The pre-session working group of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child met in Geneva from 2 to 6 October. On 27 February 1991, the Committee was implemented and inaugurated. The 18 independent experts rigorously selected for their ability on the rights of the child and for their high moral character, insure the successful implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. All Member States of the UN must respect the principles defined by the Convention. If these principles are not applied, then the organ will intervene.
But does France respect this Convention?
After the Allied Victory in 1945, France joins the UN and becomes one of the five members of the Security Council. Therefore, France may veto all resolutions taken by the UN. Thus, France becomes an undeniable political power and continues to increase its influence sphere on the international stage. Its illustration of democracy and its rule of Law inspire tens of countries where human rights are violated. However, does France truly respect human rights and more particularly the rights of the child? The following stories may give you a response element.
Samir*, Karim* and Aliya*: 3 revolting but usual stories
When Samir’s parents enrolled him in this Childcare Centre of Loiret, they requested them not to feed their child with any meat. Consequently, their enrolment request had been rejected and only the intervention of the Delegate of the Human Rights Ombudsman permitted to put an end to this discriminatory attitude.
Nevertheless, the matter did not stop here. The little Samir, who warned beforehand that he does not eat meat, disposed of his meat in the collective bin. However, the lunch lady retrieved the meat from the collective bin and put this meat into the child dish. This same lunch lady, along with two other lunch ladies, instructed Samir to eat this meat and used a certain psychological pressure on the child by staying alongside the child till he does accept to eat a piece of the meat. Forced to swallow this piece of meat, Samir went back home, traumatised. He burst into tears and told his parents his experience. Since this trauma, the child suffers from enuresis and fears every single day the lunchtime. In order to alleviate this permanent anguish, a psychologist treated the child.
Unfortunately, Samir case is not an isolated one. In grade 4 (9 years old), Karim is relentlessly harassed by the other children and schoolmasters. Punishments, verbal aggressions from school masters “There is no need to come back school.” “I do not pass on my knowledge to a wog like you!”, verbal and physical aggressions from pupils “You are a trampoline, if you tell it to the master you’re dead!” “Now you’re on crutches, next time you won’t walk anymore.”, physical aggression from a master who held him by the coat and pushed him into the bush. Bullied, Karim is targeted and feels alone against all comers. Becoming the real scapegoat of his school, everybody gangs up against him and overwhelms him of faults.
Around 8-armed policemen attended Aliya’s school and brought the five years little girl to the hospital. It is the month of Ramadan and the little girl refuses to have her 10H30am light snack. Her school accused her of fasting and states that she is in situation of malnutrition. Her mother explains that Aliya does not fast and that she only had a substantial breakfast but her comments were not enough. Although the medical tests did not show any irregularity, Aliya’s parents are subject to social services investigation. The shortcut made between the parents’ religious background and the little girl’s refusal to eat is only based on value judgements from the teaching staff. Yet, it is these same value judgements that upset the quiet life of a 5-years little girl and her parents.
The final word
The CCIF (the Collective Against Islamophobia in France) wants to remind that the four fundamental principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child have been violated. These principles are known as follows: the best interest of the child, the non-discrimination, the right to live, survive and grow up, and the respect for the child’s views and beliefs, including religious ones.
The CCIF also wants to praise the initiative led by the pre-session working group of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. We are aware that the situation of children is more or less alarming according to the Member State where they live. Nevertheless, we would like to encourage the Committee to assert the rights of the child in all 193 Member States including the ones where the situation of the children seems stable. Once again, we welcome the meritorious approach of the Committee and hope that it will be able to issue resolutions on the situation of children in France.
*All names have been modified.