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Optional protocolon the involvement of children in armed conflict, on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
ViolenceThe Committee notes with regret that child abuse, including domestic violence, is underreported and insufficiently documented in Belgium.
Corporal punishmentCorporal Punishment is legal in the home, alternative care settings and day care. Corporal punishment is considered unlawful in schools but as yet legislation has not been reformed to include explicit prohibition.
Overview of the child rights situation

In Belgium, a remarkable law passed on vote in 2014, which removed all age restrictions from euthanasia. The dealing with unaccompanied children needs improvement as well as the dealing with females and girls’ self-determination.

Situation of intersexual and transsexual childrenThe Committee urges the State party to prohibit medically unnecessary surgeries and other procedures on intersex children before they are able to provide their informed consent.
Female genital mutilation and reproductive rights

Sexual harassment in public spaces is commonplace and sexual abuse by religious personnel in the Catholic church is persistent. Also, Child marriage and female genital mutilation, which is prevalent among populations with a migrant background, remains underreported.

The Committee urges the State party to establish protection schemes and care programmes for victims of child marriage and female genital mutilation.

Racism, children belonging to a minority and indigenous childrenThe Committee is concerned that schools are allowed to ban wearing religious symbols, such as Islamic headscarves, which stigmatizes and discriminates against children, particularly girls of Muslim faith, and may influence their choice of school, further studies and employment. The Committee recommends that the State party take all measures necessary to ensure the full implementation of the rights of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and to non-discrimination.
Situation of children with disabilities

The Committee urges Belgium to improve the collection of data on children with disabilities and to improve providing inclusive education for all children with disabilities.

Situation of asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant childrenA number of unaccompanied and separated children have been subjected to different forms of abuse, including physical violence by local police, unlawful detention for more than 24 hours and a lack of systematic referral to the guardianship service and other child protection authorities, while children are not aware of their rights and complaint mechanisms. Unaccompanied children are housed in adult asylum-seeker centres, while children in transit do not have access to shelter.<br /> The Committee urges to put an end to the detention of children in closed centres and to ensure that the best interests of the child are a primary consideration, including in matters relating to asylum and family reunification.<br /> The Committee recommends to improve the provision of shelter to unaccompanied children, including by ensuring the availability of the youth welfare system, and foster care for all unaccompanied children, regardless of their age.
Free kindergartenYes
Free primary and secondary schoolYes
Digital possibilitiesThe Committee urges the state party to strengthen measures to combat bullying, including cyberbullying.
physical health

The Committee reminds the State party of the need to ensure the fullest possible review and control of decisions on euthanasia in relation to children, including by a judge, to guarantee that such decisions are not the subject of undue influence or misapprehension.
The Committee recommends to strengthen the efforts to prevent and combat obesity and the incidence of substance abuse, particularly of cannabis, tobacco and alcohol. The Committee urges the State party to raise the legal age for buying tobacco to 18 years.

Relation to other countries
mental health

The Committee is deeply concerned at the growing number of children suffering from psychological problems, such as stress, and at the high prevalence of suicide in children. Seeking mental health care is negatively perceived in Belgium.
The Committee further recommends to address the increased diagnosis of ADHD and other behavioural specificities, and the use of drug treatments for the children diagnosed.

Impacts of climate change

The Committee notes a high level of air pollution, particularly from road transport and its negative impact on the climate and on children’s health, contributing to an increase in asthma and respiratory diseases.

Business sector

A national forum on the topic the Children’s Rights and Business Principles was established.

Situation of juvenile justice

The Committee welcomes the extension of the right to legal assistance to every suspect from the first interrogation and the establishment of the family and youth court. Meanwhile, it is concerned that the age for imposing penalties was lowered from 16 to 14 years old, and that new penalties were introduced.
The Committee recommends to eliminate all possibility that a child is tried in an adult court or detained with adults and recommends to ensure that accessible and qualified legal assistance is provided without delay.

Specific observations

The Committee recommends to carry out a legislative review to consider access to information of children born through assisted reproduction about their origins.

Additional BackgroundConcluding observations on the fifth and sixth periodic reports released on 28 February 2019.
Last Updated (date)2nd of March, 2022