이번 달 21일에 열린 유엔 아동권리위원회의 한국 심의 (어필 대표 참석 후기 참고) 의 내용이 공개되었습니다. 체결국의 유엔 아동권리협약 이행 현황에 관한 이 심의에서, 한국은 협약 비준 이후 더욱 폭넓은 인권의 시각으로 아동의 권리를 바라보기 시작하였으나 아직도 아동에 관한 편견과 아동 권리 위반의 사례들이 있는 것으로 평가받았습니다. 심의 위원회 전문가들은, 2008년에 3/4차 정부보고서를 제출한 이후 한국 정부에서 아동의 권리를 개선하기 위해 법률 개정, 새로운 제도 도입 등 몇몇의 비중있는 계획들을 실행하였지만, 입법적 체계, 정부 부처들과 프로그램들 간의 조화문제, 아동들의 빈곤 문제, 이주 아동, 체벌, 발언권, 입양 이슈와 헤이그 협약 (Hague Convention), 우울증과 자살 등 청소년들이 겪는 이슈들, 아동권리를 담당하는 옴부즈맨, 미혼모들의 상황, 차별문제, 미성년 노동, 낙태 등의 이슈들이 남아있음에 문제를 제기하였습니다.
Aseil Al-Shehail 한국 전문 보고관은, 한국이 아동 권리를 향한 중요한 조치를 취해왔지만 위원회의 기대수준에는 미치지 못했다고 결론지었습니다. 선택, 모임/협회, 생각과 사고의 자유를 이행하는 노력이 너무 부족했으며, 입양에 관해 적절한 사법적 관리가 반드시 필요하다고 지적하였습니다.
심의 위원회 전문가가 제기한 사항 중에는, 난민 또는 난민지원자의 자녀에 대한 출생신고가 이루어지고 있는지에 관한 질문이 있었으며, 한국에는 구금 대안 시설 ("welcome centres") 이 마련되어 있지 않기 때문에, 이주아동들이 이러한 시설에 보내어지지 못하고 일반 이주구금시설에 구금되고 있으며, 구금된 아동들에 대한 최대 구금기한 (timeline) 이 정해져 있지 않은 점을 비판하였습니다. 구금된 아동들 중에는 심지어 10살 미만인 미성년자들도 있었습니다.
이에 한국 측은, 14살 미만의 외국인 아동들은 부모님이 이주 구금 시설 (보호소)에 있을 경우 부모님과 함께 지낼 수 있도록 허락된다고 응답하였습니다.
Committee on the Rights of the Child considers the report of the Republic of Korea
Committee on the Rights of the
21 September 2011
The Committee on the Protection
of the Rights of the Child has considered the third and fourth combined reports
of the the
Presenting the report, Park
Sang-Ki, Permanent Representative of the
Experts raised questions concerning, among other matters, the legislative framework, the reservations that the Republic of Korea had formulated, coordination between ministries and programs, children suffering from poverty, migrant children, corporal punishment, the right to be heard, adoption issues and the Hague Convention, issues faced by adolescents such as depression and suicide, the ombudspersons who dealt with children’s rights, the situation of pregnant unwed girls, discrimination, child labour and abortion.
In concluding remarks, Aseil
Al-Shehail, Country Rapporteur for the
The delegation of the Republic of Korea included representatives of the Population and Child Policy Bureau, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the programme for Child and Youth Protection from Sexual Crimes from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, the Ministry of National Defence, the Human Rights Division of the Ministry of Justice, the Child Welfare Policy Division from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Human Rights and Social Affairs Division from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry of Employment and Labour, the Republic of Korea Monitoring Centre for Children’s Rights from the Republic of Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs and from the permanent mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations in Geneva.
The next public meeting of the
Committee will take place on Thursday, 22 September 2011 at 10 a.m., when the
Committee will examine the combined third and fourth periodic reports of the
Report of the Republic of the
The combined third and fourth
periodic reports of the
In 2002, the
In relation to youth, the Government introduced the “Third Basic Plan for Youth Development (2003 – 2007)” in an effort to promote their rights, expand the opportunity for participation in policymaking and strengthen social services by addressing their needs. It had been succeeded by “the Fourth Basic Plan for Youth Development”, which was launched this year with a timeline extending to 2012.
