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Statement on the ruling by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Social Rights

Statement on the ruling by the Council of Europe’s European Committee of Social Rights that Ireland’s failure to ban corporal punishment of children is a breach of our international human rights obligations

The decision of the European Committee of Social Rights is welcomed by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office. Ireland has been found to be in breach of its human rights obligations under international law by failing to ban corporal punishment against children.

As a State party to the Revised European Social Charter and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Ireland is under an obligation to prohibit all forms of corporal punishment in its law and to educate and inform the public on this subject.

Article 17 of the European Social Charter provides that States must protect children against negligence, violence or exploitation. The European Committee of Social Rights has interpreted Article 17 to mean that the prohibition of all forms of violence against children must have a legislative basis.

This decision is not about criminalising parents. The Council of Europe promotes awareness as a means to end corporal punishment rather than the criminalisation of parents.

It highlights the fact that the prohibition of corporal punishment against children is provided for in international human rights instruments to which Ireland is a party.

The Irish Government has a duty, and a legal responsibility to protect all of its citizens. Our children are equal citizens and the Government is no less responsible for ensuring their protection. Immediate steps must be taken to introduce legislation that reflects the way children should be valued by society.