The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its examination of the fifth periodic report of Syria on measures taken to implement the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Hussam Edin Aala, Permanent Representative of Syria to the United Nations Office at Geneva, presenting the report, said that the reporting period covered an exceptional period in Syria during which it had suffered from a multifaceted war, whose main victims were children. All necessary measures were being taken to protect the citizens and defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity, he said, reaffirming Syria’s openness to any true effort towards a political solution where the people would decide on their future without any foreign interference. Numerous child protection mechanisms and institutions had been created, such as the Unit for Family Protection set up in 2017, and laws that aimed at implementing the national vision and the provisions of the Convention had been adopted. The law on juveniles aimed at correcting the behaviour of children and protecting their best interests, steps had been taken to promote the care for children with disabilities and their families, and serious efforts had been invested in continuing the educational process that was disrupted by the activities of terrorist groups. The civil status law had been amended to facilitate registration for Syrians inside the country and abroad. In closing, Mr. Aala decried unilateral coercive measures imposed on Syria by some countries, which had had a detrimental impact on children in particular; the continued politicization of the humanitarian situation in Syria which rejected terrorism as the cause of suffering in the country; and the lack of humanitarian funding and support for the rehabilitation and return of displaced persons to Syria.
During the dialogue, Committee Experts referred to United Nations sources and reports that had identified thousands of Syrian children who had been killed and maimed, noting with concern that more than half of those had been victims of the Government’s aerial attacks. There were verified reports of the turning off of water and electricity supplies to several besieged towns by the Government, and the systematic denial of aid, particularly in hard-to-reach areas, with devastating impact on civilians and children in particular. There were also widespread and consistent reports on torture and inhuman treatment of children, such as mutilation, sexual violence, and the death of children in detention. The delegation was asked to comment on how those actions related to Syria’s obligations under the Convention, explain how the best interest of the child was integrated in military operations, and outline measures in place to render the prohibition of torture and inhuman treatment effective and identify and prosecute perpetrators. Experts recognized the devastating impact of the conflict on the health system and on the mental health of children in particular, and asked about concrete steps taken to protect budgetary allocations for children – especially health and education – and ensure that all children, including displaced ones, realized their right to education. Experts expressed concern about the upsurge in child marriages as a result of the crisis and about the legal age of marriage that differed for girls and boys, and inquired about concrete steps to close the gaps in the legal framework which discriminated against certain groups of children in inheritance, nationality, and parental recognition.
Amal Aldoseri, Member of the Committee’s Task Force on Syria, concluded by recognizing the challenging situation in Syria caused by the crisis and the resulting difficulties in delivering on its international commitments, and stressed that such a situation could not waive Syria’s responsibilities towards its children.
Mr. Aala, in his concluding remarks, said that Syria was in the final phases of the war and was intent on liberating all of its territory from terrorists and invaders. Syria was aware that the next period would pose a new set of challenges.
The delegation of Syria consisted of representatives of the Syrian Commission of Family Affairs and Population, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, and the Permanent Mission of Syria to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
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