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School CP - June 2006

Corpun file 17778

Swazi Observer, Mbabane, 20 June 2006

Spare the child, spoil the rod

THE issue of corporal punishment still remains a very contentious one in African circles, Swaziland being no exception.

Last week at Orion Hotel in Pigg's Peak, a majority of the Members of Parliament insisted such punishment had to be maintained, as it was the only solution to child delinquency.

This was during a consultative workshop on proposed amendments to a new law known as Children's Bill.

The law pertaining corporal punishment [sic] in Swaziland provides that this means of punishment can be used in schools, at home and as a sentence to a criminal offence.

But this is against the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which completely prohibits corporal punishment be it in schools, communities or elsewhere.
[WRONG! No, it doesn't. The words "corporal punishment" do not appear anywhere in the Convention. Article 37 merely states that "No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment". It is only unelected UN bureaucrats, who are not judges and who are answerable to nobody, who have taken the contentious and entirely arbitrary decision that corporal punishment is necessarily "cruel, inhuman or degrading" -- C.F.]

"The Committee on the Rights of the Child has indicated that the CRC requires a review of legislation to ensure that no level of violence is condoned and has particularly emphasised that corporal punishment in the family, school and other institutions, or in the penal system is incompatible with the Convention.

"The Committee has also criticised and expressed concern at THE legislation which, while it protects children against serious physical assaults defined as child abuse or child cruelty, allows for parents or other care givers to use physical forms of punishment on children often with the stipulation that such punishment must be reasonable and moderate".

UNISWA law lecturer Maxine Langwenya stated this.

Princess Tsandzile even went as far as suggesting that 'correct' forms of discipline had to be meted out on children but questions abounded on what this really entailed.

It was Senator Winnie Magagula and a section of the female parliamentarians who argued that corporal punishment was no longer applicable nowadays especially with the constitution in full force.

Langwenya, who was also a resource person at the workshop, stated that the onus was upon parliamentarians to address the corporal punishment issue versus international conventions Swaziland has ratified.

"For instance both the Africa Charter on the Rights of Children and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child outlaw corporal punishment on children yet we maintain it. The Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act only allow it as a sentence to a criminal offence.

"We signed the Convention hence there should be an end to corporal punishment," stated Langwenya, provoking an uproar from the parliamentarians.

They shouted back that corporal punishment was the only remedy available for parents in disciplining wayward children.

There was also a hullabaloo from the MPs and Senators after Langwenya informed the parliamentarians it was their children's rights to access contraceptives to prevent teenage pregnancies and HIV infection. She said one couldn't run away from reality whereby children could access contraceptives from the sites, embarrassing them (parents) in the process. An example cited was also a case whereby a girl was pregnant and the father was unknown, posing a question whether in such instances abortion would be disallowed.

Again the constitution allows a death penalty even on children but the UNISWA lecturer said this ought to be rectified especially because the convention on the rights of the child outlaws such.

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