The budget for these policies and plans had been raised over the years in order to make their implementation more effective. For example, the budget dedicated to fostering the welfare of children and youth, promoting their activities and preventing sexual violence against them, grew from the estimated 1.8 trillion Korean Won in 2003 to 2.8 Korean Won in 2007. In 2008 there were major shifts in the administration of policies on children and youth. Previously, there had been several Government bodies, each mandated with overseeing a subset of those policies: the Ministry of Health and Welfare had policies focused on children, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family on childcare policies and the Government Youth Commission dealing with youth policies. Those policies had now been integrated and put under the control of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs.
Presentation of the report of the
PARK SANG-KI, Permanent
Representative of the
The “Enforcement Decree of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act” was amended in March 2011. This made it mandatory for schools to listen to students’ views when enacting or amending school regulations on student life. Meanwhile, as part of the efforts to prevent school violence, in 2010 eight Government bodies joined in establishing “the Second Five-Year Plan on the Prevention of and Countermeasures against Violence in Schools”.
Measures to specify parents’ child-related responsibilities had been implemented. Divorce by agreement was only possible when consent had been reached on the terms regarding child-raising, such as the share of cost burdens.
An alternative care system for “children in need” who did not have the benefit of parental care for various reasons was being improved. Group homes and foster care protection had been introduced. Also an act stipulating the establishment of comprehensive support measures for disabled children and their families had been enacted.
In order to better prevent child abuse and protect the victims, a larger range of people were now responsible for reporting child abuse cases and the Child Welfare Act had been reviewed.
With regard to free compulsory education for children, a “common curriculum for five-year old children” would be introduced and implemented in 2012.
“The Support for Multicultural Families Act” had been amended to ensure a stable life without discrimination for migrant children and their families. The scope of multicultural families had been expanded.
In an effort to protect children from sexual violence the government had implemented a system that provided information about persons found guilty of committing sex crimes against children. The system distributed the information to local residents and educational facilities in the neighbourhoods where the sex offenders lived.
The system regarding the “Juvenile Justice Act” and the “Act on the Treatment of Protected Juveniles” had been improved.
Questions by the Experts
JEAN ZERMATTEN, the Committee
Chairperson, said that children were still very controlled and observed, and
laws still had a paternalistic approach, the laws had not taken on board the
promotion of rights. Moreover, knowing the financial means of the
Yet there were some positive
points, such as the lifting of one of the three reservations. The Chairperson
expressed the wish to see the
Concerning the reservations, one was on article 40 (b) (5) about the appeal measures from a competent judge, and one was on international adoptions. Moreover, with regard to adoptions, why was there not more support for single mothers instead of letting them give up their child for adoption?
Was the Convention well known? It seemed that it was not invoked in the Courts. On the question of abortion, Mr. Zermatten wanted to know what the status of abortion for female children was. The law on the protection of children was underway, but the draft law on non-discrimination was suspended in May 2008. Why was it so and what had happened since? With regard to prohibition of corporal punishment, there was no national initiative. Did the Government plan to change that? Was it possible to change the legislation in order to facilitate the ratification of the Convention on Migrant Workers?
The Committee had issues
understanding the coordination between regions in the
With regard to the national action plan, many actions were undertaken for the rights of the child, but the plan was soon coming to an end. Who was managing this plan of action, and what had been set up for the end of this plan in a few months?
Concerning independent monitoring
and the national human rights institute, was this institute directly linked to
the children’s rights ombudsperson? What was
ASEIL AL-SHEHAIL, Committee
member acting as the Country Rapporteur for the
Another Expert asked whether the
Why had the
One Expert asked about civil liberties and the right of children to be heard. Certain children were forced to go to religious activities in schools even if they were not part of that religion. With regard to discrimination, one Expert highlighted that this issue seemed to be a deep-rooted phenomenon and needed much more effort. It needed the extensive efforts of the entire society.
