Government of the Republic of Maldives Responses to the List of Issues in relation to the Combined Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of the Maldives on the Convention on the Rights of the Child

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Government of the Republic of Maldives

Responses to the List of Issues

in relation to

the Combined Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of the Maldives

on the

Convention on the Rights of the Child
January 2016

The present responses were prepared by the Government of Maldives in response to the List of Issues by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC Committee). The responses include additional and updated information to those contained in the State Report. The Ministry of Law and Gender was the lead agency in preparing the Report. A sectoral committee consisting of all stakeholders in the implementation of the CRC provided information.

Part I

1. Information on activities undertaken to implement the recommendations contained in the Committee’s previous concluding observations (CRC/C/MDV/CO/3) on the second and third periodic reports of the Maldives.

Committee Recommendations (CRC/C/MDV/CO/3)

Challenges and Way Forward

Progress and General Measures

State Party Reservation(Para 10)

The Committee reiterates that the State party review the nature of its reservations with a view to withdrawing them in accordance with the Vienna Declaration and Plan of Action of the World Conference on Human Rights of 1993. The Committee further recommends that the State party seek inspiration from other Muslim countries which have either withdrawn similar reservations or not entered any reservations to the Convention.

The Constitution of the Maldives guarantees a universally accepted set of rights to the people in the country that is consistent with the tenets and principles of Islam. As per Article 10, “No law contrary to any tenet of Islam shall be enacted in the Maldives”

Article 21 of the Convention, applicable to ‘states parties that recognize and/or permit the system of adoption’. Constitutionally and as per Sharia principles, the Maldives does not permit a system of child adoption.

The Maldives, however, has sought alternative measures to address the reservation.

On 23 August 2015, the Ministry of Law and Gender enacted the State Custody Regulations and the Interim Foster Regulations. These two regulations set in place a system of alternative care for children deprived of primary family environments and in accordance with its international obligations.

As noted in the Committee’s recommendation on Article 21 the newly introduced regulations ensure a more systematic approach to legal guardianship, allowing greater protection for vulnerable children, greater safeguards and enhanced monitoring by the State whereby a child is put into alternative care arrangements.

A child is fully entitled to a number of benefits under these regulations, apart from inheritance rights, which could be executed, under common law through wills of legal guardians.

Coordination (Para 17) The Committee recommends that the State party use the restructuring of the Ministry of Gender and Family not only to strengthen its functions, but also to establish a single inter-sectoral mechanism for the coordination and evaluation of all activities relating to the implementation of the Convention. Such a body should be given a strong mandate and sufficient human and financial

The Maldives recognises the importance of setting up a single inter-sector mechanism for coordinating and evaluating the implementation of obligations under the Convention. Yet, owing to the small size of the civil service, and the smaller number of personnel with the necessary expertise, such a mechanism is still not fully established. The Government, however, is committed to continuing with the efforts to establish a single mechanism and equip it with the necessary resources.

Currently, coordination takes form of regular inter-sectoral meetings, referrals and activities on matters pertaining to children. All matters relating to children are consulted amongst stakeholders.

A Procedure Manual on Delivery of Services by the Ministry is being reviewed to facilitate greater inter-agency collaboration, taking into account strengthening of established referrals and data sharing mechanisms. The revised Manual is expected to come into effect in 2016.

Multi- Sectoral consultations have been held in some atolls to identify and collect information about the bottlenecks in interagency coordination. Further consultations are planned for 2016.

The new Child Rights Bill is envisioned to systematically address the issue of coordination. The Bill has general measures as well as systematic prerequisites for service provision.

Data Collection (Para 23)

The Committee notes with concern that the progress in data collection is impeded by the lack of adequately trained personnel and insufficient coordination between State authorities and child welfare agencies

The lack of a comprehensive national data collection system with respect to all areas covered by the Convention hinders reporting. The geographical dispersion of Maldives continues to be a barrier to establishment of such a mechanism.

Nonetheless, utilizing advances in Information and Communications Technology, efforts have been made in the past years to establish a system of disaggregated and modernized data collection system to back evidence based planning, result based monitoring and adoption of adequate policies and programmes.

To enhance data collection mechanisms, the Ministry of Law and Gender recently developed data forms to accumulate disaggregated data and identify needs across the country.

The Maldives Child Protection Database (MCPD) is expected to be up and functional for utilization by all relevant agencies via a web based platform in 2016 to facilitate enhanced referral and monitoring of cases reported to relevant agencies.

MaldivInfo, the Maldives national database of human development indicators, continues to be used and updated for data collection across all sectors.

Awareness raising and training ((Para 26)

The Committee recommends that the State party continue its efforts to systematically disseminate information about the Convention among children, their parents and other caregivers and all relevant professional groups working with and for children. It recommends that the State party provide professionals with targeted and regular training on the provisions and principles of the Convention and the international human rights standards in general.

The Committee also recommends that the State party encourage the media to disseminate information on the rights of the child and in that way promote the awareness of the rights of the childamong the public at large. The Committee further recommends that the State party take specific measures to make the Convention available to and known by all children in the Maldives, paying attention to the civil rights and freedoms of children, and that the State party continue its cooperation with UNICEF in this regard.

The greatest challenge facing the public administration in the Maldives is the lack of personnel equipped with sufficient technical skills and experience in delivering the services. Child welfare agencies face this challenge more than any other sector.

In addition to the existing capacities, the Ministry intends to provide technical support to the development of sector specific child protection policies (e.g. in health or education).

A significant percentage of all training programmes conducted by the Ministry and its partners incorporate CRC information sessions.

Dissemination of the Convention in the form of booklets, TV and Radio programmes, and trainings continues nationwide.

A study on Assessment of Training Needs of Social Service Workers in Maldives (2015), funded by UNICEF Maldives, has been completed and its recommendations followed to address training needs.

Child Participation (Para 45)

Based on the right of the child to be heard the Committee recommends to seek to develop a systematic approach and policy, with the involvement of professionals working with and for children, in particular teachers and social workers, and civil society, including

Participation of children in decision-making and policy formulation is increasing.

In addition to existing practices of participatory process, such as Family Law (4/2000), which requires a child’s view to be heard in matters of custody, participation of children in the wider sphere of decision-making is being augmented.

