Sunday 11 December 2016

Ireland 'violating children’s rights' due to failure to ban smacking in the home - Europe

Published 27/05/2015 | 12:16

Fresh calls to ban the smacking of children
Fresh calls to ban the smacking of children

Fresh calls have been made to ban the smacking of children following a scathing report by the Council of Europe.

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The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) found Ireland is violating children’s rights due to its failure to ban corporal punishment in the home.

Tanya Ward, chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said the decision firmly puts the spotlight on Ireland to ban smacking.

“Up to now, Ireland has permitted corporal punishment of children in the home, which is out of kilter with most other European countries,” said Ms Ward.

“In recent days, the world has witnessed Ireland’s decision to introduce marriage equality and is now asking – how can children not yet have equal protection in the law?”

“Today’s decision by the committee finds that Irish domestic law does not ‘prohibit and penalise all forms of violence against children within the family, in certain types of care or certain types of pre-school settings'."

These are said to includes acts or behaviour likely to affect their physical integrity, dignity, development or psychological development or wellbeing.

"This is mainly because parents or carers can rely on the common law defence of reasonable chastisement in our laws when disciplining children," she added.

The ECSR said complaints were lodged with the Council of Europe in February 2013 against seven member countries - Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Ireland, Italy, Cyprus, Slovenia.

The committee published two of those decisions today and found Ireland and Slovenia were in breach of the European Social Charter.

It said the corporal punishment of children is not prohibited in a sufficiently clear, binding and precise manner under legislation or case-law in either country.

“Violence against children, including corporal punishment, is a major abuse of their human rights, and equal protection under the law must be guaranteed to them,” it said.

“The Council of Europe has been working to see corporal punishment of children outlawed in each of its 47 member countries, and positive parenting programmes set up by governments to encourage parents to make the family violence-free.”

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