Corporal Punishment Of Children: Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa Index - Bahrain

Bahrain should explicitly prohibit the use of corporal punishment in all settings and ensure that its prohibition is adequately monitored and enforced.

Corporal punishment is permitted by law in the home and is not explicitly prohibited by law in schools.[1] The Penal Code sets a prison sentence of up to 7 years "for any person who commits a physical assault against another in any manner," but also states, "nothing is an offence which is done in exercise of a right justified by law or custom," which could be interpreted to permit corporal punishment of children.[2] The Education Act of 2005 does not explicitly prohibit corporal punishment.[3] The Children’s Act of 2012 prohibits all physical, psychological, or sexual abuse or exploitation of children, and amends the Code of Criminal Procedure so that a complaint is not needed to trigger an investigation and that a criminal charge cannot be waived in cases of physical or sexual child abuse.[4] The law does not explicitly address corporal punishment or other violent discipline.

Corporal punishment in schools is banned under the Code of School Discipline, promulgated by the Ministry of Education.[5] Limited information is available about current rates of prevalence of corporal punishment of students in school.[6] The authorities have carried out awareness-raising programs on positive forms of child-rearing. [7]

Bahrain committed to eliminate corporal punishment in all settings during its Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council in 2007, and again in 2018.[8] In 2019, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child called on Bahrain "to explicitly prohibit the use of corporal punishment in all settings and ensure that its prohibition is adequately monitored and enforced," and to promote positive, non-violent forms of discipline among teachers.[9]

[1] "Concluding observations on the 4th to 6th periodic reports of Bahrain," UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, February 27, 2019, CRC/C/BHR/CO/4-6, para. 28, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC/C/BHR/CO/4-6&Lang=En.

[2] During the third UPR cycle in 2018, Bahrain supported recommendation 114.160 to "Prohibit by law corporal punishment against children in all settings and contexts, including in the home, and repeal all exceptions to its use." See Universal Periodic Review – Bahrain, Third Cycle, "Matrix of Recommendations," p. 22, available at https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/BHIndex.aspx.

[3] "Concluding observations on the 4th to 6th periodic reports of Bahrain," UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, February 27, 2019, CRC/C/BHR/CO/4-6, para. 28(a)-(b), https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC/C/BHR/CO/4-6&Lang=En.

[4] Penal Code of Bahrain, 1976, art. 336, 16, https://www.unodc.org/res/cld/document/bhr/1976/bahrain_penal_code_html/Bahrain_Penal_Code_1976.pdf

[5] Law No. 27 of 2005 with respect to Education, https://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/en/2005/law-no-27-2005-concerning-education-arabic-6628. See Peter Newell, "Child Rights Situation Analysis for Middle East and North Africa," Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, citing Bahrain: Briefing for the Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review, 1st Session, 2007.

[6] Law No. 37 of 2012 Promulgating the Child Law, Arts. 44-45, http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/ELECTRONIC/92395/107601/F-751087763/BHR-2012-L-92395.pdf

[7] Summary prepared by OHCHR in accordance with paragraph 15 (c) of resolution 5/1 of the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/WG.6/1/BHR/3, paragraph 16), https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G08/113/81/PDF/G0811381.pdf?OpenElement

[8] In 1997, a survey of 184 schoolgirls found that 23 percent experienced corporal punishment at school and 78 percent reported verbal insults by teachers. Fadheela Taher al-Mahroos, "Corporal Punishment and Psychological Maltreatment Among School Girls in Bahrain," Bahrain Medical Bulletin ;19(3):70-73, January 1997, http://www.bahrainmedicalbulletin.com/september_1997/corporal-punishment.pdf (accessed July 21, 2019).

[9] "Concluding observations on the 4th to 6th periodic reports of Bahrain," UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, February 27, 2019, CRC/C/BHR/CO/4-6, para. 28, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC/C/BHR/CO/4-6&Lang=En.

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