1. The Union of Myanmar shares borders with Bangladesh, India, China, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Thailand. It cooperates with neighbouring countries as a good neighbour based on friendship and mutual understanding in political, economic, social and security matters. Moreover, it has been cooperating with neighbouring countries based on mutual understanding in various issues, such as the prevention of trafficking in persons, eradication of drug abuse and migrant workers, and also seriously on regional peace, stability and development. Myanmar’s population according to 2006 estimates is 56.5 million, 28.1 million of which is male and 28.4 million is female. The population under 18 years of age is 21.4 million, 37.87 per cent of the total population.
2. The Government has been making relentless efforts systematically in all spheres for the emergence of a peaceful, modern and developed nation. Twenty-four special development regions, the development plan for the border areas, and the rural areas development project have been laid down to build the economic foundations which were actually needed, the basic fundamentals for human resources and all-round development of the State, and have been consistently realized with high aspirations.
3. The agricultural sector is the mainstay of Myanmar’s economy and constituted 40.2 per cent of the national economy in 2005–2006, the last year of the third five-year short-term plan. Two hundred and four dams, 305 river pumping projects, and 7,569 wells and 1,023 tanks have been built. In 1988 irrigated area was 1.487 million areas but now increased up to 4.9 million areas. The cultivation capacity in 1988 was only 121 per cent, but now it is 161.8 per cent. The Government has been endeavouring for all-round development of all sectors, agricultural sector as the base while development of the industrial sector is encouraged with the objective to become a modernized and wealthy country. The industrial sector constituted 15.4 per cent of the total GDP in 2005–2006 and is the second largest of the productive sectors. In order to promote the development of industries, 18 industrial zones have been opened and assisted private industries to progress. Seven hundred and ninety-one Government factories and 101,000 private factories have been established.
4. As an infrastructure development is crucial for economic development, necessary development works are being carried out for the infrastructure development in every region of the State. Hence, the Government has accorded high priority to infrastructure development projects, such as construction of irrigation networks, roads, bridges, railway lines, port facilities, airports, electrical power and communication facilities. In the education sector, 156 universities and colleges have been opened up to now. Such progresses in education, health, transportation and communication not only benefit directly to human resources development but also support the reduction of poverty. Moreover, the development of national races has been enhanced.
5. For the emergence of a peaceful, developed and disciplined democratic nation and the perpetuation of the Union, relentless efforts have been made in momentum to lay strong foundations for the prevalence of peace and tranquillity in the country, uplifting the dynamism of the Union spirit, a strong national economy, widening the scope of knowledge of the people and narrowing development gap among the States and Divisions. The Government is endeavouring for the community peace and prevalence of law and order throughout the country, including border areas.
6. The Government is implementing the seven-step Road Map based on national objectives in order to build an enduring State that is consistent with Myanmar’s prevailing history, traditions, customs and cultures. The State is implementing the nation development tasks with momentum in accordance with 12 political, economic and social objectives. The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement undertakes the activities of social welfare and development according to social objectives. In doing so, disabled persons and older people are being taken care of through preventive, protective and rehabilitative measures by using social methods to reintegrate into the society.
7. Myanmar regards children as leaders of the future and, therefore, the Myanmar National Plan of Action for Children (2006–2015) in conformity with the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Child Law, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), A World Fit for Children (WFFC) and various regional plans of action has been adopted and being implemented.
II. General measures of implementation
Implementation of the rights
Measures to make national laws and policy in line with the provisions of the CRC
8. The Myanmar National Committee on the Rights of the Child set up a 10-member Task Force on 20 May 1999 to review the Child Law, 1993. The Task Force reviewed whether the provisions of the Child Law are in conformity with the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
9. The recommendations of the Task Force that some provisions of the Child Law be amended to bring them in line with the CRC were forwarded to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and the Office of the Attorney General. Following respective review processes and consultations, these two bodies have decided to make as many amendments as possible in the Rules relating to the Child Law.
