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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 is deeply concerned about the impact that the armed conflict has on the right to life, survival and development of children in the Syrian Arab Republic, and particularly about credible and corroborated information on the thousands of children killed and injured as a result of attacks, including airstrikes, with the use of indiscriminate, disproportionate or unlawful weapons, such as barrel bombs, cluster munitions and toxic chemical agents, by Syrian armed forces and other parties to the conflict.
Corporal punishmentCorporal Punishment is legal in the home, alternative care settings, day care, schools and penal institutions.
Overview of the child rights situation

The Committee recognizes the particularly severe effects of the ongoing armed conflict, political instability and presence of armed groups – some defined as terrorist groups – and the rise of religious extremism in the State party, which lead to grave violations of children’s rights by all parties to the conflict and constitute a serious obstacle to the implementation of the rights enshrined in the Convention. The Committee reminds the State party of the continuity of international human rights obligations and that the rights under the Convention apply to all children at all times, and that the State party bears the primary responsibility to protect children and should therefore take immediate measures to prevent further violence against them. The Committee notes the difficulty in ensuring children’s rights in territories where the State party does not exercise effective control, including the occupied Syrian Golan. The Committee reminds the State party that during any reconstruction efforts it has the obligation to guarantee all rights in the Convention to all children throughout the territory without discrimination, independently of where they live, and to promote a culture of tolerance, peace and reconciliation among all communities.

The report from Syria is dominated by the war in the country. This leads to bombed hospitals and therefore few health services as well as much violence and children killed by weapons.

Female genital mutilation and reproductive rights

The Committee urges the State party to ensure that allegations of crimes related to gender-based violence, such as the imposition of religious dress codes, with girls as young as 10 punished with lashings if failing to abide, the denial of freedom of movement of girls without a male relative, the stoning of girls on charges of adultery, and forced marriage of girls to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant fighters, are independently and thoroughly investigated, and that perpetrators are brought to justice and victims provided with remedies. The State party should provide, on a regular basis, substantive training for judges, lawyers, prosecutors, the police and other relevant professional groups on standardized, gender- and child-sensitive procedures for dealing with those victims.

Situation of children with disabilities

The Committee is concerned about the impact of the armed conflict on children with disabilities, including with regard to their access to health services and education. The Committee urges the State party to adopt a human rights-based approach to disability, set up a comprehensive strategy for the inclusion of children with disabilities and organize the collection of data on children with disabilities and develop an efficient system for diagnosing disability, and strengthen referral mechanisms and case management processes.
Syria should also support and encourage family-based care for children with disabilities, accelerate their deinstitutionalization process, and encourage foster care for children who cannot stay with their families as well as develop appropriate policies and programmes for children with disabilities, with their participation, paying attention to children whose disabilities are a result of the armed conflict. Also, Syria needs to ensure that children with disabilities have access to health care and medical rehabilitation services, including early detection, psychosocial support and access to orthopaedic devices.

Situation of asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant childrenThe Committee recommends that the State party adopt a law for asylum seekers and refugees, ensure that children have access to identity documents, health services, education and a minimum standard of living, take measures to assist the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Syrian children, and consider acceding to the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
Free kindergartenNo
Free primary and secondary schoolYes
Digital possibilitiesWhile noting the efforts made to protect children from harmful information, the Committee recommends that the State party ensure children’s access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources of all forms, including the Internet, with a view to guaranteeing the child’s exposure to a plurality of opinions.
physical health

The Committee is deeply concerned about the devastating impact of the armed conflict on health services, and condemns the attacks carried out against health facilities and medical staff. Therefore, the Committee urges the State party to take prompt measures to halt attacks against medical facilities and personnel by all parties to the conflict, and investigate, prosecute and sanction those responsible for illegal attacks under international humanitarian and human rights law. Also, increase the budgetary allocations to health, giving due priority to health infrastructure and restoration of services; and scale up its efforts for the reconstruction, rehabilitation and equipment of health facilities for children as well as strengthen its efforts to ensure access to health services for all children without discrimination, paying attention to areas again under State control and those under the control of non-State armed groups, and refrain from removing health items and medicine from convoys to besieged areas. The Committee further recommends to strengthen its efforts to ensure the provision of vaccines and medicine to contain outbreaks of preventable diseases such as typhoid, acute diarrhoea and cholera and take the measures necessary to combat child malnutrition.

Relation to other countries
mental health

The Committee notes the steps taken by the State party to provide mental health services to children in its health centres, but is deeply concerned about children suffering from various mental health illnesses as a consequence of the armed conflict and of torture and ill-treatment, sexual violence and abuse, child marriage, gender-based violence, displacement, recruitment by parties to the conflict and use in hostilities. The Committee urges the State party to strengthen its efforts to provide mental health services to children at primary and secondary care level throughout the territory, without discrimination and paying particular attention to children living in areas retaken by the State or previously under siege. Syria also needs to prioritize access to counselling and therapy for children over the use of medication as well as encourage and facilitate access to mental-health services for children in areas controlled by non-State armed groups.

Impacts of climate change

Concerned about the damage to the environment generated and exacerbated by weapons-related contamination, damage to critical infrastructure, including water treatment facilities and sewage systems, and the breakdown of environmental services in the context of the armed conflict and its immediate and long-term risks to children’s health, and the long-term environmental consequences, the Committee recommends that the State party devise and implement a system of response and assistance to enhance protection of the population, especially children, and the environment.

Business sector

The Committee is concerned about the increased number of children involved in child labour, including in hazardous and vulnerable conditions, noting such involvement as a negative mechanism for coping with the hardships caused by the armed conflict, and recommends that the State party adopt the draft national action plan to combat the worst forms of child labour and strengthen its efforts to effectively implement the memorandum of understanding it signed with the International Labour Organization in that regard.

Situation of juvenile justice

The Committee recommends that the State party raise the legal age of criminal responsibility; ensure that children in detention are separated from adults; investigate all cases of ill-treatment and abuse and punish the perpetrators; provide legal aid to children in conflict with the law; and ensure that children have access to a confidential, safe and child-sensitive mechanism for complaints related to their deprivation of liberty.

Specific observations

The Committee is deeply concerned about the extensive and consistent reports of cases of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of children detained by government forces and non-State armed groups, and regrets the lack of information on measures taken by the State party.

Additional background

Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report released on 6 March 2019. The Committee encourages the State party to consider withdrawing its general reservation to the Convention, including its reservation regarding article 14. More information about education in Syria:

Last Updated (date)16th of February, 2022