A National Technical Consultation on Stepping up Protection of Children with Disabilities in the Maldives was held in November 2014, with the active participation of children to provide a forum for strengthening the protection of children with disabilities through awareness raising, enhanced cross-regional learning, sharing and strengthening of partnership.

Family Group Conferencing takes place more systematically on cases reported to the Ministry of Law and Gender, Juvenile Justice Unit and at the Juvenile Court with due respect to the child’s right to be heard.

Human Rights Clubs have been established in 18 Schools which involve active participation of children in conducting the activities of the Club.

Active participation of children in developing national campaigns, such as “AHAN”(Listen to Us), is progressively becoming standard practice.

“Ahan” is a one year campaign carried out by Ministry of Law and Gender with assistance from UNICEF aiming to strengthen the child protection network with the aim of protecting the child from all forms of violence.

The Governing Board of the South Asian Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC) includes a child representative

2. Steps taken to finalize and adopt the Child Protection Act and the Juvenile Justice Bill.

The Child Rights Bill has been submitted to the Parliament, and will be tabled for debate during the first quarter of 2016. The Bill will replace the Child Rights Protection Act (Law No 9/91). The main reason for updating the Child Rights Protection Act is to make the Law more consistent with the relevant provisions of the Convention. It also aims to make the Act more explicit on rules of provision of State care to children in need, responsibilities of State in implementing the law, a coordination mechanism amongst related agencies, enabling provisions to facilitate foster care services and monitoring mechanisms and to provide liabilities of parents or legal guardians who contravene the responsibilities provided in the Law.

The Bill sets the minimum age of criminal responsibility at 10 years of age, which is in line with existing Regulation on Investigation and Provision of Juvenile Justice under the General Regulations Act (Act No. 6/2008). Under the Bill, minors between ages of 10 to 15 years, have the benefit of an excused defense as per the new Penal Code. For minors between the ages of 15 years and below 18 years, they will have the benefit of excused defence subject to rebuttal by prosecution.1 The Bill also provides for a minimum age for criminal responsibility for Hadd offences committed by minors. Under the Bill, minors of 10 years of age and above, must bear criminal responsibility for Hadd offences. In such cases, as also provided in the Penal Code, implementation of sentencing will be deferred to a time until the minor is above 18 years of age.
The Bill demarcates responsibilities and functions of the regulatory authority and service providers, and creates a national council with the composition of multi-sector representation which has an advisory role in policy-making, enacting regulations and standards in the sector. A specific monitoring role is stipulated for the Human Rights Commission, to monitor the implementation of both the Law and the Convention. The Government believes these changes will provide for greater accountability of the system and strengthen coordination amongst sectors in both during policy-making and implementation.
The Bill introduces a national child care and protection system, whereby the provision of ambulant services, foster care, and residential care services are mandatory on the State. Under the Bill, the State can take children in need under State care via special procedures in relation to acquisition of legal guardianship of such children. The Bill also introduces guidelines on fostering children who are under State care. In order to overcome a major systemic bottleneck experienced in cases where consent is withheld by parents of the children who are under State care, the Bill enables the courts to deem consent in such cases. In contrast to the present legislation, the Bill introduces special enforcement procedures where the Minister may intervene to protect the interests of the child upon obtaining specific forms of court orders.
In parallel, Social Work Bill was recently forwarded to the President’s Office for submission in the Parliament. The Social Work Bill is designed to provide key support in this area as it would enable the State to establish a care system and would provide the legal framework to operate, regulate and monitor social services and social workers in Maldives

The draft Juvenile Justice Bill will be submitted to the Parliament at its next session. Outcome of various stakeholder consultations has been included in the Bill to accommodate recent legislative changes.

The Juvenile Justice Bill would replace the existing Regulation on Investigation and Provision of Juvenile Justice under the General Regulations Act (Act No. 6/2008) and when enacted as law, it will provide a legislative framework to establish the proper mechanism on administration of juvenile justice and prevention of juvenile delinquency in the Maldives. The draft Bill stipulates the powers and duties of relevant authorities, rights and obligations of minors, mechanisms for protection from and prevention of juvenile delinquency, investigative measures, rules on prosecution of juveniles, adjudication procedures. Furthermore, the bill introduces diversionary mechanisms and procedures and rules to follow in institutionalizing detention facilities for juvenile delinquents.
3. Please provide information on children sentenced to death who were executed over the reporting period or are currently on death row. How the 2014 Regulation on Investigation and Execution of Sentence for Wilful Murder which allows for children as young as 7 years to be sentenced to death for the offence of intentional murder has been implemented.

No one has been executed in the Maldives during the reporting period. Children “as young as 7 years” have not been sentenced to death in the Maldives. The Regulation on Investigation and Execution of Sentence for Wilful Murder (R-33/2014), stipulates all criminal investigations relating to children must be undertaken in a manner consistent with the laws protecting the rights of the child.

Children below the age of 15 years have the benefit of an excuse defence under section 53 of the Penal Code of the Maldives (9/2014). However, a minor accused of Hadd offences under Islamic Shari’a, such as intentional murder, and serious criminal offences that cause grievous bodily harm, must bear criminal responsibility for the alleged offence. No person below the age of 10 years has been convicted or sentenced for wilful murder over the past 10 years.

The Regulation (R-33/2014) lists various procedural safeguards before the execution of offenders convicted of intentional murder, including the exhaustion of the appeal process and mediation between the offender and the family of the victim with regards to the death sentence in accordance with Islamic Sharia’a. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has the mandate to coordinate the process of mediation with due consideration to the best interests of the child.

Regulation (R-33/2014) must be read together with Regulation on Investigation and Provision of Juvenile Justice under the General Regulations Act (Law No. 6/2008) and Penal Code (Law No. 9/2014) in order to attain the correct understanding and application of the existing laws with regards to juvenile delinquents.

