What is the CRC?
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted by United Nations in November 1989.
It is the most widely ratified treaty with 140 signatories and 196 as state members.
What are child rights?
Child rights, according CRC, can be grouped into four different categories:
- Firstly, survival rights cover the right to life and the right to the highest standard of health and medical care attainable.
- Development rights includes all forms of education, formal or informal, and the right to a standard of living which is adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.
- Protection rights include protection of various kinds of abuse and neglect, protection for children without families and protection for refugee children.
- Lastly, participation rights give the child a right to express his or her views in all matters that affects the child.
Basic principles of CRC
There are three basic principles to the treaty:
- Article 1 defines a “child” as a person below 18 years of age unless the laws of a country specifies otherwise.
- Secondly, Article 2 stipulates that the Convention applies to all children irrespective of race, religion or abilities,
- and most importantly, Article 3 covers the best interest of the child.
Malaysia and the CRC
Malaysia acceded to the Convention in 1995. As a step towards realizing the rights of the children, the government passed the Child Act in 2001 and developed a National Policy for Children and its Plan of Action in 2009, amongst many other efforts.
The Malaysian Government also
ratified the Optional Protocol 1, which covers involvement of children
in armed conflict, and Optional Protocol 2, covering sale of children,
child prostitution and pornography.
Malaysia has yet to ratify Optional Protocol 3, covering communication procedure which sets out an international complaints procedure for child rights violations.
Furthermore, the government still maintains its reservations on five core articles under the Convention, which are:
- Article 2 (the rights under CRC to each child within their jurisdiction, without discrimination of any kind)
- Article 7 (the right to be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality)
- Article 14 (the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion)
- Article 28(1)(a) (the right to free and compulsory primary education to all children)
- Article 37 (the right of not being subject to cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment and deprived of liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily)
Although Malaysia has some hesitations regarding particular parts of the Convention, the CRC has made an impact and helped influence Malaysia’s ongoing efforts in strengthening the system to accommodate the implementation of child rights.
Picture credits: Pemandu