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Singapore's fourth and fifth periodic report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child

Singapore has submitted its Fourth and Fifth Periodic Report ("Report") to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in November 2017. The Report covers Singapore's progress in implementing its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) between 2009 and 2016.

Singapore's Commitment to Protecting and Promoting the Wellbeing of Our Children

2   Every child is precious, and deserves to grow up in a safe and loving environment. The Singapore Government has continually refined its policies to better meet the needs of our children. In recent years, we amended the Children and Young Persons Act to enhance the welfare and care of children, the Women's Charter and the Administration of Muslim Law Act to better support children from divorced families. We enhanced the Child Development Co-Savings Act to increase support for families with young children and improve leave schemes to aid working parents to better manage their work and family responsibilities. Efforts to uplift the early childhood sector further demonstrate a commitment to give every child a good start in life.

3   The Report affirms Singapore's commitment to protect and promote the wellbeing of our children in line with the principles of the UNCRC. The Report also outlines Singapore's progress in enhancing the rights of children through improving the protection, care and holistic development of children. The Report emphasises the collective effort of the community and the Government in safeguarding and promoting children's rights in Singapore. It also addresses the Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on Singapore's Second and Third Periodic Report.

Feedback Gathered through an Inclusive Consultation Process

4   As part of the Report preparation process, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) invited relevant stakeholders to participate in roundtable discussions in March 2017 on pertinent child-related issues. MSF also invited members of the public to provide feedback on the draft Report from August to September 2017 through REACH.

5   MSF received valuable feedback from Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs), tertiary students and other members of the public during these consultations. Members of the public acknowledged that children in Singapore today have benefitted from the greater support given to parents to care for their children from an early age, such as through the KidSTART pilot. The comments also highlighted that the enhanced support given to children involved in police investigations has improved and made the processes more child-centric.

6   MSF also received positive comments for its efforts to support victims of child abuse and their families through customised services and diversified out-of-home care options, such as the Safe and Strong Family pilot and Small Group Homes respectively.

7   VWOs recognised the stronger public education efforts against child abuse and bullying, and suggested that these efforts be expanded further. Hence, besides making reference to the introduction of the Protection from Harassment Act, the Report also includes information on measures that Singapore is taking to spread awareness against bullying.

8   There were also suggestions on areas where the Government could further improve our policies on rehabilitation, address challenges in the digital era and protect children from falling prey to sexual abuse and grooming through the Internet. We also note the views to have more inclusive public housing provisions for single parents, and requests for greater support to recover maintenance for children affected by divorce.

Continued Partnership with Stakeholders to Protect and Promote Children's Rights in Singapore

9   MSF would like to thank stakeholders and members of the public who provided feedback. We will continue to work with stakeholders as part of our ongoing efforts to protect and promote the rights of children in Singapore. We will build on the good progress made, and invest even more in the early childhood sector. We will also put in more support for children from low income and vulnerable families, so that they have better access to basic health, learning, and developmental opportunities in the critical early years.

 


 

ANNEX

1. What is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)?

The UNCRC is a treaty which comprehensively provides for the rights of children, and sets standards on the provision of healthcare, education, legal and social services for children.

There are three Optional Protocols to the UNCRC. They are the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC), Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (OPSC) and Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure.

An Inter-Ministry Committee, co-ordinated by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), monitors Singapore's progress in implementing the UNCRC.

2. What is the Committee on the Rights of the Child?

The Committee is the body of 18 independent experts that monitors the implementation of the UNCRC by its State Parties. It also monitors State Parties' implementation of two Optional Protocols to the Convention, the OPAC and OPSC. (Source: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. See http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRC/Pages/CRCIndex.aspx)

3. What are Singapore's obligations under the UNCRC?

Singapore acceded to the UNCRC in October 1995. This reflects our commitment to undertake appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures to give effect to the rights recognised under the Convention. It is also a commitment to work in the best interests of the child when designing and administering programmes and services.

Singapore ratified the OPAC in December 2008, which came into force in January 2009. OPAC comprises 13 articles and seeks to ensure that children below the age of 18 years are not recruited into armed forces and do not take part in direct hostilities.

