Country Report for Armenia

LAST UPDATED: June 2018

*Armenia is committed to reforming its laws to prohibit corporal punishment in all settings.*

Armenia’s commitment to prohibiting corporal punishment

Armenia expressed its commitment to prohibiting all corporal punishment of children by unequivocally accepting recommendations to do so made during the Universal Periodic Reviews of Armenia in 2010 and 2015. The Government has reported that prohibition is included among draft amendments to the Family Code. Armenia is a Pathfinder country with the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, which was established in 2016.

 

Summary of necessary legal reform to achieve full prohibition

Prohibition is still to be achieved in the home, some alternative care settings and day care.

There is no defence for the use of corporal punishment enshrined in legislation but there is no explicit prohibition. In theory, the prohibition of cruelty, violence and humiliation in childrearing in article 53 of the Family Code would prohibit corporal punishment by parents, which invariably violates a child’s dignity, but the law is not interpreted in this way – and the potential for such an interpretation is undermined by the near universal social acceptance and use of corporal punishment in childrearing. Realisation of children’s rights to equal protection from assault under the law and to protection from all forms of violence requires clarity in law that no degree or form of corporal punishment is acceptable or lawful, without exception. Prohibition should be enacted of all corporal punishment and other humiliating and degrading treatment, in the home and all other settings where adults exercise authority over children.

Alternative care settings – Corporal punishment is considered unlawful in care institutions under the Rights of the Child Act 1996, though the law does not explicitly refer to corporal punishment.  Explicit prohibition should be enacted in relation to all alternative care settings (including foster care, places of safety, emergency care, etc).

Day care – Corporal punishment should be prohibited in all early childhood care (nurseries, crèches, preschools, family centres, etc) and all day care for older children (day centres, after-school childcare, childminding, etc).

Current legality of corporal punishment

Home

Corporal punishment is lawful in the home. The Family Code 2004 states in article 53(1) (unofficial translation): “Parental rights may not be exercised contrary to the interests of children…. In the exercise of parental rights, parents are not entitled to harm the physical and mental health of children or their moral development. Methods of parenting must exclude scornful, cruel, inhuman treatment, insults and exploitation….” Article 9 of the Rights of the Child Act 1996 states that children have a right to protection from all forms of violence and that no person, including parents, must inflict violence on the child or punishment which affects the child’s dignity, and article 22 protects the child’s right to honour and dignity. But these provisions and others in the Criminal Code 2003 and the Constitution 1995 are not interpreted as prohibiting all corporal punishment in childrearing.

In 2010, the Government stated that it planned to analyse legislation relating to children with a view to harmonising domestic law with international standards.[1] In the same year, the Government accepted the recommendations to prohibit corporal punishment of children made during its Universal Periodic Review.[2] In 2011, the Government also stated its intention to amend the Rights of the Child Act to prohibit corporal punishment in the family and in other forms of care.[3] In 2013, the Government reported to the Committee on the Rights of the Child that amendments to the Family Code which would prohibit all forms of corporal punishment were under consideration in Parliament.[4]

In February 2014, approval was given to an Action Plan deriving from the National Strategy on Human Rights Protection, including measures on the rights of the child. The Plan envisages the development of a concept and action plan to fight against violence against children, to be presented to the Government by the end of 2014.[5] In May 2014, the Government reported to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that the adoption of the bill on domestic violence and related legislation had been postponed, with newly revised drafts expected to be submitted to the National Assembly by the end of 2015; the legislation would contain “comprehensive regulations” relating to corporal punishment. The Government also noted that amendments to the Family Code had been proposed to prohibit corporal punishment in institutions and in the family.[6]

In 2015, the Government accepted a recommendation to prohibit corporal punishment in all settings made during the Universal Periodic Review of Armenia and confirmed that prohibition will be included in draft amendments to the Family Code.[7] Other processes of law reform are also under way which provide opportunities for enacting prohibition, including the drafting of a new Criminal Code and a Law on the Rights and Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities.[8]

The Government reported to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that the draft Law on the Rights and Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities had been submitted to the National Assembly in November 2016;[9] it passed the second reading in March 2017.[10]

On the Law on Domestic Violence, the Armenian Gender Policy Strategic Action Plan for 2011-2015 identified the need “to ensure improvement of the legislation aimed to combat gender-based violence” and the goal in relation to this of “harmonization of the legal Acts currently in force with international norms” (para. 50); the Strategic Action Plan to Combat Gender-Based Violence 2011-2015 includes as a preventive goal harmonization of laws with international standards (goal 1.1) and including the issue of gender-based violence in parent education, associated with the outcome of “ruling out of violence in the family and creation of safe environment for the development of the child” (goal 1.6). Neither specifically refers to prohibition of corporal punishment. In reporting to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the Government reported that the draft law was expected to be completed by the end of 2016.[11] The draft law was re-submitted to the Government in September 2016.[12] The Law on Domestic Violence was passed in December 2017[13] – we have been unable to see the text but there are no indications it addresses corporal punishment.

