Ireland ‘abusing Human Rights Of Children’ With Current Smacking Laws


Ireland has been found in breach of the European Social Charter, over laws governing the smacking of children.

In a decision published today, the Council of Europe’s European Committee of Social Rights found the corporal punishment of children “is not prohibited in a sufficiently clear, binding and precise manner under Irish legislation or case-law.”

The committee also points out that it has repeatedly found that the situation was not in line with the European Social Charter.

“Violence against children, including corporal punishment, is a major abuse of their human rights, and equal protection under the law must be guaranteed to them,” it says.

“The Council of Europe has been working to see corporal punishment of children outlawed in each of its 47 member countries, and positive parenting programmes set up by governments to encourage parents to make the family violence-free,” it adds.

As it stands, parents can defend the use of physical chastisement against their children in court.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald says the government will comply with the ruling – but she does not believe we are behind the rest of Europe in protecting children.

“I don’t believe we are – we don’t have a specific prohibition, but we do have a potential charge that can made on parents” she said.

“But we want to be fully in compliance, so Minister Reilly is now bringing forward further guidelines in relation to children in residential care or childcare settings to prohibit specifically corporal punishment” she added.

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