On 27 June 2019, the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo adopted the Law on Child Protection which explicitly prohibits corporal punishment of children in all settings.
Article 24 of the Law states (unofficial translation):
1. Corporal punishment and disciplinary measures that would harm and reduce the dignity of the child, including forms of physical and mental violence and behaviours that degrade, disgrace and put child in inappropriate situations are prohibited in each environment at home and family, educational institutions, in child care institutions, bodies of law and the justice system, in the premises of work and the community.
2. It is prohibited for any person to subject the child to torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, as well as physical punishment and degrading treatment.
3. Educational personnel and school related personnel should not use corporal punishment as a means of discipline and rule, but rather should work and build on the basis of respect and justice.
4. The relevant ministries will ensure the issuance and establishment of programs to increase the awareness about the harmful effects of corporal punishment and design and create:
4.1. Education and raising awareness regarding the degrading consequences of corporal punishment;
4.2. Parenting programs that promote non-violent methods of disciplining in family and educational institutions.”
Corporal punishment is defined as “any use of physical force, notwithstanding how much force has been used, that aims at causing pain or concern”, including “beatings, torture, jogging or drive by force, burning, striking (slapping, kicking or whipping, hitting by stick, belt, shoes, or by any means) pinching, laceration, biting, strict reprimand, obligation by force to carry out an action, using the materials that cause pain or concern, forced swallowing”. Article 23.3 of the Law reiterates the prohibition in all educational settings.
The Law is expected to be gazetted shortly and will come into force one year later, by which time the Government is obliged to have published regulations providing for awareness-raising on the harmful effects of corporal punishment and parenting programmes promoting non-violent discipline in homes and schools.
Prior to reform, corporal punishment was not fully prohibited in the home, alternative care and day care settings. A version of this Law was first introduced in June 2016 but lapsed after general elections the following year. The current Law was reintroduced to Parliament in June 2018 and was finally adopted this week, following years of campaigning by national children’s rights advocates, including a law reform workshop co-hosted by the Global Initiative and Save the Children Kosovo in 2017.
The Global Initiative warmly welcomes this important reform and congratulates all those working to secure children’s rights in Kosovo. We are pleased to report that this development makes the Republic of Kosovo the 55th state worldwide to prohibit all corporal punishment of children. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, under which states have an immediate obligation to enact prohibition of all corporal punishment including in the home. Now is the time for all states to fulfil their obligations and recognise children’s right to live free from all forms of violence.