Tonga

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CountrySamoa
Optional protocolon the involvement of children in armed conflict, on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, on a Communication Procedure
Safety
Corporal punishmentCorporal Punishment is legal in the home, alternative care settings, day care and schools.
Overview of the child rights situation

The report on Samoa contains a comprehensive part regarding the health sector, advising in particular to strengthen efforts regarding HIV prevention, free medical care and overcoming negative attitudes towards mental health problems.

Female genital mutilation and reproductive rights

The Committee recommends to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS with a view to changing negative attitudes and stereotyping and to promote access to free HIV testing and antiretroviral therapy, paying particular attention to pregnant adolescents and children born to mothers with HIV. The Committee further recommends that the State party adopt a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health policy for adolescents that pays attention to all aspects of prevention, including the prevention of sexually transmitted infections and early pregnancies. Additionally, the Committee recommends that the State party provide the results of the review of the current model of sexual and reproductive health education, in line with which children are educated by their parents, and develop strategies to progressively make sexual and reproductive health education part of the mandatory school curriculum.

Discrimination
Situation of children with disabilities

The Committee notes with appreciation the establishment of the National Disability Centre and the draft minimum service standards for primary and secondary schools, all of which aim to make schools accessible to children with disabilities and to ensure a safe learning environment for such children. The Committee is concerned, however, about the stigmatization of children with disabilities, including children with mental disabilities, owing to cultural attitudes.
The Committee recommends that the State party develop and launch awareness-raising programmes with a view to changing social misconceptions about children with disabilities, including children with mental disabilities, and eliminating stigmatization, in particular in rural areas and in the family. It further recommends to strengthen its efforts to implement the Inclusive Education Policy for Students Living with Disability and allocate sufficient resources for programmes such as the Samoa School Fees Grant Programme, which supports families of children with disabilities. Samoa should further ensure that there are enough specialist teachers and professionals providing individual support in all schools and that professionals are adequately trained so that children with all kinds of disabilities can effectively enjoy their right to quality inclusive education. Samoa also should improve access to all public buildings, spaces and services in all areas, especially in rural schools and communities.

Education
Free kindergartenNot clear
Free primary and secondary schoolNo
Health
physical health

To guarantee every child the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, the Committee recommends that the State party expand access to free medical care and treatment for all children as well as consider implementing policy changes and awareness-raising initiatives among parents to increase the coverage of children vaccinated against preventable diseases in the State party. The Committee further recommends to ensure that there are enough well-trained health workers for all children and pregnant women, as well as obstetric neonatal care facilities. Additionally, the Committee recommends that Samoa strengthen its efforts to improve access to basic health-care services for all children, in particular in rural and remote areas, and provide more resources to mobile clinics so that they can reach more people in rural areas. Samoa should also ensure that all schools have access to clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene facilities as well as health and physical education teachers and include the specific needs of children with disabilities in all programmes relating to access and use of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.

Relation to other countries
mental health

The Committee is concerned that the mental health of adolescents still does not receive enough attention in the State party, that there are negative attitudes towards mental health issues in society and that there is a shortage of specialized personnel, such as child psychologists. It is also concerned about the high rate of suicide among adolescents, often related to depression and teenage pregnancy.
Therefore, the Committee recommends that the State party raise awareness about mental health issues with a view to changing negative social attitudes. Also, the Committee recommends to take all measures necessary, including regional cooperation, to increase capacities and the number of personnel specialized in children with mental health issues, improve the mental health and counselling services available in the State party and ensure that they are accessible and sensitive to adolescents.

Impacts of climate change

The Committee takes note of the policies and action plans in place to address climate change and manage national disasters. It is concerned, however, that more could be done to take into account the special needs of children, including children with disabilities, when planning disaster risk reduction preparedness, response and recovery programmes.
To improve the situation, the Committee recommends that the State party ensure that the special vulnerabilities and needs of children, as well as their views, are taken into account. Furthermore, the Committee recommends that the State party increase children’s awareness of and preparedness for climate change and natural disasters by incorporating the issue of climate change into the school curriculum and in teacher training programmes and increase the physical safety and resilience of school infrastructure.
Samoa further needs to include assistance and other support to children with disabilities during emergencies and natural disasters in disaster response protocols.

Business sector

The Committee welcomes the establishment of the working group on child labour. The Committee is concerned, however, that the “hazardous child labour list” (a list of labour activities hazardous to children) has not yet been adopted, that children continue to work as vendors and that school absenteeism remains a challenge and is often forced by parents. The Committee is also concerned that children are not sufficiently aware of the existence of child-specific complaints mechanisms able to effectively receive, monitor and investigate reports of child exploitation.

Situation of juvenile justice

The Committee urges the State party to bring its juvenile justice system fully into line with the Convention and other relevant standards. In particular, the Committee urges the State party to ensure, in cases where detention is unavoidable, that children are not imprisoned together with adults, do not share accommodation with prison staff and that detention conditions are compliant with international standards, including with regard to access to education, health services, water, sanitation and food. Samoa should also prohibit forced labour for juvenile detainees, ensure that adequate time is allocated to their education and vocational training and raise the awareness of judges and police officers about the needs of children and about alternatives to detention.
The Committee also urges the State party to provide statistical data on the number of children who come into conflict with the law and the type of offences, the status of the cases, the investigations and the conviction of perpetrators.

Specific observations

The Committee notes that the State party has made some progress in terms of birth registration coverage among children under 5 years of age, from 48 per cent in 2009 to 59 per cent in 2014, and that there is a new computerized registration system with a number of features for detecting false registrations. It remains concerned, however, that the number of registered births continues to be low and that there are differences in the number of birth notifications depending on whether a child is born in a national health facility or in a village with the help of traditional birth attendants. The Committee is also concerned that birth registration is not free and that the stigmatization of young and unwed mothers hinders the registration of correct information, as when children are reportedly registered by their grandparents.

Additional background

Concluding observations on the second to fourth periodic reports released on 12 July 2016. Samoa has a reservation to article 28 (1) (a) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Last Updated (date)1st of March, 2022