Under Regulation on Investigation and Provision of Juvenile Justice, a minor of age 10 years and above has to take criminal responsibility for wilful murder. As the Penal Code is the prevailing law as per section 18 of the Code, a minor below the age of 15 years will have the benefit of an excused defence for such an offence. A minor between the ages of 15 years and below 18 years will have the benefit of an excused defence subject to rebuttal by prosecution. Even in such a situation, the accused minor has the benefit of availing of the procedural safeguards provided in the Regulation, which include, exhaustion of the appeal process and mediation between the offender and the family of the victim with regards to the death sentence in accordance with Islamic Sharia’ah.

To date, the Juvenile Court had sentenced five minors to death in three separate cases of intentional/wilful murder; one case in 2013 and two cases in 2015. Amongst the said five minors, four were above the age of 17 at the time of offending and were sentenced after they reached 18 years of age. One of the said cases involved a 15-year-old minor being sentenced to death. Two of these cases are now on appeal at the High Court.

4. Measures taken to design a comprehensive policy on children backed up by national plans of action, adequate funding and coordination mechanism.

A National Conference on the Maldivian Child was convened in July1991. A comprehensive national policy and a National Programme of Action for Children (NPA) were drawn up in line with the recommendations of the National Conference, by an inter-ministerial committee, which was set up for the purpose.

The National Programme of Action for Children was initially implemented by the Unit for the Rights of the Child (URC), established in 1992. Currently the Ministry of Law and Gender, in partnership with relevant State and independent actors, formulates coordinates, and implements, policies and action plans on children.

The Ministry benefits from specialized allocation of budgets within the annual State budget, development partners and donor agencies to undertake its activities and programmes. The Ministry executes a comprehensive policy with collaboration of UNICEF to institutionalise and coordinate protection services.

In order to mitigate gaps in coordination, the Ministry of Law and Gender has planned and budgeted to strengthen the role of Family and Child Service Centres (FCSC) within atolls. Under the program, inter-sectoral working groups are to be established at atoll levels to coordinate responses and identify emerging issues. Clear reporting and communication pathways would be established to facilitate greater and broader functioning of the FCSCs, with enhanced role clarity amongst stakeholders.

5. Measures taken to strengthen the monitoring role of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives as regard the Convention and to bring the Commission in full compliance with Paris Principles, especially as regard its independence.

The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) is an institution of the State established under Article 189 of the Constitution of the Maldives, and the Human Rights Commission Act (6/2006). Both the Constitution and the Act provides for independence of the Commission with powers to identify and investigate violations in the Maldives. The Government also reiterates its unwavering commitment to provide the necessary space and freedom for the independent institutions in the Maldives to function freely and responsibly.’

The HRCM is the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM). The independence and the wide ranging powers granted to the HRCM makes the Commission operationally consistent with the Paris Principles. HRCM continues to carry out monitoring visits to places of detention to assess conditions and administration. To strengthen the mechanism, following each visit, the Commission puts forth its recommendations that are monitored and advocated through dialogue with relevant stakeholders.

Nationwide visits to evaluate human rights situations at atolls are also conducted regularly with primary focus of monitoring implementation of the recommendations put forth by the Committee in its previous concluding observations.

Focusing on Child Rights, the Commission’s Child Rights Unit continues to obtain information through its investigations and remains crucial in identifying gaps in existing child protection system. The Commission continues to operate as the redress mechanism and primary oversight body on matters pertaining to any form of human rights violations.

6. Information on the measures taken, including legislative, to eliminate discrimination against girls, children born out of wedlock, children with disabilities, non-Muslims, and lesbian and gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex (LGBT) children. Whether State party is considering repealing the provision of the Family Law which subject girls to the will of their paternal guardians when it comes to entering into marriage.

The Gender Equality Bill (GEL) has been submitted to the Parliament, which will be tabled for debate in the Parliament in the first quarter of 2016. The Bill aims to align domestic law with Maldives obligations under international human rights instruments, prohibit discrimination against women and criminalise any form of violation of women’s rights.

The Ministry of Law and Gender continues to undertake nationwide awareness programmes on Family Law, Domestic Violence Prevention Act, Sexual Harassment and Abuse Prevention Act and Sexual Offences Act. It has commenced programmes for youth; especially for women and girls, on the importance of drawing prenuptial agreements before entering into marriage.

Discrimination against children born out of wedlock is non-existent under the law; they have the right to all health provisions including mandatory vaccination, the right to education and the right to employment and the right to enter marriage upon maturity. The only reservation is the right to inherit property from paternal parents if their paternity is not legally documented.

As per the Sharia, Maldivian women do and will need paternal approval or blessing prior to marriage. Islamic principles regard this as a protection of the rights of the girl. Further, in instances where a paternal guardian does not permit a girl, who has reached maturity at the age of eighteen, entering into marriage, depending on the factual circumstances surrounding the case, a judge/magistrate has jurisdiction to permit marriage with due regard to domestic laws on children; this applies in two situation, one is when the paternal guardian refuses permission for a woman above eighteen; and, second is the situation where the girl has not reached maturity of eighteen years, but circumstances of her well-being and physiological growth reaches maturity.

The Maldives will therefore maintain the Article in current Family Law Section 9 (a), which stipulates “A marriage may be solemnized and registered under this Act only where there exists the consent of the parties to the marriage to contract that marriage. And where there exists consent of the legal guardian of the bride or Judicial Consent obtained in accordance with subsection (b) of this section”.

In ways to eliminate discrimination against children with disabilities, the Government appointed Disability Ambassadors and children with disabilities can obtain disabilities cards with special privileges, amongst various other targeted programmes for children with disabilities. The Disability Act (8/2010) is very progressive and children with disabilities have equal opportunities for schooling, receive regular welfare assistance from the state and have specialized access to social housing schemes.

With the additional amendment made in 2014 to the Law No 9/91 (Child Rights Protection Act) all children living in the Maldives, including foreign children have the right to free education.

The Maldives is a one hundred percent Muslim country. As such, practices that are contrary to the values of Islam, such as non-traditional forms of families and LGBT are not allowed under the law in the Maldives.

7. In view of article 10 of the Constitution of the Maldives and with reference to the previous recommendation of the Committee (CRC/C/MDV/CO/3, para. 48) clarify how the State party ensures children’s freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Article 27 of the Constitution states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and the freedom to communicate opinions and expression in a manner that is not contrary to any tenet of Islam”. The Maldives has been a Muslim country for the last 800 years. The social framework, historic and traditional values have evolved over the decades, to be intimately linked to Islamic practises. And thus, Islamic values are part of country’s national identity and national heritage. And therefore, it follows that Islam forms the basis of the country’s Constitution, and all its laws.