What new measures were there to strengthen article 15, about freedom of association and assembly, not only in schools but also in the community and rural areas? The problem was acknowledged in the state party report. School authorities restricted this right of assembly. The school regulations should be based on the best interest of the child, not on political or administrative considerations. Children should have access to appropriate information as well. How was the Government working with the children themselves to protect them from harmful information through the internet, for example?
On the issue of firms and the
rights of the child, the Expert asked about corporate social responsibility.
Concerning imports, the Committee wanted to know whether The Republic of Korea
bought cotton produced in
What was the system of birth registration? Hospitals issued birth certificates, but if birth took place at home, how did this work? Were there alternative places to register?
What was the coordination system between the children’s rights monitoring centre, the recent human rights commission and the ombudsman?
How did the Government guarantee
leisure time? On the basis of discussion with children in the
On the subject of protection of privacy, was it allowed for parents to disrupt the privacy of the child?
Response by the Delegation
A national policy group existed that had held nine meetings on children’s rights in the past few years. The Committee on Asian Society and Policy moved to the Ministry of Health and Welfare. The Prime Minister was in charge of the Child Policy coordination Committee. The debates were now led in the National Policy Coordination Meetings, because the other Committee specifically on children’s rights was not functional anymore. Also, there were special annual youth conferences where youth specialists discussed various issues related to children and would then report to the Government.
The ombudspersons were ten adults
and ten children. Parental understanding of the whole system was not yet very
developed. The Monitoring Centre provided support to the group for
ombudspersons. The ombudspersons were doctors and educators. Every three
months, the ombudspersons had to report to the
There were various means for children to file complaints, including on a specific website monitored by the ombudspersons. Moreover, almost every Korean family had an internet connection. Facebook and Twitter were used by children in a useful and vibrant way. Children sometimes even posted videos of what happened in their classroom.
With regard to the ratification of the Hague Convention on adoption, the Government was making efforts by forming a task force to consider changing various domestic laws to ratify the Hague Convention.
Foster care and group homes were encouraged. Yet the increase of adoptions was not as high as expected.
As for birth registration, parents were also allowed to register births as well as doctors. Less than 0.3 per cent of births took place at home, and there was national health coverage for everyone. It was true that in the process of adoption, some people did not want others to know that their child was adopted so some registrations were not done officially. There were around 1,400 domestic adoptions last year, and around 1,000 inter-country adoptions. The economic crises were thought to have been obstacles to inter-country adoption.
Regarding abortion, it had been difficult to launch a fact-finding survey on this issue but it was still being conducted. Last year there were over 14,000 abortions throughout the country.
Questions by the Experts
One Expert asked whether there
was birth registration for children of refugees or asylum-seekers. Migrant
children were not detained in welcome centres because the
Migrant children, even irregular migrant children, had to provide identity papers when they went to school, which was a problem.
The age for criminal responsibility had been lowered from 12 to 10 years, which ran counter to the Convention. Had it lowered the curb of young offenders?
With regard to child abuse, the number of reported cases continued to grow and caused concern to the Committee. What were the efforts to prosecute sexual abuse of children, including trafficking?
Reports had indicated concern
about child labour. Did the Government have a plan to remove such practice?
Child labour was on the increase: 6.5 per cent of children aged between 15 and
19 went to work, 44 per cent worked more than six hours a day and 62 per cent
worked without a break, which ran against the Convention. Physical, verbal and
sexual abuse took place. When there were so many violations, it became forced
labour. Most enterprises did not respect labour laws but there had been no
prosecutions. The Expert pointed out that the Optional Protocol was not
entirely respected in the
Concerning migrant workers, if a parent was taken to a shelter because they were irregular, what happened to the children?
There was a specific prohibition of enrolling children in armed conflict and the Committee hoped that the sanctions for violating this prohibition would be reinforced.
With regard to mental health, child suicides had almost doubled between 2005 and 2008 – what was the government doing about it?
Concerning education for children with disabilities, many went to mainstream schools, but were in special classes. Thus they were not well integrated. The state should make better efforts for inclusive education.
What had been done to better
integrate Muslim children in the
Young offenders were separated from other offenders if there were special circumstances: what did that mean and did that happen often?
On article 11, the Hague Convention on the civil aspects had not been ratified.
