The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child requires states to ensure that children are protected from all forms of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment by parents and others caring for the child (article 16) and that parents and other persons responsible for childrearing must ensure discipline is respects the child's dignity.
Art. 16: “(1) States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and especially physical or mental injury or abuse, neglect or maltreatment including sexual abuse, while in the care of [parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child]....”
Art. 20: “(1) Parents, or other persons responsible for the child shall have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child and shall have the duty ... (c) to ensure that domestic discipline is administered with humanity and in a manner consistent with the inherent dignity of the child."
Monitoring implementation of the Charter
Implementation of the Charter is monitored by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC). In 2011, the Committee issued a statement on violence against children, in which it stated that notions which accept, tolerate and encourage violence against children, including the acceptance of corporal punishment, should be publicly condemned and eliminated and that it is necessary to incorporate the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child into the domestic laws of each country, particularly in relation to corporal punishment of children.
“... The Committee of Experts calls for the firm engagement of African States, at the highest level, to support the eradication of all forms of violence against children. In many countries in the continent, don’t we find that society still tolerates and sometimes condones certain recurrent forms of violence against children, especially in families? However, no tradition, religion, belief, economic situation or educational method should justify these practices.... A clear and unambiguous rejection of all forms of violence, even moderate ones, against children should be encouraged by society as a whole. The notions deeply rooted in the social and cultural norms and traditions which accept, tolerate and indeed encourage violence, including sexist clichés, racial or ethnic discrimination, the acceptance of corporal punishment and other harmful traditional practices should be publicly condemned and eliminated. The harmful consequences that all forms of violence can have on children should be widely publicised.
“... it is necessary to continue to incorporate the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which guarantee the best interest of the child in the domestic laws of each country, particularly in relation to the deep concerns raised with regards to corporal punishment of children....”
The Committee has increasingly examined states parties to the Charter on their progress towards prohibiting corporal punishment and has recommended its prohibition in all settings, including the home.Extracts from the Committee's recommendations on corporal punishment of children can be accessed here by session and by state. Recommendations are also included in the individual country reports.
- All recommendations on corporal punishment by the ACERWC are included in the relevant individual country report for the state concerned
- Compilation of ACERWC recommendations on corporal punishment
- Full text of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
- Full text of ACERWC "Statement on violence against children" (2011) - English