France chose a very symbolic date, 20 November, to sign this protocol, which enables children to file a complaint when their rights are violated
As part of the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Laurence Rossignol, French Secretary of State for the Family, Senior Citizens and Autonomy, traveled to New York on 20 and 21 November 2014, to sign the third optional protocol to the Convention.
Children authorized to submit a complaint at the international level
Adopted in December 2011, this individual or collective procedure allows children or their representatives to file a complaint with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child when a right guaranteed by the CRC and the previous two optional protocols is not respected by their government.
Some examples: the violation of the right not to be exploited and abused, arbitrary or unlawful interference with the private life or the family of a child, or the non-compliance with procedures appropriate to the child’s age when the child faces justice are all valid reasons to contact the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
This procedure involves a written application, founded, motivated and not anonymous, in the year following the exhaustion of domestic remedies.
This protocol represents a significant advancement because it strengthens the participation of children to exercise and to claim their rights as well as better access of children to justice.
Its implementation requires states to put in place, in the best interests of the child, effective remedies and reparations when a violation is confirmed.
Signature, the first step towards ratification
It must be emphasized that at this stage, the signature of the 3rd Protocol is only a first step. The text must now be ratified by the Parliament to make it applicable in France.
To date, 51 countries have signed the Third Protocol and only 14 of them have ratified it. Beyond the statement of intent that signature represents, BICE therefore urges France to take the critical step of ratification. Only then will the necessary measures become law, ensuring that children whose rights have been violated can obtain compensation for damages suffered at the local level.
Finally, beyond ratification, an effort should be made in France and in all other state parties to disseminate this protocol in a version adapted for children, so that they understand and can use it.
Children’s awareness of their rights, the mobilization of communities and the use of the complaints mechanism in the event of proven violations must be objectives to ensure greater protection of children’s rights.