There were specific courts for juvenile justice. Were judges there in charge of young offenders and did they receive special training?
It was a concern that very few migrant children were enrolled in school. What was being done to change that? There seemed to be a gender disparity in secondary schools. What was being done about that?
There was no available data on the number of children in poverty. Would the state party lead a multidisciplinary, in-depth study on the subject? This would help the implementation of the new act on children in poverty that was adopted in July 2011. With regard to school meals for children in need due to poverty, what were the exact numbers?
Adolescents were facing a very disturbing situation including problems with violence in schools, suicides, pregnancies and other issues. The Committee would like to know why those issues were happening: had the government identified specific reasons? Were there cultural, historical, sociological reasons? One Expert expressed his doubts about the efficiency of the systematic use of a diagnostic tool that would identify potential suicide risks.
Why had the bill against
discrimination been pending since 2008? Did the
With regard to registration of births, the Committee insisted that registration of births had to be compulsory, not just a possibility.
It was crucial for the Committee
to see the Optional Protocol respected, including the laws on the sale of
persons. Was that respected in the
Response by the Delegation
The Adoption Act was amended in August 2011. The adoptees now could access information on biological parents. The right to request information would be smoothly implemented. But if adoption took place a long time ago, information could not always be available.
There was a new act that
prevented discrimination against the disabled, and one act that supported the
rights of disabled children. There had been several plans and the
With regard to the suicide rate, it was indeed increasing and Ministries were cooperating to try to counter this. There were studies about depression and a tool was created to launch a survey on adolescents and to diagnose depression. Medical treatment would then be made available in schools. Teachers and friends in school could warn the medical staff if they identified a possible case of depression. Psychological teams had been dispatched to schools. The use of a diagnosing tool could indeed cause problems for privacy, but the results of the diagnosis were not sent to teachers. They were sent to experts who could intervene. Extra-curricular activities were now expanded. There were, for example, programs to take children out on visits to the countryside.
Young unwed mothers and adult unwed mothers did not benefit from the same allowance. For single mothers under 25, there was more financial help because they faced more issues. The Government was trying to counter the negative image that society had of young unwed mothers. When pregnant girls wanted to keep studying, they had access to special schools. Now the trend was to recommend group homes so they had independent space. Unwed mothers even participated in Government task forces to help the Government be more aware about their needs.
The maternal Health Act included
guidelines on abortion. Abortion was allowed when there was a risk to health.
Abortion was decreasing in the
Concerning juvenile justice, the national action plan involved a comprehensive plan that included children’s rights. The Korean Government had already implemented the first drafted plan. There was a special Juvenile Justice Act with specially trained judges working on cases involving minors. The youngest age for juvenile delinquency was 12. The Government had needed to take special measures, because there were more and more young delinquents, so the age of delinquency had been reduced to 10. But there had been very few cases this year.
As to social discrimination, one act was currently pending since 2008. This was due to the need to reviewing the existing act, and some organizations were opposing it.
As long as children resided in
A person who had been recognized
as a refugee could work in the
The amendment of the child
pornography law had expanded the definition in order to make the law stricter.
It was crucial to eliminate child pornography online; perpetrators were
punished when the government found their websites. Virtual material including
children was prohibited and the owning of it was criminalized. Sex trade
overseas was prohibited.
Children were not allowed to participate in armed conflict in the
For impoverished children who needed lunch during the holidays, local child centres ran by the Ministry of Welfare existed in communities, and would provide for the children.
The minimum age of employment for children was 15. The Ministry of Labour could allow children between 13 and 15 to work if the children consented but those were exceptional circumstances. From 13 to 15 years of age those children were the recipients of mandatory education, even if they worked. There was not yet enough data available to give more details. There were children who worked at night (seven hour shifts) but they received one and a half times the regular wage.
In the case of divorce, a child could determine which parent would have parental right. In order to respect children’s right to expression the Government was taking measures.
The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of the Child had equal effectiveness in tribunals as national legislation. In cases of conflict between the two, national legislation would have priority if it was more precise on specific situations.
ASEIL AL-SHEHAIL, Country
Rapporteur for the
PARK SANG-KI, Permanent
Representative of the
For use of the information media;
not an official record
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