofficial translation by French translators for the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School.


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