8. With reference to article 35(a) of the State party’s Constitution and the previous recommendation of the Committee (CRC/C/MDV/CO/3, para. 55), please indicate the measures taken to put an end to torture and the inhuman, cruel and degrading treatment inflicted on children. In particular, please clarify whether the State party intends to repeal the provision contained in the Regulation on Conducting Trials, Investigations and Sentencing Fairly for Offences Committed by Minors according to which children can be flogged for having committed certain “hadd” offenses, for having had consensual same sex relations or for having been the victims of sexual abuse. Please also provide updated information on the anti-corporal punishment campaign that was planned for 2013, including its results.

Constitutional Article 35(a) inter alia, explicitly prohibits torture, inhumane, cruel and degrading treatment of children and prescribes special measures for protecting children. Moreover Article 54 stipulates no person shall be subjected to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, or torture. The Law on the Protection of the Rights of the Child (9/91) and Anti-Torture Act (13/2013) further criminalizes such treatment, punishment or torture.

The Maldives prohibits sexual relationships outside marriage by law. The Special Procedures for Perpetrators of Child Sexual Abuse Act (Law 12/2009) sets minimum age of consent at 13 years of age, with presumption that unless explicitly proven otherwise, a minor cannot consent to sex. Thus it acts as a strong safeguard against victims of sexual abuse being punished or re-victimized. Same sex relations is an offense under the Constitution of the Maldives and a punishable offence under the Penal Code (9/2014)

A high level consultation meeting to discuss the launching of anti-corporal punishment campaign had taken place in November 2015 and a plan of action had been drawn up. The outcomes of the meeting include partnering with the ‘AHAN’ campaign for awareness on Corporal punishment conducting a perception analysis and incorporating provisions within the Child Rights Bill and the Juvenile Justice Bill to prohibit Corporal Punishment. The ‘AHAN’ aims to change attitudes, perceptions and behaviour of community towards violence against children, spreads further awareness through its video spots broadcast across the nation.

9. Please inform the Committee about the results of the assessment of the child protection system and any measures taken on the basis of the results.

The Assessment of the Child Protection System has been undertaken and the results are being analysed. Further reviews of the Child Protection System is being undertaken to identify and address critical issues. However, relevant agencies such as the Ministry of Education continue to implement reports’ recommendations in formulation of policy and within its programmes.

The mapping and assessment shows that a combination of strong leadership, investments in coordination and a medium to long-term vision will allow the country to consolidate its potential and embrace a systems approach to child protection. Such an approach would in turn make it easier to fill many of the gaps that were identified during the course of the exercise.

The Assessment of Training Needs of Social Service Workers in Maldives (2015) has furnished similar results and is being adopted to enhance the Child Protection System and service provision. A training program for social workers has been conducted by the Ministry of Law and Gender with assistance from UNICEF in November 2015 based on recommendations of the assessment. Thirty-three percent of the total number of social workers working at MoLG and FCSCs were reached by the programme. Moreover, the Ministry of Law and Gender in collaboration with the Maldives National University recently formulated a special programme to train Social Service Workers up to Advanced Certificate level and is planned to continue every year in order to cater for the lack of social workers in the atolls.

10. Measures taken to ensure the safety of children on the Internet and about awareness programmes in schools to address the issue of pornography and cyber bullying.

The Ministry of Law and Gender, the Ministry of Education, and the Maldives Police Services conduct awareness programmes on bullying, including, but not limited to, cyber bullying. These awareness campaigns have been conducted in the national capital Malé and all other 19 atolls mostly targeting students between the age of 12 and 18 and their parents.

Advocacy material on Internet safety had been developed and is being disseminated within schools and amongst the public by MoLG. The ‘AHAN’ campaign creates further awareness through its video spots broadcast across the nation. The MoLG will be conducting a study on Understanding Child On-line Sexual Exploitation as part of a regional initiative. The main purpose of this assessment is to gather information on the present situation by reviewing legislative frameworks, ICT industry protocols and approaches, mapping out the challenges faced by stakeholder institutions, and to provide actionable recommendations on key priority areas that could initiate systematic change.

11. Measures taken to investigate cases of police misconduct allegedly committed against children during the protests that ensued after February 7th, 2012 and the results of such investigations. Please inform of the measures taken to protect children from gang related violence and deaths and from involvement in gang related activities.

All cases filed with the Police Integrity Commission (PIC), as well as suo-moto cases on police misconduct following protests on 7 February 2012 have been duly investigated, and outcomes shared with relevant authorities. Cases where sufficient evidence for criminal prosecution were to be found, had been forwarded to the Prosecutor General’s Office. However, there were no juvenile cases reported in the 7 February 2012 incident.

Cases of alleged police misconduct where criminal aspects were not found but cases which require disciplinary measures against officers, is administered by Professional Standards Directorate of the Maldives Police Services (MPS) in close collaboration with the Family & Child Protection Department (FCPD) of Maldives Police Services.

As part of a wider strategy on eliminating gang related activities, Safe Island Module (SIM) programmes, with extensive life-skills training was initiated in 2014 at individual, family, and community levels. Programmes have been conducted in the northern and southern Atolls. Community outreach platforms, READY Camps for school children, sports, parenting skills, teacher development, character building, and personal safety programmes were carried out within the extensive range of the package, in collaboration with UNICEF Maldives. Moreover a ‘Be Safe’ campaign in partnership with the Maldivian Red Crescent (MRC) is being conducted across the country.

To reduce the number of children in gang related violence, the Maldives Police Service and the Ministry of Education undertake nationwide prevention programmes within schools for disenfranchised youth.

12. Implementation of the Special Procedures for Perpetrators of Child Sexual Abuse Act (Law 12/2009). Please also inform the Committee about the measures taken to increase the reporting and prosecutions of perpetrators of child sexual abuse, to rehabilitate and reintegrate sexually abused children and to prevent their re-victimization.

