Country Report for the Democratic Republic of the Congo

LAST UPDATED: February 2017

Summary of necessary legal reform to achieve full prohibition

Prohibition still to be achieved in the home, alternative care settings, day care and penal institutions.

Article 326(4) of the Family Code 1987 states that “a person exercising parental authority may inflict reprimands and punishments on the child to an extent compatible with its age and the improvement of its conduct”. This provision should be repealed. The near universal acceptance of corporal punishment in childrearing necessitates clarity in law that no degree or kind of corporal punishment can be considered reasonable or lawful. All forms of corporal punishment, however light, should be prohibited.

Alternative care settings – Corporal punishment should be prohibited in all alternative care settings (foster care, institutions, places of safety, emergency care, etc).

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

Penal institutions – Corporal punishment should be prohibited as a disciplinary measures in all institutions accommodating children in conflict with the law.

Current legality of corporal punishment

Home

Corporal punishment is lawful in the home. Article 326(4) of the Family Code 1987 states that “a person exercising parental authority may inflict reprimands and punishments on the child to an extent compatible with its age and the improvement of its conduct”. Provisions against violence and abuse in the Criminal Code 1940, the Family Code 1987 and the Constitution 2006 are not interpreted as prohibiting all corporal punishment in childrearing. Article 57 of the Child Protection Code 2009 confirms the right of the child to protection from all forms of violence and states that discipline in the home, schools and institutions should be administered with respect for the child’s humanity but it does not explicitly prohibit corporal punishment. The Government has reported to the Committee on the Rights of the Child that a National Communication Plan relating to the Child Protection Code provides for awareness raising on abolition of corporal punishment at home and school:[1] we are seeking further information.

In 2011, a draft Revised Family Code was under consideration, following a review from a gender perspective. During the Universal Periodic Review of DR Congo in 2014, the Government reported that the Family Code was still under revision.[2] In 2016, the Law amending and supplementing Law No. 87-010 of 1 August 1987 on the Family Code (Loi modifiant et completant la Loi N°87-010 Du 1er Aout 1987 portant Code de la Famille) was passed. The new law does not mention corporal punishment.

 

Alternative care settings

Corporal punishment in alternative care settings is lawful under the right of those with parental responsibility to punish the child in article 326 of the Family Code 1987 (see under “Home”). According to article 57 of the Child Protection Code 2009, discipline in public and private care institutions should be administered humanely but corporal punishment is not explicitly prohibited.

 

Day care

Corporal punishment is lawful in early childhood care and in day care for older children under the right of those with parental responsibility to punish the child in article 326 of the Family Code 1987 (see under “Home”). According to article 57 of the Child Protection Code 2009, discipline in public and private care institutions should be administered humanely but corporal punishment is not explicitly prohibited.

 

Schools

Corporal punishment is unlawful in schools under Ministerial decision No. MINEPSP/CABMIN/00100940/90 of 1 September 1990 establishing internal regulations for students, which does not include corporal punishment among permitted penalties. Article 57 of the Child Protection Code 2009 states that discipline in schools should be administered humanely, but it does not explicitly prohibit corporal punishment.

 

Penal institutions

Corporal punishment is lawful as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions. There are various prohibitions of ill-treatment of detainees, including in Decree-Law No. 017-2002 setting out the code of conduct for state officials, circular No. 04/008/JM/PHR/70 on intervention by judicial police officers (1970) and the Constitution 2006, and article 57 of the Child Protection Code 2009 states that discipline of children should be carried out humanely, but there is no explicit prohibition of corporal punishment in law. Laws relating to prison are being reviewed.[3]

 

Sentence for crime

Corporal punishment was prohibited as a sentence for crime in 1960. It is not among permitted sanctions in the Decree on juvenile delinquency 1950, the Criminal Code 1940 and the Child Protection Code 2009. The Congolese Charter of Human Rights states that “physical or mental torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, are prohibited” (art. 19).

[1] [n.d.], CRC/C/COD/3-5 Unedited Version, Third-fifth state party report

[2] 7 July 2014, A/HRC/27/5, Report of the working group

[3] 7 July 2014, A/HRC/27/5, Report of the working group

Universal Periodic Review of DR Congo’s human rights record

The Democratic Republic of Congo was examined in the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2009 (session 6). No recommendations were made specifically concerning corporal punishment of children. However, the following recommendations were made and were accepted by the Government:[1]

“Undertake further measures to improve the legislative and regulatory basis with respect to human rights and their effective implementation. (Belarus);

“Take better account of the situation of vulnerable populations and adopt legislation to ensure promotion and protection of handicapped persons, children and women. (Congo);

“Consider developing a comprehensive action plan to operationalize the recently adopted Child Code and to address concerns related to the care and protection of children; in this regard, give due consideration to the recently adopted Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children. (South Africa);

“Continue to make efforts to eradicate violence against women and children and take the necessary measures to provide appropriate treatment for victims of crimes of this sort. (Argentina).”

Examination in the second cycle took place in 2014 (session 19). No recommendations were made specifically on corporal punishment but the Government accepted a recommendation to continue efforts in protecting children from violence against them as well as a number of more general recommendations concerning strengthening children’s rights.[2]

[1] 4 January 2010, A/HRC/13/8, Report of the working group, paras. 94(8), 94(24), 94(29) and 94(41)

[2] 7 July 2014, A/HRC/27/5, Report of the working group, paras. 133(33), 133(34), 133(35) and 133(88)

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.”

Prevalence/attitudinal research in the last ten years

In a study involving interviews with 708 men and 754 women in Goma, 57% reported having been slapped on the face by parents or other adults in the home as a child. Fifty-four per cent of women and 47% of men said that as a child, they had been insulted or humiliated in front of others by someone in their family, and 50% of both men and women reported being threatened with physical punishment in the home.

(Sonke Gender Justice Network & Promundo (2012), Gender Relations, Sexual Violence and the Effects of Conflict on Women and Men in North Kivu, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo – Preliminary Results from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES))

According to statistics collected in 2010 under round 4 of the UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey programme (MICS4), 92% of children aged 2-14 experienced violent “discipline” (physical punishment and/or psychological aggression) in the home in the month prior to the survey; 37% experienced severe physical punishment (being hit or slapped on the face, head or ears or being hit over and over with an implement).

(Ministry of Planning et al (2011), Democratic Republic of Congo: Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2010 summary report, Ministry of Planning, National Institute of Statistics & UNICEF)

A study by the African Child Policy Forum in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and Senegal found that hitting, beating and forced hard work were the most prevalent forms of violence against girls, and that most of the physical violence experienced by girls was corporal punishment. The study involved a survey of 3,025 young women (nearly 600 per country) aged 18-24 about the violence they had experienced in their childhood. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 74% had been hit during their childhood, 83% beaten, 25% kicked, 48% denied food, 7% choked or burned and 29% forced to do hard work. Parents and close relatives were the most common perpetrators of physical violence.

(The African Child Policy Forum (2010), Childhood Scars in Africa: A Retrospective Study on Violence Against Girls in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and Senegal, Addis Ababa: The African Child Policy Forum)