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Children’s rights and juvenile justice at UPR examination of Burkina Faso

On Monday, 22 April 2013 during its 16th Session in Geneva, Switzerland, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group examined Burkina Faso’s human rights record. Burkina Faso was represented by a 17-member delegation headed by Mrs. Julie Somda-Nigna, Minister of Human Rights and Civic Promotion.

The Coalition for Children’s Rights of Burkina Faso (COBUFADE), in which Defence for Children International (DCI) is a member, submitted a joint written statement to the UPR Working Group expressing its concern at the absence of a child protection code and widespread violence against children in Burkina Faso.

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In their statement, COBUFADE recommended to Burkina Faso to draft, adopt, and implement a children’s code in full conformity with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and to enact legislation explicitly prohibiting corporal punishment of children in the home and in all schools and care settings as a matter of priority.

In their presentation to the Working Group, Burkina Faso representatives touched upon their efforts to address children’s rights issues, which included the Government setting up a national committee to eradicate child labour and to uphold the rights of the child, the prohibition of corporal punishment by law, efforts to prohibit female genital mutilation and other harmful practices, and creation of programmes to combat child prostitution and pornography.

In total 85 States participated in the Burkina Faso UPR dialogue. In relation to juvenile justice issues, States recommended to Burkina Faso to undertake a reform of its juvenile justice system, to take necessary steps to establish an effective national preventive mechanism to improve prisoners’ conditions and to investigate all allegations of torture and ill treatment committed by law enforcement, and to formally abolish the death penalty.

Regarding children’s rights, States recommended to Burkina Faso to redouble its efforts to sensitize the public about female genital mutilation, to set up a national action plan to combat violence against women and children, and to enact legal penalties for violations of the law prohibiting the worst forms of child labour, particularly in the mining sector, bringing the Penal Code in line with the African Charter on the rights and well-being of the child.

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Burkina Faso is scheduled to take place on Friday, 26 April 2013.