With the ratification and implementation of the Act, the country has witnessed increased reporting and enhanced investigative processes. Rates of successful prosecutions and sentencing are on the rise and in itself manifests considerable progress.

The Child Helpline (1412), amongst others, operates as a nationwide toll-free mechanism for reporting by children themselves and the general public, of incidences of abuse. The “AHAN” campaign on prevention of violence against children spreads greater awareness on existing systems of reporting and redress.

In 2015, 414 cases of child sexual abuse has been reported to MoLG (including FCSCs) which is significantly higher than the total number of child sexual abuse cases reported in 2010 which was 134.

Rehabilitation and reintegration of victims of abuse is within the mandate of MoLG. The Ministry’s Family and Children’s Service Centres are established in each of the 20 atolls. Their main role is to provide child protection services to children. The Ministry works closely with the Family and Child Protection Department of the Maldives Police Service, and depending on the condition of the victim regular case conferences between MoLG, atoll FCSCs and FCPD are held to guarantee the best interest of the child. Victims and their guardians are informed of support services throughout the investigative process.

Family and Children Service Centres (FCSC) which is based in all the atolls provide psychosocial support to the victims and provide them and their parents, information on precautionary measures to prevent re-victimization. “AmaanHiyaa” (Safe Home) established at FCSCs in four atolls provide temporary accommodation as a protection measure for the victims of child sexual abuse.

In addition to this, services are provided through a Victim Support Unit at the Family and Child Protection Department of the Maldives Police Services and the Victims Assistance Unit at the Prosecutor General’s Office. Other general measures such as child-friendly interview rooms has been established in Male’ and four other atolls. The Maldives Police Services is working on gradually establishing similar child-friendly investigative settings within atolls.

The Family and Child Protection Department works in collaboration with Family and Children’s Service Centres, local councils and relevant stakeholders to maximize implementation of the Act. A registry of convicted sex offenders as stipulated in the Act has been published online in November 2015 by the Ministry of Law and Gender. (

13. Measures taken to prohibit female genital mutilation and to hold accountable religious leaders who promote this harmful practice. Please also provide detailed information on the measures taken to prevent child marriages.

There are no reports of instances of female genital mutilation (FGM) being practiced in the Maldives. The Maldives does not have a history of FGM being practiced at any time. The Government remains committed to take whatever measures necessary to prevent such criminal practices from creeping in to the society.

Awareness programmes on the consequences of underage marriage has been formulated where information posters are being distributed to all the atolls of the Maldives by Ministry of Law and Gender with the assistance from the South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC). The Ministry of Law and Gender and its partners, work in close collaboration with the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and prominent religious leaders on matters relating to strict and harmful traditional practices.

Since 2015 Ministry of Law and Gender has been working with prominent scholars on creating awareness amongst stakeholders and the general public on rights of children, girls and women. Information sessions were held between the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Intelligence Department of the Maldives Police Services on the issue of religious radicalism. The State apparatus diligently monitors prevalence of religious radicalism and takes proactive measures to prevent children from its harmful effects.

“The Message”, a series of lectures by world renowned scholars in an effort to promote moderate Islamic views and the significant protection Islam accords to children and women are being conducted.

The Ministry of Law and Gender and its partners including Family and Child Protection Department of Maldives Police Service (MPS) conduct regular awareness sessions, door to door, and media campaigns, on detrimental effects of female genital mutilation and child marriages for the general public, students, and their parents.

14. Information on the implementation of the action plan to create awareness among the public and legislators of the challenges that unmarried pregnant adolescent girls face and on the reform measures planned. Please also indicate the measures taken to provide adolescents with sexual and reproductive health information and services.

The Department of Judicial Administration has conducted eight separate awareness and training programmes for the judiciary since the ratification of the Domestic Violence Prevention Act of 2012 for participants including magistrates, judges and appellate court justices. Awareness and trainings focused on gender sensitive legislations and promotion of women’s human rights. Training programmes were conducted to all prosecutors to equip them with knowledge on gender equality and effective prosecution of gender based violence and sexual abuse cases.

Sensitizing sessions on Domestic Violence Prevention Act and gender equality and women’s rights were held in 2013. The Ministry of Law and Gender has launched an advocacy campaign to ensure that two key policy priorities of the Government on Gender equality are met by 2018. Gender sensitization programmes have been conducted in Malé and five atolls in 2014 for a total of 410 participants.

Awareness programmes on prevention of Child abuse, Domestic Violence and Gender Based Violence were held within the year 2015 for a total audience of 150 participants including members from local Council and Women’s Development Committee and officials from other stakeholder agencies participated. Door to door campaigns were carried out by the Ministry of Law and Gender in two atolls aiming to provide information on child abuse and domestic violence for a wider population. More than 400 households were reached during the first round of the campaign held this year. Under the “no child left behind” policy of the Government, every child including unmarried pregnant adolescent girls are given the opportunity to get back to school and continue their education.

An integrated and comprehensive National Reproductive Health Strategy 2014-2018 has been endorsed and is being implemented. Standards have been developed to provide adolescent friendly health services, and at present piloted through an Adolescent Friendly Health Services Clinic in Kulhuduhfushi island. Sensitization sessions on adolescent friendly health services has been conducted for policy makers and a high-level advocacy meeting on SRH, with a wide ranging number of participants including MPs, Ministers, and policy makers was held in 2014.

The first working session for the National AIDS Council Members was conducted in 2013 with representation from high-level members’ from relevant ministries and agencies. A new Council had been recently appointed to carry forth the mandate and formulate policies governing the area.

Termination of pregnancy is allowed for Thalassemia major, sickle cell major, multiple congenital anomalies and maternal life threatening conditions. The Maldives also allows for medical termination of pregnancy within 120 days of conception for pregnancies resulting from rape by an immediate family member, rape of a child who is physically and mentally not fit to get pregnant and deliver, or under some specific circumstances, where the doctor believes that medical termination is required.

A training workshop on mobilization of religious leaders to support adolescents/women and children’s sexual and reproductive health was conducted in September 2014; and a subsequent Training Manual “Mobilization of Religious Leaders in the Maldives to support Women and Children Health” has been developed.

