The Egyptian Coalition on Children’s Rights (ECCR) submitted a number of recommendations concerning children’s rights to the 50-member assembly amending the constitution.
ECCR called on the amended constitution to define a child as anyone below 18 years of age, and that all children’s rights should be protected, regardless of family situation. The group’s statement also said that regulations including criminal charges, compulsory education, and labour and employment regulations, and right to seek legal assistance and health should apply to all Egyptians under 18 years old.
“The new constitution must include the four guiding principles [of the] United Nations Convention for the Rights of the Child,” which include the right to life, survival, development and non-discrimination, according to the statement that added a special focus needed to be placed on the rights of young girls, as it relates to early marriages and female genital mutilation. ECCR also said that girls needed to be guaranteed the right to a proper education.
The new constitution, said ECCR, must also ensure the rights of children to name, nationality, and identity, along with protection from torture, violence, abuse, and “harmful traditional practices;” they added that the constitution also needed to protect children from human trafficking. The statement added that there needs to be encouragement to place children in need in foster homes and ensure that they are not “deprived of a family environment.”
The rights group also requested protection of children with disabilities under the new constitution and mechanisms to allow early detection of disabilities that cannot be dealt with through care and rehabilitation.
Children also needed to be insured with social security and frameworks need to be implemented to prevent poverty through government care, said ECCR.
The children rights group also said that the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood needed to be changed to the National Council of Childhood and tasked with protecting the rights of children, coordinating with the government and non-governmental organisations.
ECCR proposed the establishment of an independent state authority, in cooperation with NGOs, in order to provide constitutional oversight for the rights of children and present reports to parliament.
The suspended constitution, which is being amended by the 50-member committee, deals with children in Article 70, which states that children have the right to a “proper name, family care, basic nutrition, shelter, health, and religious, emotional and cognitive development.”
The suspended constitution also prohibited child labour and stated that children could only be detained for a “specific period” and must be provided with legal assistance.