Sao Tome

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CountrySao Tome
ViolenceThe Committee is concerned that traditional practices frequently take place in the State party that are harmful to children’s and adolescents’ health and well-being. In particular, the Committee is concerned about the practices of pisar barriga e dar vumbada, boló Mindjan, curar angina, arrancar barriga, and queimar agua. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned that the widespread belief in witchcraft practised by curandeiros or shamans frequently results in delayed medical treatment for children and the unnecessary exacerbation of treatable ailments.
Corporal punishmentCorporal Punishment is legal in in the home, alternative care settings and day care; prohibition in schools and penal institutions requires confirmation.
Overview of the child rights situation

In Sao Tome, many children live in poverty and the countermeasures are not effective enough. In addition, health care is often inadequate, partly because people believe in the healing powers of witches, but the overall quality of the health care system also needs to be improved.

Female genital mutilation and reproductive rights

The Committee is deeply concerned about the high rate of adolescent pregnancies in the State party, especially on the island of Principe. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned at the stigma, discrimination and resulting obstacles to services and education to which pregnant teenagers and adolescent mothers are frequently subjected. To improve the situation, the Committee recommends to adopt a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health policy for adolescents and ensure that sexual and reproductive health education is part of the mandatory school curriculum and targeted at adolescent girls and boys, with special attention on preventing early pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections as well as to develop and implement a policy to protect the rights of pregnant teenagers, adolescent mothers and their children and combat discrimination against them.

Situation of children with disabilities

The Committee urges the State party to adopt a human rights-based approach to disability, and specifically recommends that it take measures to compile and analyse disaggregated data on children with disabilities and use these data, and consult with children with disabilities with a view to informing the formulation of policy and practical measures to meet their needs. It further urges the State party to conduct long-term awareness-raising programmes in order to combat negative societal attitudes prevailing against children with disabilities. In addition, Sao Tome should ensure that children with disabilities effectively enjoy their right to education, and provide for their inclusion in the mainstream education system to the greatest extent possible, including by specifically identifying current inadequacies in resources and establishing clear objectives with concrete timelines for the implementation of measures to address the educational needs of children with disabilities.

Free kindergartenNot clear
Free primary and secondary schoolNot clear
physical health

The Committee notes as positive that the primary health-care services in the State party provide free consultations and medication for children under 5 years, pregnant women, chronically ill persons and children under the national school health programme. The Committee also notes as positive the significant progress made in reducing infant and under-5 mortality rates. However, the Committee is concerned that the resources allocated for training health-care personnel and the overall quality of health care, particularly at local levels, remain inadequate. The Committee is also concerned that the maternal mortality rate in the State party remains high.
To guarantee every child the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, the Committee recommends that the State party take the necessary measures to allocate adequate human, technical and financial resources to improve the quality of health care and provide quality training for health-care personnel, particularly at the local level. It further recommends to conduct surveys and studies on the extent and root causes of maternal mortality throughout the country, and apply the findings for formulating and implementing comprehensive programmes to address maternal mortality.

Relation to other countries
Business sector

The Committee recommends that the State party establish a clear regulatory framework for all businesses, particularly the extractive and cocoa industries operating in the State party, to ensure that their activities do not negatively affect human rights or endanger environmental and other standards, especially those relating to children’s and women’s rights. Sao Tome should also ensure effective implementation by companies, especially those in the extractive industries, of international and national environment and health standards, effective monitoring of the implementation of these standards, and appropriately sanction and provide remedies when violations occur, as well as ensure that appropriate international certification is sought. The Committee further recommends to require companies to carry out assessments, consultations and full public disclosure of the environmental, health-related and human rights impacts of their business activities, and their plans to address such impacts.

Situation of juvenile justice

The Committee urges the State party to bring its juvenile justice system fully into line with the Convention and with other relevant standards. In particular, the Committee urges the State party to expeditiously establish specialized juvenile court facilities and procedures with adequate human, technical and financial resources, designate specialized judges for children and ensure that such specialized judges receive appropriate education and training. The Committee further recommends to ensure the provision of qualified and impartial legal aid to children in conflict with the law at an early stage of the procedure and throughout the legal proceedings.
Sao Tome should also promote alternative measures to detention wherever possible, and ensure that detention is used as a last resort and for the shortest possible period of time and that it is reviewed on a regular basis with a view to withdrawing it. In cases where detention is unavoidable, Sao Tome should ensure that children are not detained together with adults and that detention conditions are compliant with international standards, including with regard to access to education and health services.

Specific observations

While noting the recent progress in access to safe drinking water in the State party, the Committee remains concerned that only 60 per cent of the population living in rural areas have safe drinking water and only 35 per cent have adequate sanitation. It is concerned that the severely limited access to adequate sanitation facilities has a major negative impact on children’s health. While noting as positive the adoption of a Poverty Reduction Strategy Plan 2012-2016, the Committee is concerned at its inadequate focus on child poverty, which has a high rate of incidence in the State party.

Additional BackgroundConcluding observations on the second to fourth periodic reports released on 29 October 2013.
Last Updated (date)22nd of February, 2022