Antigua and Barbuda

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CountryAntigua and Barbuda
Optional protocolon the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
Corporal punishmentCorporal Punishment is legal in the home, alternative care settings, day care, schools and penal institutions.Corporal punishment is unlawful as a sentence for children convicted of an offence but some provisions authorizing it are still to be formally repealed.
Overview of the child rights situation

The report from Antigua and Barbuda is relatively short and therefore contains little information on the situation of families and children in alternative care settings. The specific situation of girls, inter and trans children is also not addressed.

Female genital mutilation and reproductive rights

The Committee is concerned about reports of men having sexual relations with girls as young as 8 years old as well as the stigmatization of child victims and the low rate of prosecutions of alleged offenders.

Regarding adolescent health, the Committee recommends to develop sexual and reproductive health services, including free contraceptives and confidential counselling for adolescent girls and boys.

Situation of children with disabilities

The Committee is deeply concerned that the absence of a standard legal definition of a child with a disability, combined with the lack of reliable data and of a national policy on children with disabilities, hinders the delivery and evaluation of services for them. Also, there is no explicit legal provision mandating the provision of services for children with disabilities or their access to public buildings, public spaces and all service delivery areas.

To address these issues, the Committee urges the State party to reform the system of social assistance for children with disabilities and their families in order to improve its coherence and coordination and avoid institutionalization. Further, the State party should promote inclusive education by training and assigning specialized teachers and professionals to inclusive classes, providing individual support and due attention to children with learning difficulties, and address the shortage of speech therapists and qualified professionals for children with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities.

Situation of asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant childrenThe Committee notes that the State party has established an ad hoc committee to deal with asylum. However, it is concerned that the absence of legislation or of a specific regulation governing asylum procedures may leave refugee children vulnerable to trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Therefore, the Committee recommends that the State party accede to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and establish referral mechanisms to ensure the proper identification and protection of victims of trafficking, especially unaccompanied children, and to provide victims of trafficking, including children, an effective opportunity to seek asylum.
Free kindergartenNot clear
Free primary and secondary schoolYes
physical health

The Committee notes as positive that the State party, through the Medical Benefits Scheme, continues to offer free medical care to children under 16 years of age and that immunization coverage remains high. However, the Committee is concerned at the increasing level of obesity and malnutrition among children. Therefore, the Committee encourages Antigua and Barbuda to strengthen its efforts to improve the health-care infrastructure, including through international cooperation, in order to ensure access to free medical care and services for all children, including those between 16 and 18 years of age.
Concerning adolescent health, the Committee is concerned about the relatively high rate of teenage pregnancies and the absence of a comprehensive national programme. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned about insufficient coordination among agencies that undermines the potential to develop a strategic and sustainable response to preventing early pregnancies. Also, the increase in levels of abuse of alcohol and marijuana is not being effectively addressed.

Relation to other countries
mental health

The Committee notes the measures taken by the State party to address mental health issues. However, it is concerned about the shortage of qualified child psychiatrists and community-based mental health services.
The Committee recommends that community-based mental health services be made readily available and that steps be taken to strengthen preventive work, particularly in the home environment and in care centres. It also recommends that the number of child psychiatrists and psychologists be increased.

Impacts of climate change

Noting that the State party is prone to natural disasters, and drawing attention to target 1.5 of the Sustainable Development Goals on building the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations by 2030 so as to reduce their vulnerability to extreme climate-related events, economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters, the Committee recommends that the State party identify, including through the collection of disaggregated data, the types of risks children would face in the event of natural disasters.

Business sector

The Committee recommends to take the measures necessary to ensure that the involvement of children in all contexts is in full compliance with international child labour standards with respect to age, working hours, working conditions, education and health and explicitly prohibit the employment of children between 14 and 18 years of age in work likely to cause harm to their health, safety and morals.

Situation of juvenile justice

The Committee urges Antigua and Barbuda to ensure that the rights of the children currently protected by the presumption of lack of criminal responsibility be strengthened. The State party should also step up its efforts to transform the Boys Training School into an appropriate residential option for boys, ensuring that the arrest and detention of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time and in accordance with the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty (the Havana Rules) and other relevant standards.

Specific observations

The Committee welcomes the strides made by the State party in virtually eliminating the mother-to-child transmission of HIV and in establishing various preventive initiatives. However, it is concerned at the increasing number of girls infected with HIV and the social stigmatization and discrimination that prevents HIV-positive patients from seeking medical treatment.

The Committee also remains concerned at the lack of targeted budgetary allocations for the implementation of the Convention, particularly for those provisions affecting children in marginalized and vulnerable situations. The Committee is also concerned at the decline in the total budget allocated to the education and health sectors.

Additional background

Concluding observations on the second to fourth periodic reports released on 30 June 2017.More information about education in Antigua and Barbuda: and

Last Updated (date)1st of March, 2022