Armenia is a Pathfinder country with the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, which was established in 2016. This commits the Government to three to five years of accelerated action towards the achievement of Target 16.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Alternative care settings

Corporal punishment is unlawful in care institutions under the Rights of the Child Act 1996 (see under “Home”) but there is no explicit prohibition and the law is not interpreted as prohibiting corporal punishment in non-institutional forms of care. Applicable law includes the Law “On social protection of children deprived of parental care” 2002: it does not explicitly prohibit corporal punishment.

 

Day care

There is no explicit prohibition of corporal punishment in all early childhood care and day care for older children. It is possibly considered unlawful in preschool settings under the Law on Education 1999 (see under “Schools”).

 

Schools

Corporal punishment is unlawful in schools under the Rights of the Child Act 1996 (see under “Home”) but there is no explicit prohibition. Article 49(2) of the Law on Education 1999 prohibits teaching methods that use physical or mental pressure.

 

Penal institutions

Corporal punishment is considered unlawful as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions under the Rights of the Child Act 1996, the Criminal Code 2003 and the Constitution 1995, but there is no explicit prohibition. The Law on the Treatment of Arrestees and Detainees 2002 prohibits physical violence and inhuman or degrading actions and makes no provision for corporal punishment. Under the Penitentiary Code, the execution of a sentence must not be accompanied by physical violence or degrading treatment and no person sentenced to deprivation of liberty shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

 

Sentence for crime

Corporal punishment is unlawful as a sentence for crime. It is not available as a sentence under the Criminal Code 2003 and article 11 of the Code states that no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Article 17 of the Constitution 1995 states that “no one shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” and “all persons arrested, detained or deprived of liberty shall have the right to be treated with humanity and with respect for dignity”; there are similar provisions in the Criminal Procedure Code. A draft new Criminal Procedure Code is under discussion (2015) which includes a chapter on juvenile justice.

 

[1] Letter to former Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg, 21 December 2010

[2] 6 July 2010, A/HRC/15/9, Report of the working group, para. 93

[3] 7 February 2011, RAP/RCha/AR/IV(2011), National report to the European Committee of Social Rights, page 67

[4] 5 June 2013, CRC/C/SR. 1790, Summary record of 1790th meeting, paras. 3 and 38

[5] Letter from Yeghishe Kirakosyan, Deputy Minister of Justice, to the Global Initiative, 12 May 2014

[6] 12 May 2014, E/C.12/2014/SR.16, Summary record, paras. 13 and 33

[7] 13 April 2015, A/HRC/29/11, Report of the working group, para. 120(117); 5 June 2015, A/HRC/29/11/Add.1, Report of the working group: Addendum, para. 120(117)

[8] For example, see 2 July 2015, A/HRC/29/2 Advance Unedited Version, Report of the Human Rights Council on its twenty-ninth session, para. 496

[9] 5 January 2017, CRPD/C/ARM/Q/1/Add.1, Reply to the list of issues on initial report, para. 12

[10] March 2017, Submission of the Human Rights Defender of Armenia to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

[11] 16 June 2016, CEDAW/C/ARM/Q/5-6/Add.1, Reply to the list of issues on fifth-sixth report, para. 42

[12] December 2016, CAT/C/ARM/CO/4, Concluding observations on fourth report, Advance unedited version, para. 24

[13] See for example http://asbarez.com/169164/armenia-adopts-law-against-domestic-violence-at-last/, accessed 20 December 2017

Universal Periodic Review of Antigua and Barbuda’s human rights record

Antigua and Barbuda was examined in the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2011 (session 12). The following recommendations were made:[1]

“Prohibit corporal punishment of children in all settings (Slovenia);

“Criminalize the corporal punishment of children in all circumstances and places (Uruguay);

“Prohibit all forms of corporal punishment of children in any setting including the home and as a sentence of the courts (Uruguay);

“Introduce a legal prohibition of corporal punishment as a punitive and corrective measure in the school system and in the family (Spain);

“Consider taking necessary measures aimed at prohibiting all forms of corporal punishment (Brazil);

“Consider the elimination of corporal punishment of children under 18 and ensure the compliance of its legal system with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Chile);

“Enact legislation, which prohibits all corporal punishment of children in all settings, including as a sentence in the courts and ensure that positive and non-violent forms of discipline are promoted through awareness raising campaigns about the impact of corporal punishment on children (Hungary)”

The Government stated that the Corporal Punishment Act should be repealed[2] but rejected the above recommendations.

