Geneva, 26 September 2012 – On 24 September, Austria presented its most recent report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva. The Austrian report was presented by an inter-ministerial delegation headed by the director of the International Law department of the Austrian Federal Ministry of European and International Affairs, Ambassador Helmut Tichy. During the discussion with members of the expert body, the focus was on Austria's lowering the voting age, the quality of healthcare facilities and its role of pioneer in the “diversion” (alternative punishment options) for delinquent youths. The members of the Committee were also interested in the most recent provisions concerning the punishment of cyber-mobbing and grooming and asked for information on Austria's strategies to combat violence in the family.
Other questions referred to the difference in youth protection regulations between the individual provinces, the possibility to start one's military service before the end of the 18th year of life, and the baby hatches in Austrian hospitals. While the experts welcomed the enshrining of the rights of the child in the Austrian Constitution, they also suggested taking the protected rights further. Ambassador Tichy commented: "We will carefully examine all recommendations of the Committee together with representatives of civil society who had submitted their own report before the review."
The Committee on the Rights of the Child is composed of 18 experts who monitor compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Each signatory state of this human rights agreement that has been ratified by nearly all states in the world is obliged to submit regular reports about the implementation of children's rights in its country. The Committee then publishes concluding comments and makes recommendations. The final comments and recommendations for Austria are expected to come next week.
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