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Belgium rapped over smacking children

Published on 29/05/2015

A top rights body on Friday said Belgium and the Czech Republic were violating a European treaty because they have not yet fully banned the smacking of children.

The Council of Europe said the “corporal punishment of children is not subject to a sufficiently clear, binding and precise ban” in the two countries.

More than half of the 47 members of the Strasbourg-based group, including Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, have completely forbidden smacking.

The Council of Europe’s criticism follows a complaint lodged by the Britain-based child protection charity Approach, which says that the laws in seven European countries violate the European Social Charter, a treaty first adopted in 1961 and revised in 1996.

Previously, the council has chastised France, Slovenia and Ireland.

While Italy was also included in the complaint brought by Approach, the council absolved the Mediterranean country of wrongdoing in April.

The British NGO meanwhile dropped its criticism of Cyprus after the authorities reformed their laws.

The Council of Europe however ruled that legislation and jurisprudence in Belgium and the Czech Republic are insufficiently clear and binding in their prohibition.

While the council’s European Committee of Social Rights cannot bring redress to victims of abuse, as the European Court might, its decisions are binding.

Those in favour of a complete ban point to the mental and physical harm suffered by the child.

Worldwide, 17 other countries have a complete ban on corporal punishment for children, notably in South America, Central America and Africa.