Joseph Likibi et André Kabi du REIPER aux Nations Unies à Genève ©Apprentis d’Auteuil

Review of Congo by the Committee on the Rights of the Child: a favourable outcome of our advocacy work

On 8 February, the Committee on the Rights of the Child published its concluding observations on Congo, the culmination of the review process on the children’s rights situation in which we participated with REIPER, our local partner and the children we support on the ground. Last May, the National Coordinator of REIPER and Children participated in the pre-session of the Committee in Geneva to share our findings and recommendations.  

We look back at this experience and its results.

What is the Committee on the Rights of the Child?


Composed of 18 independent experts, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors compliance with the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child by the States that have ratified it. The Committee periodically examines those States which are required to report on the situation of children’s rights in their country. This evaluation also involves the participation of civil society, which is invited to submit its own findings and recommendations.

Our participation: the development of a report representative of reality 


To provide the Committee with as complete a vision as possible, we have prepared an alternative report with the 22 member organizations of REIPER, our historical partner and unique national network on child protection, and the children they accompany. To optimize the understanding and impact of this report, Joseph Likibi, REIPER Coordinator, and André Kabi, REIPER representative, went to Geneva to participate in the pre-session and share our findings with the Committee.

Together, we have reported on the shortcomings of the Congolese state system of child protection that makes it difficult to support children in need of support. We shared our concern about the violence and discrimination experienced by some groups of children, especially girls, children in street situations, disabilities, indigenous children and incarcerated minors. This lack of consideration and investment is a barrier to implementing appropriate measures for these children. 

On the streets, children’s rights are not respected. Many children suffer because they cannot eat and live in insecurity. They can be murdered, caught, and sent to jail. Sometimes they are raped, assaulted, or called “sorcerers”.
Young boy having been in a street situation

Our priority: carrying children's voice


To be as close as possible to the problems encountered by children and young people and to develop recommendations adapted to their needs, we have involved more than 200 children supported by REIPER when drafting our alternative report for the Committee.

During various workshops, the children expressed their rights, such as the right to education for health, food, family, leisure, protection against violence or the right to identity. Many of the children shared experiences related to insecurity, abuse and stigma.

In May, 5 of those youth were invited to exchange with the Committee remotely. This private discussion allowed the children to share their experiences and address the topics that are important to them, such as the phenomenon of children accused of witchcraft by their community and who are often hunted or abandoned. 

I appreciated the opportunity to share my opinion with the committee and answer questions. We talked about children called “sorcerers”.
This is an important subject because it is misunderstood. Sorcerer children are rejected by adults.
Young girl who participated in the pre-session with the independent experts of the Committee on the Rights of the Child

The concluding observations of the Committee, a strong signal


Following the review of the Congo and the publication of the concluding observations by the Committee, we optimistically note that the information and recommendations we provided have been considered by the Committee.  

Indeed, sharing our concern about the physical and psychological violence that children face, especially when they are in a vulnerable situation, the Committee recommends to the Congolese State to “take the necessary measures to change attitudes in a lasting way, through legal and awareness-raising means”. Furthermore, the Committee stresses the need to adapt the judicial system so that violence is repressed (...) and that the minority status of children is taken into consideration, in particular through the training of judicial personnel and law enforcement, but also by setting up specific structures”.

Concerning access to education and health care, the Committee agrees with our report by calling on the State to abolish tuition fees to make school truly accessible to all without discrimination, including the exclusion of Aboriginal or disabled children.

Also, in a section dedicated to street children, the Committee recommends that Congo take the necessary measures to understand the reasons why these children find themselves in this situation to put in place preventive but also subsequent solutions to ensure their protection against arbitrary detention and violence.

Finally, the Committee stressed the importance of strengthening the resources given to civil society, specificaly through a formalization of collaboration with the State and a subsidy of reception structures. Such state support is essential for the quality support children in vulnerable situations need.

It is now up to the Congolese State to follow the Committee’s recommendations and act for children’s rights.