Last updated: October 2017
Flag of St Maarten Country report for St Maarten

Summary of law reform necessary to achieve full prohibition

Law reform has been achieved. Corporal punishment is prohibited in all settings, including the home.

Legality of corporal punishment


Corporal punishment is prohibited in the home. Law reform following the achievement of autonomy in 2010 included the Joint Custody Ordinance 2013, which amends article 247 of the Civil Code to state (unofficial translation): (1) Parental authority includes the duty and right of the parent to care for and raise his or her minor child. (2) Caring for and raising the child includes care and responsibility for the mental and physical wellbeing and safety of the child and the development of his or her personality. In the care and upbringing of the child the parents will not use mental or physical violence or any other degrading treatment.” The article applies to all persons acting in loco parentis. The new provisions mirror those in the Civil Code in the Netherlands (Europe), where prohibition in all settings was achieved in 2007. Corporal punishment is punishable under the Penal Code 2012.

In May 2012 the Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten, in a case in which a crèche employee had been summarily dismissed after striking a child with the permission of the mother, ruled that hitting children will not be tolerated, and that anyone who does so will be punished.[1]


Alternative care settings

Corporal punishment is prohibited in alternative care settings under the 2013 amendments to the Civil Code (see under “Home”).


Day care

Corporal punishment is prohibited in early childhood care and in day care for older children under the 2013 amendments to the Civil Code (see under “Home”).



Corporal punishment is unlawful in schools under the Civil Code as amended in 2013.


Penal institutions

Corporal punishment is unlawful as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions, but we have no details of prohibiting legislation other than the Civil Code provision (see under “Home”).


Sentence for crime

Corporal punishment is unlawful as a sentence for crime. There is no provision for judicial corporal punishment in criminal law.


Universal Periodic Review of the Netherlands’ human rights record

The Kingdom of the Netherlands was examined in the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2008 (session 1). No recommendation was made specifically concerning corporal punishment of children.

Examination in the second cycle of the UPR took place in 2012 (session 13). The following recommendations were made:[2]

“Prohibit corporal punishment in all settings through the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Slovenia);

“Build on this success (achieving a total prohibition of corporal punishment of children in all settings in the European part of the Dutch territory) and ensure that this prohibition is also duly implemented in Aruba and the Netherland Antilles by enacting the necessary legislation in this regard (Hungary)”

The Government responded to the recommendations by stating: “Violence in parenting has been formally prohibited in the Netherlands for several years. In Aruba corporal punishment is prohibited by law in schools, and legislation to extend the prohibition to the family setting is expected in 2012. In Curaçao, the Civil Code was amended to define parents’ role as that of caregivers and educators, prohibiting them from employing emotional or physical violence or any other form of humiliating treatment in parenting their children. The same goes for Sint Maarten since passing of the National Ordinance on Parental Authority in 2011 amending the Civil Code.”[3]

The Netherlands’ third cycle examination took place in 2017 (session 27). The following recommendations were made:[4]

“Ensure that its legislation addresses all forms of violence, explicitly prohibits corporal punishment in all settings and includes measures to raise awareness of positive, non-violent and participatory forms of child-rearing throughout the Kingdom, in particular in Aruba as well as in the Caribbean Netherlands (Liechtenstein)”

“Intensify its efforts in relation to children’s rights including particularly the Caribbean countries forming part of the State, including to prohibit corporal punishment in all settings; to develop and implement public awareness programmes; to reduce the rate of school drop-out and intensify efforts to eradicate child labour; to raise the minimum age of recruitment in the military to 18 years and to ratify the Optional protocol to the CRC on a communications procedure without reservations (Ireland)”

The Government accepted both recommendations, stating in regards to the first one: “Violence has already been made punishable by law in the Penal Code of Bonaire, St Eustatius, and Saba. In addition, the punishment can be increased by one-third if the offender committed the criminal offence against his or her child (among other parties). Corporal punishment in schools is prohibited by Aruban law. The New Civil Code includes a prohibition of corporal punishment in the family setting. In Curaçao, legislation addressing corporal punishment already exists.”[5]

Prevalence/attitudinal research for St Maarten in the last 10 years

None identified.


[1] BW8379, Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten, and of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba, EJ 50447/11 – H 24/12

[2] 9 July 2012, A/HRC/21/15, Report of the working group, paras. 98(18) and 98(75)

[3] 12 October 2012, A/HRC/21/15/Add.1/Rev.1, Report of the working group: Addendum, page 3

[4] 18 May 2017, A/HRC/WG.6/27/L.13, Draft report of the Working Group, paras. 5(117) and 5(154)

[5] 14 September 2017, A/HRC/36/15/Add.1, Report of the working group: Addendum, page 6

Child population

11,529 (Department of Statistics, St Maarten, 2010)

National and regional advocacy for law reform


Forthcoming treaty body examinations and UPRs

For information on upcoming examinations, see the Netherlands' online country report.


Sint Maarten is a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It was a part of the Netherlands Antilles but this was dismantled in October 2010 following constitutional reforms within the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Sint Maarten became autonomous. The law of the Netherlands Antilles applies until new legislation is enacted by the Sint Maarten parliament.

It appears the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities all apply in St Maarten, as they do in the Netherlands. Article 17 of the European Social Charter, on which states’ obligation to prohibit is based, does not apply.

For extracts from the concluding observations of treaty bodies concerning corporal punishment of children, see the downloadable country reports for St Maarten accessible via the links above or go to the Netherlands country report

This is an automatic translation service. Extracts from laws, treaty body recommendations and Universal Periodic Review outcomes are unofficial translations.