On 20 September 2019, the Parliament of Georgia adopted the Code on the Rights of the Child which explicitly prohibits corporal punishment of children in all settings. Article 53.2 of the Code states (unofficial translation):
Corporal punishment, torture or any other cruel, degrading or inhuman treatment or punishment of children shall be prohibited in the family, preschool or general education institutions, alternative care services, medical and/or psychiatric institutions, penitentiary facilities and any other places. The commission of such acts shall be punishable under the effective legislation of Georgia.”
In relation to the home setting, the Code explicitly prohibits all forms of corporal punishment and other humiliating punishment (article 24.5, unofficial translation):
The application of the methods in the process of upbringing or educating the child by the parents or the person responsible for his/her upbringing which includes corporal punishment or other cruel, degrading or inhuman treatment and/or punishment towards the child shall be inadmissible.”
This is reiterated in article 25.5, and articles 30 and 38 prohibit all corporal punishment in alternative care settings and in educational settings respectively. Additionally, article 60.2 puts an obligation on Georgia to “take all administrative, social and educational measures necessary to eliminate corporal punishment of children and the practice of any other cruel or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of children” (unofficial translation). The Code will come into force on 1 June 2020.
Before this reform, corporal punishment was not fully prohibited in the home, alternative care and day care settings. The Global Initiative has supported national advocates for prohibition for over five years, including the provision of technical assistance on drafting legislation. In 2016, representatives of Government, the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia and civil society participated in a week-long study visit on law reform against corporal punishment, coordinated by the Swedish Institute in collaboration with the Global Initiative. In 2017, following its examination of Georgia and in line with the Global Initiative’s shadow report, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended urgent measures on corporal punishment of children, including the adoption of legislation explicitly prohibiting all forms of corporal punishment in all settings. The draft Code was subsequently developed by the Human Rights and Civil Integration Parliamentary Committee with technical support from UNICEF Georgia and introduced to Parliament in March 2019.
The Global Initiative welcomes the adoption of the Code and congratulates all those who have been working for years to achieve this. With this reform, there are now 58 states worldwide which have prohibited all corporal punishment of children, with Georgia also becoming the 34th Council of Europe member state to do so.
As we prepare to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in November, we call on all states to follow Georgia in fulfilling their immediate obligation under the Convention to prohibit all corporal punishment of children. Children have a right – right now – to live free from all forms of violence.