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Children’s rights under the spotlight

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The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRoC) will issue its Concluding Observations, a set of recommendations to the Government of South Africa to better protect and realise children’s rights, today (7 October).
A South African Alternate Report compiled by the Alternate Report Coalition-Children’s Rights South Africa (ARC-CRSA) raised issues of concern about persistent violations of children’s rights in South Africa. This included problems with high rates of violence linked to a failing child protection system, birth registration, child poverty, inequality and social grants, foster care challenges, and failures in the education and health care systems.
There is a keen sense of anticipation among children’s sector organisations, who have waited 16 years for this moment. After ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1996 and submitting its Initial Country Report in 1998, the UNCRoC delivered its initial Concluding Observations to South Africa in 2000. Thereafter, South Africa failed to report to the UNCRoC every five years as required by the UNCRC, submitting its subsequent report only in 2015. A delegation of the South African Government was examined by the UNCRoC in September 2016, and the Concluding Observations issued on Friday, 7 October 2016, will finalise the current process.
“This has been a drawn-out and complex process, and so we hope that South Africa’s next Periodic Report will be submitted timeously, covering the period 2014-2019,” says independent expert Carol Bower, one of the members of the ARC-CRSA. “This will allow us to respond promptly to pressing issues of concerns around children’s rights.”
ARC-CRSA is an alliance of organisations invested in realising children’s rights in the country. The ARC-CRSA compiled an Alternate Report – other civil society organisations submitted similar reports – that was presented to the UNCRoC in 2016. Alternate Reports serve as civil society’s responses to the Country Reports that governments submit every five years under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
The Alternate Report Coalition-Children’s Rights South Africa (ARC-CRSA), is an alliance driven by 11 organisations invested in realising children’s rights in the country. It came into existence to hold government accountable against provisions on treaties relevant to children’s rights by preparing the relevant alternate reports. The 11 lead organisations are: Centre for Child Law, University of Pretoria; Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town; Childline South Africa; Community Paediatrics, University of the Witwatersrand; Dullah Omar Institute, University of the Western Cape; Equal Education Law Centre; Lawyers for Human Rights; Legal Resources Centre; Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect; Save the Children South Africa; and Sonke Gender Justice.