Committee on the Rights of the Child: Optional Protocol on Communications

Applies to/Se aplica a

State practice
State law
Individual cases
For Urgent Action
Only under 18-s
A

Summary

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure from 19 December 2011 (see http://treaties.un.org/doc/source/signature/2012/CTC_4-11d.pdf) establishes an individual complaints mechanism, allowing individuals to complain to the Committee on the Rights of the Child about a violation of the Convention or any one of the Optional Protocols to which the State is a party. Before submitting a complaint, domestic remedies have to be exhausted, unless these would be unreasonably prolonged or not effective. The complaint should also not have been submitted to any other procedure of international investigation or settlement.

If the Committee finds that a State Party has failed in its obligations under the CRC or its Optional Protocols, it will require that the violation be remedied and ask the State Party to provide follow-up information in this regard. The decisions of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and its follow-up activities are made public and are included in the Committee' Annual Report to the General Assembly.

At the time of writing (August 2012), the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure was not yet in force, as it had not yet been ratified by more than 10 States. Check for the status of ratification at http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-11-...

1. Likely result from use of the mechanism

The Committee on the Rights of the Child will either declare the case inadmissible, or publish its views on the case if it finds on a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child or one of the Optional Protocols. If a violation is found, the Committee may recommend that the State concerned make amends, or rectify the situation.
The Committee might also attempt to reach a friendly settlement between the State Party and the victim or victims.

2. To which States does the mechanism apply?

This mechanism applies to States parties to the CRC which have also signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure. Check for the status of ratification at http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-11-....
A complaint can be brought against any State which had jurisdiction over the victim at the moment of the violation, and which has at the same time ratified the Optional Protocol.

3. Who can submit information?

Under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure the Committee can receive individual Communications (complaints) from any individual under the jurisdiction of a State that is party to the Optional Protocol who claims that his or her rights under the Convention have been violated by the State Party.
If you wish to file a complaint on behalf of someone else or a group, you must submit proof of consent from each of the victims you wish to represent in writing, or proof why they are incapable of giving such consent.

4. When to submit information?

According to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure, complaints have to be submitted within one year of exhaustion of domestic remedies, except where it can be demonstrated that it had not been possible to submit the communication within the time limit.

5. Special rules of procedure or advice on making a submission

At the time of writing, the Committee had not yet adopted rules of procedure for submitting complaints (communications) under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure. Please check the website of the Committee at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/sessions.htm for updates.

The following is therefore adapted from the guidelines for submissions to the Human Rights Committee:

How to write a complaint:

The complaint mechanisms are designed to be simple and accessible to all. You do not need to be a lawyer or even familiar with legal and technical terms to bring a complaint to a Committee.

For a complaint to be admissible, it needs to meet the following requirements:

  • It has to be submitted by the individual whose rights have been violated, or with the written consent of the individual. Only in exceptional cases, where the individual concerned is unable to give consent, this requirement may be ignored. Anonymous complaints will not be considered.
  • Domestic remedies need to have been exhausted, which means all domestic appeal procedures need to have been tried. However, if you can demonstrate that local remedies are not effective (for example, because the highest court of the country already ruled on a very similar case), not available, or unduly prolonged, this requirement may be ignored.
  • Not be under consideration by another international investigation or settlement procedure.

A complaint, sometimes also called a “communication” or a “petition” need not take any particular form. However, it needs to be in writing and signed (which means email complaints will not be considered). It should provide basic personal information - your name, nationality and date of birth - and specify the State party against which your complaint is directed.

A complaint needs to include – preferably in chronological order – all the facts on which your claim is based, and all efforts that have been made to exhaust domestic remedies (include copies of relevant court decisions and a summary in one of the working languages of the Committee).

It is useful to quote the relevant treaty or Optional Protocol articles which correspond to your case. It should be explained how the facts of the case disclose a violation of those articles.

Emergency procedures:

If there is a fear of irreparable harm (for example in cases of imminent execution or deportation to torture) before the Committee has examined the case, it is possible to request an intervention by the committee to stop an imminent action (or omission) by a State, which may cause such harm.

6. What happens to the submission (how long will it take)?

As the Optional Protocol was not yet in force at the time of writing, there is presently no experience with complaints to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

7. History of the use of the mechanism

As the Optional Protocol was not yet in force at the time of writing, it could not be used yet.

Contact Details: 
Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Human Rights Treaties Division (HRTD) Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Palais Wilson - 52, rue des Pâquis CH-1201 Geneva (Switzerland) Tel.: +41 22 917 91 41 Fax: +41 22 917 90 08 E-mail: crc@ohchr.org
Views (jurisprudence)

None