Antigua and Barbuda was examined in the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2016 (session 25). The following recommendations were made:[3]

“Prohibit and criminalize the corporal punishment of children (Honduras);

“Prohibit corporal punishment of children in all settings, as previously recommended (Slovenia)”

The recommendations did not enjoy the support of Antigua and Barbuda and were thus “noted”.[4] During the dialogue, Sierra Leone also stated that the Government should consider abolishing corporal punishment as a sentence, and Uruguay was concerned that the legal framework authorized the use of corporal punishment and invited the Government to review this legislation. The Government stated that corporal punishment of children is an “issue that appeared in laws and for which time would be required in order to change the views of Antiguans.”[5]

Examination in the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review is scheduled for 2021.

 

[1] 14 December 2011, A/HRC/19/5, Report of the working group, paras. 69(9), 69(10), 69(11). 69(12), 69(13), 69(14) and 69(15)

[2] 14 December 2011, A/HRC/19/5, Report of the working group, para. 19

[3] 23 June 2016, A/HRC/33/13, Report of the Working Group, paras. 77(69), 77(70)

[4] 23 June 2016, A/HRC/33/13, Report of the Working Group, para. 77

[5] 23 June 2016, A/HRC/33/13, Report of the Working Group, paras. 56, 63, 69

Recommendations by human rights treaty bodies

Committee on the Rights of the Child

(30 June 2017, CRC/C/ATG/CO/2-4, Concluding observations on second/fourth report, paras. 28 and 29)

“The Committee remains deeply concerned that corporal punishment is widespread and administered systematically in schools, in the home, in alternative care and day care settings and other institutions and that it continues to be widely accepted in society as a means of disciplining children. It is particularly concerned that certain provisions of the Education Act (2008) allow the principal, deputy principal or a teacher of a school to administer corporal punishment.

“The Committee urges the State party to:

(a) End all forms of corporal punishment in all settings, in particular in schools, in the home and in private and public institutions;

(b) Expeditiously repeal the relevant provisions of the Education Act (2008);

(c) Undertake awareness-raising programmes, including education campaigns, to change public attitudes and provide training and information on alternative forms of non-violent discipline, ensuring that they are consistent with the child ’ s human dignity;

(d) Train and raise the awareness of educators and other professionals working with and for children on positive behavioural management with a view to promoting safer and more protective schooling environments.”

 

Committee on the Rights of the Child

(3 November 2004, CRC/C/15/Add.247, Concluding observations on initial report, paras. 35, 36 and 48)

“The Committee is seriously concerned about the Corporal Punishment Act and the 1973 Education Act which provides for corporal punishment, which is in clear contravention of article 19 of the Convention. The Committee is concerned that corporal punishment is still widely practised in the family, in schools and in other institutions.

“The Committee recommends that the State party:

a) consider the immediate repeal of, or amendment to, the Corporal Punishment Act and the Education Act;

b) expressly prohibit corporal punishment by law in the family, schools and other institutions;

c) conduct awareness-raising campaigns to inform the public about the negative impact of corporal punishment on children and actively involve children and the media in the process; and

d) ensure that positive, participatory, non-violent forms of discipline are administrated in a manner consistent with the child’s human dignity and in conformity with the Convention, especially article 28, paragraph 2, as an alternative to corporal punishment at all levels of society.

“The Committee recommends that the State party take the necessary measures to prevent child abuse and neglect by, inter alia:

a) carrying out public education campaigns that raise awareness of the consequences of ill-treatment of children and alternative measures of disciplining children, addressing sociocultural barriers that inhibit victims from seeking assistance....”

 

Committee Against Torture

([August 2017], CAT/C/ATG/CO/1, Concluding observations in absence of report, Advance unedited version, paras. 7, 39 and 40)

“The Committee also welcomes the following legislative measures taken by the State party to give effect to the Convention, in particular: … (d) The Child Justice Act, No. 23 of 2015.”

“The Committee is concerned that provisions in the Corporal Punishment Act 1949 and the Prison Act 1956 permit flogging for breach of prison discipline. While noting that corporal punishment of children is prohibited as a sentence of crime under the Child Justice Act 2015, the Committee regrets that corporal punishment is lawfully administered at home and in schools, day care settings and penal institutions (art. 16).

“The Committee calls on the State party to explicitly prohibit corporal punishment in all settings and repeal all the provisions in domestic legislations that permit corporal punishment in any setting.”

None identified.