The Ministry of Education delivers a comprehensive life skills package for adolescents within schools on Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH). Programmes on reproductive and maternal health including family planning have been conducted to provide information for unmarried youth and young adults.

The government regularly collaborates with civil society organisations to deliver information on sexual and reproductive health. Broadcast media is often utilized in a systematic manner to spread awareness, via video spots, interviews and public health messages on SRH.

15. Measures taken to provide access to adequate healthcare for children living in rural areas and to mental health care services for children and adolescents as well as on efforts to prevent child mortality caused by communicable diseases and lack of intensive care. Please also report on measures taken to implement the Drug Act (17/2011), including its provisions on rehabilitation and reintegration services for children.

The health care delivery system of the Maldives, reaching the entire population is organized into a four-tier referral system with the island level health facilities referring patients to higher level health facilities in the atolls, regions and to central level depending upon the need and service availability. The Government is committed to improving the health services in the country and improving the accessibility of services at the very peripheral levels.

Maldives has introduced universal health insurance across the country. This has enabled access to health care for people of all socio-economic backgrounds.
Different levels of maternal and child health care facilities are established as per grading criteria. Government sea ambulance services are available for patient transfer as per medical instruction from island health facilities. A total of 6 Regional Hospitals, 13 Atoll Hospitals and 165 Health Centres are established in the Maldives.
MDG goal 4 to reduce the mortality rate of children under five years by two-thirds, as of 2015, has been achieved and the subsequent challenge is to reduce associated morbidities. There has been marked progress in reducing infant mortality rates and maternal mortality rates; from 18 per 1,000 live births in 2012 to 8 per 1,000 live births in 2014 and maternal mortality rates 160 per 100,000 live births in 2002 to 41 per 100,000 live births in 2014.

Recently revised existing plans and strategies related to child health and developed national child health strategy with assistance from UNICEF, ‘Every Newborn’ action plan is being compiled for the Maldives and finalization process ongoing.

The Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) and Public Health Units (PHU) within island health facilities under guidance from Health Protection Agency (HPA), carry out mental health services. The National Mental Health at HPA, conducts frequent training sessions to provide technical guidance to the Atoll and Island Focal Points. It provides psychiatric medication across the country. HPA maintains the National Registry of people with mental illnesses since 2011 and a total of 144 children are in the registry. The Maldives is working on developing a mental health to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes. A draft Mental Health Policy is being reviewed and is to be adopted within the second quarter of 2016.

Most communicable diseases are reported with individual case details including age, date of onset and atoll/island, and though this is the case, surveillance are carried out (with daily reporting from peripheral to central level) for all communicable diseases. Treatment guidelines are available for clinical staff on treating communicable diseases, and trainings are provided. With seasonal and outbreak-prone diseases, regular refresher trainings via teleconference are held for clinicians, including guidance for referrals. Common communicable diseases in children include dengue, hand foot and mouth disease, acute respiratory infections, and acute gastroenteritis. To aware all locals on the Integrated Management of childhood illness, the strategy had been adapted to the Maldivian context.

With regard to the measures taken to implement the Drug Act (17/2011), five new regulations have been enacted under the act. A draft treatment programme for children has been developed and budgets have been allocated to establish a specialized rehabilitation and reintegration centre for children. Construction of the new centre is expected to commence within the year 2016. Diagnostic facilities and drugs are available at rural health facilities, according to the level of health center.

Two Special Newborn Care Units, 130 Newborn Corners and 24 newborn stabilization units has been established in almost all health facilities through (2009-2014). Nurses who would manage the Newborn Care Units were trained abroad in India and Thailand. A Master Training Programme on ‘Management of Sick Newborn Care’ has been conducted and 62 participants from most of the atolls have completed the program. A perinatal database is being maintained at the main tertiary hospital in Male’, and perinatal death reviews are ongoing. This project is to be scaled up to include regional hospitals in the near future.

The immunization coverage for the Maldives is on average 99 per cent with vaccination facilities available in each inhabited island. More notable progress in child health includes, re introduction of immunization and schools request vaccine cards upon enrolment. Where a child has not been vaccinated, the Ministry of Education facilitates an accelerated process of vaccination in children of school going age. (Vaccine preventable diseases such as neonatal tetanus, whooping cough, polio, and diphtheria are non-existent). Health Sector Response to Gender Based Violence National Guideline on providing care and prevention for Health Care Providers was developed in 2014. The Ministry of Health also undertakes routine teleconferences with atoll level health facilities to share expertise on RH and Child health issues.

16. Please indicate the steps taken by the State party with the view to making primary education compulsory.

In August 2015, a Cabinet resolution brought about major policy changes where every child will be afforded free education till secondary level by the State. Inclusion of all children is compulsory under the ‘no child left behind’ policy of the government.

Every inhabited island in the country has at least one primary school. All children across the country have access to primary education, free of charge. At present, there are 214 schools which provide primary education. There are 22 schools in Male’ and 192 schools in the atolls. This includes 4 private schools in Male’.

In determining the capacity within education system to provide access to grade 1 for the official school entrance age, data on the Gross Intake Ratio (GIR) for the country indicates a high degree of access. In the period from 2009 to 2014, the country has maintained a high GIR of more than 90 per cent, which consist of primary net enrolment rate of 98.6 per cent, lower secondary net enrolment rate of 81.5 per cent and higher secondary net enrolment rate of 23.6 per cent.

A child protection policy for children (2015) has been introduced for children attending educational establishments. Under this policy, all schools are mandated to carry out an early grade risk assessment where children at risk of dropping out, and children in risky environments are identified and targeted interventions are carried out for these children.

A mapping of out-of-school children is to be carried within the next few months. The existing school management system is being revamped, and a new database is in its design process, to improve the quality of data gathered by the Ministry of Education in order to capture all children of the school-going age within the system.

17. Please indicate the measures taken to develop an inclusive education policy and to address the discrimination faced by children with disabilities in the school setting.

An inclusive education policy was implemented in 2013. The policy is implemented to ensure and facilitate the education provision for children with disabilities across the nation.