All States Parties, including Singapore, must report to the Committee on the measures they have adopted which give effect to the rights recognised in the UNCRC and the progress made on the enjoyment of those rights.

4. What are concluding observations?

Concluding observations are observations and recommendations issued by a treaty body after consideration of a State Party's report. Concluding observations refer both to positive aspects of a State's implementation of the treaty and areas where the treaty body recommends that further action needs to be taken by the State. The treaty bodies are committed to issuing concluding observations which are concrete, focused and implementable and are paying increasing attention to measures to ensure effective follow-up to their concluding observations. The Committee on the Rights of the Child is the treaty body that considers and issues concluding observations for UNCRC periodic reports. (Source: www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/Pages/TBGlossary.aspx ).

The last set of concluding observations made by the Committee are addressed in the current report.

5. What are some of the key areas of progress mentioned in Singapore's 4th and 5th UNCRC Periodic Report?

Some key areas of progress are stated in Table 1.

Table 1: Key Areas of Progress on the Rights of the Child

Area

Key Progress

Implementation

-        Enhanced the Children and Young Persons Act, Administration of Muslim Law Act, Women’s Charter, and Child Development Co-Savings Act.

-        Enacted new legislation, such as the Protection from Harassment Act, Prevention of Human Trafficking Act, Family Justice Act and Early Childhood Development Centres Act.

 

General Principles

-        Enhanced practices and legislation in line with the principle that the child’s best interests are a primary consideration.

-        Made strides in building an inclusive society through the third Enabling Masterplan and ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

-        Strengthened efforts to deepen racial harmony by signing the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

 

Civil Rights and Freedom

-        Support for children’s expression of views within measures prescribed by law.

 

Violence against Children

-        Enhanced assessment tools and frameworks for child protection.

-        Intensified public education to raise awareness of family violence and strengthened help channels for persons exposed to family violence.

 

Family Environment and Alternative Care

-        Enhanced marriage and parenthood measures to better support parents in having and caring for their children.

-        Increased provision of affordable and quality centre-based infant care and childcare, with additional support for lower-income families.

-        Enhanced protection of the interests of children affected by divorce through introduction of divorce-related specialised services and programmes.

-        For children who cannot remain with their natural families, expanded alternative family-based care options such as foster care, and diversified residential care options to cater to children’s different needs.

-        Introduced interventions towards family preservation and reunification, for families whose children were exposed to child abuse and neglect. 

-        Reviewed the programme for children who are assessed to be beyond parental control to emphasise the responsibility of the family and the role of community-based support.

-        Ratified the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and enacted the International Child Abduction Act to strengthen efforts to prevent illicit transfers and non-return of children.

 

Disability, Basic Health and Welfare

-        Extending the right of compulsory education to all Singaporean Primary 1 children with moderate to severe special educational needs from 2019.

-        Set up a continuum of support programmes for children with disabilities to provide them with a conducive and inclusive learning environment.

-        Enhanced mental health/wellness measures.

-        Improved social security schemes.

-        Better protected children from drug abuse through amending the Misuse of Drugs Act to target those who recruit young or vulnerable persons into drug trafficking, and establishing an Inter-Agency Taskforce to tackle drug abuse.

 

Education, Leisure and Culture

-        Established more diversified education pathways to cater for children’s varying ability levels.

-        Changed scoring system for Primary School Leaving Examination, which will take effect from 2021, to engender a less stressful and more creative learning environment for students.

-        Set up the Early Childhood Development Agency to improve quality of child care.

 

Special Protection Measures

 

-        Strengthened legislation that deals with exploitation through enactment of the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act.

-        Enhanced measures to combat trafficking with accession to the UN Protocol on Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and ratification of ASEAN Convention Against TIP.

-        Built up capabilities for early detection of child trafficking among enforcement officers.

-        Better support for children during investigations with appropriate adult support and victim care.

-        Introduced more upstream measures to prevent youth from falling into crime.

-        Implemented a triage system for young offenders to be assessed for timely intervention and support.

-        Expanded rehabilitation options for young offenders through broadened diversionary programmes to steer youth away from the criminal justice system.

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Published On Fri, Nov 3, 2017
Last Reviewed On Fri, Nov 3, 2017

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