The policy focuses on developing an overall strategy of inclusion, which will be a national initiative, promoting the entitlement of all learners to receive a broad and a balanced curriculum. The medium and method of teaching is adapted to suite the physical needs of children with disabilities. Apart from conducting advocacy for behaviour change towards children with disabilities the policy also prioritise working together with parents, guardians and other agencies to provide access to high quality education for children with special educational needs (SEN).

Currently there are 39 specialized SEN units across the country catering to over 400 students. These SEN units cater to children in mainstream schools, but requiring additional interventions than available in the mainstream settings. Children with disabilities who can be catered for in the mainstream settings are in the mainstream schools in the mainstream classes. 15 additional SEN units are to be established before the end of the year 2015.

In addition to this, there are NGOs working to deliver specialized educational services to children with disabilities. These include Care Society catering to children with multiple disabilities, Autism Association catering to children with Autism and Beautiful Eyes Maldives, catering to children with Downs Syndrome.

Teachers educating children with disabilities are given an additional allowance per working day than the mainstream teachers. Further, each child is given a stationary voucher of MVR 2500/- per academic year. Further, the student teacher ratio for children with mild to moderate disabilities have been mandated as 6:1 and in some severe cases 1:1.

Identification and intervention for pupils with SEN of school going age is also outlined in the policy. Targeted, responsive, and clearly described financial arrangements for pupils with SEN including provision for such children to move within the vicinity of an appropriate school and regular monitoring and review intake statistics and retention of all students have been outlined as well.

18. Please inform the Committee about the measures taken, including allocation of sufficient human and financial resources, to strengthen the labor inspection system, to train labor inspectors on detecting and addressing cases of child labor, as well as on measures taken against those who exploit children. Please indicate whether the State party intends to publish a list of hazardous occupations prohibited for children.

Child labour is more or less non-existent in the Maldives. It is not a prevalent practice in the Maldives at anytime in the country’s contemporary history. The Employment Act (2008) tightly regulates the employment of minors by inter alia setting sixteen as the minimum age for employment. The Act further prohibits any person under eighteen years of age from being employed in any way that may have “a detrimental effect on their health, education, safety or conduct”.

19. Please inform the Committee about measures taken to implement the Anti-Human Trafficking Act (12/2013), in particular the adoption of subsidiary laws and guidelines for its implementation. Please provide detailed information on the investigation of child trafficking related cases and the provision of prevention, protection and rehabilitation measures for child victims.

A 5-year National Plan of Action on Anti-Human Trafficking has been drawn up, and a national Steering Committee established, to formulate policy and monitor implementation of the Act. The Anti-Human Trafficking Act (12/2013) has been translated to English and four subsidiary regulations pertaining to the Act has been formulated. Awareness sessions on the Act was been conducted for the Members of Cabinet, Media, Anti-Human Trafficking Technical Committee, and the officials of the Public Sector.

A Baseline Survey was conducted in Male’ in 2014 to identify employment situation, recruitment processes and awareness on Trafficking in persons. Budgets have been allocated to conduct an in-depth Baseline Survey in 2016 to identify gaps within the system, including existing framework of identification and inspection.

A national hotline as a medium for reporting for victims of trafficking and child labour is to be established in 2016. Budgets had been allocated for the project, which also aims to receive reports on traffickers, thus strengthening the existing labour inspection system.

A services directory has been compiled and a Training of Trainers (TOT) workshop for 25 Social Workers of MoLG, with assistance from IOM was held in 2014 to enhance capacity of Social Workers to provide effective services for victims of Human Trafficking.

Specialized Units for victims of human trafficking is established within the Department of Immigration and Maldives Police Services to provide support and assistance. Section 35 of the Anti- Human Trafficking Act stipulates establishment of a Safe House or a Shelter for the victims of trafficking. Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure is currently working to identify a land for the construction of the Safe House in Hulhumale’. Further, meetings have been conducted with International Organization for Migration (IOM) to plan and draw a sample facility.

20. Please provide information on the measures taken to raise the age of criminal responsibility to an internationally accepted standard, to train judges about juvenile justice standards and to ensure that detention (including pre-trial detention) is used only as a last resort and that no child can be condemned by law to death or receive life sentence with or without parole. Please also provide information on whether the State party plans to explicitly ban the imposition of life sentence without the possibility of parole for offences committed by persons below the age of 18. Please inform about the conditions in juvenile justice facilities and about rehabilitation and reintegration programmes for children in conflict with the law.

Age of Criminal Responsibility

Under the existing Regulation on Investigation and Provision of Juvenile Justice under the General Regulations Act (Law No. 6/2008) the minimum age of criminal responsibility is 10 years of age. In the Child Rights Protection Bill and the Juvenile Justice Bill, the minimum age is set in line with the said regulation. Under the Child Rights Protection Bill and the Juvenile Justice Bill, minors between ages of 10 to 15 years, have the benefit of an excused defence. For minors between the ages of 15 years and below 18 years, they will have the benefit of excused defence subject to rebuttal by prosecution. With respect to bearing criminal responsibility for Hadd offences committed by minors, under the new Bills, minors of 10 years of age and above, must bear criminal responsibility for Hadd offences. In such cases, implementation of sentencing will be deferred to a time until the minor is above 18 years of age.

The newly adopted Penal Code (9/2014) considers immaturity of a child as a justifiable defence for children below the age of 15 years. According to Section 53 (b) (1), anyone under the age of 15 shall be conclusively presumed to have satisfied the requirements of the defence under that Section. Minors between the ages of 15-18 are presumed to have satisfied the requirements of the defence, subject to rebuttal by the prosecution. However, a minor accused of Hadd offences under Islamic Shari’a, and serious criminal offences that cause grievous bodily harm – must bear criminal responsibility for the alleged offence. For any minor between the age of 15-18 who is deemed to be culpable, and found guilty of an offence under the penal code, the implementation of their sentencing would be deferred to a time until they are above 18 years of age.

Training of judges

Judges adjudicating at the Juvenile Court have received juvenile justice training by the Juvenile Justice Unit (JJU) and are therefore, well versed with international laws and principles governing the area of child rights. Further, judges and legal staff have participated in overseas training programmes and exposure visits to gain experience and understanding of international best practices on juvenile justice.

In 2013, with funding and assistance from the UNICEF, and in collaboration with the JJU and the Maldives Police Service the Court held a training session for magistrates to raise awareness about juvenile justice procedures, the importance of case conferencing and community conferencing, as well as alternative sentencing options.

Detention as a measure of last resort

Juveniles accused of crime are detained where it is deemed necessary under Article 49 of the Constitution. The Court however, has discretion to order the child to be placed in home detention allowing the child to attend school or vocational centres, subject to conditions.

Where the juvenile is accused of murder and related charges, and assault with lethal weapons, public security interests demand that the child be placed under detention pending trial. Those in pre-trial detention are held separate from adults, and juveniles convicted and serving sentences.

Pertaining to life sentencing without parole for minors, as previously reiterated, the Maldives follows Shari’a and offences such as wilful murder are Hadd offences. In these cases, if convicted and all legal remedies exhausted, the State cannot currently repeal provision of a death sentence. However sentencing regulations stipulate that a minor may only serve two-thirds of a life sentence and the new Penal Code warrants for community-based sentencing.

Conditions of Juvenile Facilities

At present there is no permanent facility for institutional rehabilitation of children in conflict with the law. However, Educational Training Centre for Children (ETCC), initially under the Ministry of Education and later under the MoLG, with seven children at the facility has been recently brought under the Juvenile Justice Unit for a period of two years as a stopgap measure. Efforts are underway to strengthen procedures within the institution, to ensure adherence to international best practices on Juvenile Detention. A Standard Operating Procedure has been developed as a minimum standard to regulate and manage the institution.

Rehabilitation programmes

Children charged with crimes are given special assistance during pre-trial detention and investigation periods. Children in conflict with the law are assessed by the Juvenile Justice Unit (JJU) to understand the level of risk and vulnerability. High-risk offenders are provided support within and outside of detention facilities, such as life skills coaching, and are continuously monitored. JJU works closely with parents of children who are undergoing institutional reform, and are given parenting skills training to ensure effective rehabilitation and reintegration. From 2009 to 2013, a total of 42 children in conflict with the law has participated in correctional programmes held within correctional centres by the JJU and 35 children have successfully completed the programme and reintegrated back to the community. Additionally it provides programmes such as vocational training, employment and continued learning opportunities, which thus far had proven to be effective.

Juvenile Court regards the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders as a high priority. The Court, along with the Juvenile Justice Unit, relevant government departments and NGOs coordinates in the rehabilitation of children throughout the criminal process, from the moment the child is accused, through the trial and up until the child completes serving the sentence. Juvenile Court has a Probation Officer specifically appointed for the purpose of coordinating rehabilitation efforts.

At every point of the criminal process, every right of the child including the child’s right to be heard, is respected. Case and family conferences are conducted with the relevant government authorities, as well as with the juvenile and his or her family, during the pre-trial phase as well as before the court reaches a final determination of the case. Further, judges have the discretion to commute sentences to house arrest or community-based centres.

Where the family is not able to provide care and protection for a child offender who is detained pending trial, considering the best interests of the child, the court issues “Protection Orders” on the Ministry of Law and Gender and the Juvenile Justice Unit, entrusting these two government agencies with the responsibility of providing care, protection and rehabilitation to the juvenile.2

21. With reference to the Committee’s recommendations on the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (CRC/C/OPSC/MDV/CO/1), please provide further information on the progress made towards adopting a comprehensive national plan of action (para. 12), dissemination and training (para. 14), bringing the Penal Code in full compliance with articles 2 and 3 of the Optional Protocol (para. 25), and ensuring that child victims of any crimes under the Optional Protocol are not criminalized (para. 30).

There are no reported instances of the sale of children in the Maldives. It has not been prevalent practice in the Maldives at anytime in the country’s contemporary history. Further, sale of children is an offence under the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act (12/2013). A five-year national plan of action on anti-trafficking has been formulated and endorsed by the steering committee on trafficking of persons, and is in the process of implementation.

Soliciting or facilitating child prostitution and child pornography are punishable as criminal offences under the new Penal Code (9/2014). Section 621 of the penal code outlaws promoting or supporting prostitution, and according to Section 621(b)(1), the offence is graded at a higher level of class 3 felony if it involves a minor. Production and distribution of child pornography is outlawed under Section 622 of the Penal Code, with a higher offence grading given to instances involving minors than for other offences under the same section.

22. With regard to the Committee’s recommendations on the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (CRC/C/OPAC/MDV/CO/1), please report on the measures taken to criminalize violations of the provisions of the Optional Protocol regarding the recruitment and involvement of children in hostilities and on considering providing extra- territorial jurisdiction over acts contrary to the Optional Protocol (para. 11), as well as on measures taken to establish an identification mechanism for asylum-seeking and migrant children (para. 13)

The Maldives has never had an armed conflict, and there are no reported instances of involvement of Maldivian children in armed conflicts. However, the Maldives is observing, a degree of religious radicalization, as observed in many countries of the world, within its borders and abroad by its citizens. There are reports of Maldivians travelling to some parts of the Middle East with their children to join terrorist activities there.

As a pre-emptive measure, an Anti-Terrorism Act has been passed by the Parliament in October 2015 that outlaws engaging in terrorist activities in and outside the Maldives. Further, efforts are underway to strengthen and develop the border control systems to avert such incidences.

Kataloq: Treaties -> CRC
Treaties -> Review of the fifth periodic report of Yemen
Treaties -> Respuesta del Estado de Guatemala al Comité de Derechos Económicos Sociales y Culturales sobre la Lista de Cuestiones Relativas al Tercer Informe Periódico de Guatemala
CRC -> Ngo comments on the Initial Israeli State Report on Implementing the un convention on the Rights of the Child
Treaties -> The Equal Rights Trust and Promo-lex association
Treaties -> United Nations
Treaties -> 12nov15 Peru's crc submission 71st session final
Treaties -> 5th periodic report of the New Zealand Government under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Treaties -> Review of the fifth periodic report of Yemen
Treaties -> Respuesta del Estado de Guatemala al Comité de Derechos Económicos Sociales y Culturales sobre la Lista de Cuestiones Relativas al Tercer Informe Periódico de Guatemala

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