10. In the exercise of the authority vested with in accordance with section 74 (a) of the Child Law, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement adopted the Rules relating to the Child Law (the Rules) on 21 December 2001. The Rules contain 17 Chapters, 109 Rules and 36 Standardized Forms covering all aspects of the rights of the child.
11. The following are some provisions of the Rules that give better effect to the Child Law:
(a) Rules 16, 17 and 18 of the Rules have established a mechanism by which complaint of acts committed against the child can be pursued by the relevant Rights of the Child Committee;
(b) Rule 79 of the Rules provides clarification mentioned below on child imprisonment under section 46 of the Child Law, which stipulates that a child shall only in extraordinary cases be imprisoned:
“(1) A child shall not ordinarily be sentenced to imprisonment;
(2) Only if the Juvenile Court is satisfied that the child has committed an offence which is punishable with death or transportation for life under any existing law and that the child is of so unruly or depraved a character or absolutely uncontrollable, he shall be sentenced to imprisonment;
(3) Such sentence of imprisonment shall not exceed a term of 7 years;”
(c) Rules 75 and 98 of the Rules relating to the Child Law provide that the Office of the Attorney General and the respective law offices shall appoint a lawyer at the expense of the government to defend an indigent child accused of an offence punishable with the death sentence.
12. In order to review the Child Law and other relevant laws, the Supreme Court has been cooperating with other related departments, such as the Office of the Attorney General, the Department of General Affairs, the Department of Social Welfare (DSW), Myanmar Police Force (MPF), the Prison Department and the Department of Health (DOH).
Measures taken to reinforce administration
13. Rule 3 of the Rules relating to the Child Law provides the duties and powers of the National Committee on the Rights of the Child, and section 74 (b) of the Child Law stipulates that relevant ministries, departments and government organizations may issue orders and directives as may be necessary. Rule 5 provides the duties of the Working Committee and Subcommittee, Rule 7 provides the duties and functions of the State and Divisional Committees on the Rights of the Child, Rule 9 the duties of the District Committees and Rule 11 sets out duties and functions of the Township Committees.
Mobilization of the community
14. The Deputy Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, Chairman of the Working Committee on the Rights of the Child, gave educative talks on the prevention of recruitment of under-age children, the provisions of the CRC, CL and child protection, particularly child abuse, neglect and exploitation, at the following workshops:
(c) Child Protection Workshop Mawlamyaing Township, Mon State;
(d) Child Protection Workshop, Pa-an Township, Kayin State.
16. In order to give widest possible public awareness of child rights and for the children to enable them to enjoy their rights best, the National Committee on the Rights of the Child reprinted copies of the Child Law both in Myanmar and English languages with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and distributed at the related training courses and workshops. Furthermore, pamphlets on the CRC and the Child Law and posters are also distributed.
17. Lectures on the CRC and the Child Law are being given at the social welfare training courses which are conducted at the Social Welfare Training School under the Department of Social Welfare.
18. The Department of Social Welfare is the focal point for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and has been implementing the tasks of the National Committee on the Rights of the Child. Hence, in order to raise public awareness of the provisions of the CRC, particularly among members of the CRC, and for the effective implementation of the CRC, workshops on child protection and on child abuse, neglect and exploitation are being conducted under the Myanmar-UNICEF Country Programme (2000–2005). The objectives of the workshops are as follows:
(b) To raise awareness on child protection among community leaders;
(c) To identify ways and means to eradicate child abuse, neglect and exploitation in the community.
19. Under the leadership of the Department of Social Welfare, training course manuals are written, mobile teams consisting of staffs from the Department of Social Welfare, Myanmar Literacy Resource Centre and members of the Myanmar Red Cross Society have been formed and training courses for the trainers have been conducted. Such mobile teams have been conducting awareness-raising workshops in 16 States and Divisions, 24 Districts and 127 Townships since 2002 with the collaboration of UNICEF.
20. In doing so, they also travelled to remote areas in the Kachin, Kayah, Chin, Shan (North), Shan (East) and Rakhine States. These remote areas include Putao and Machanbaw in Kachin State, Demoso in Kayah State, Konlone in Shan State (North), Mongyan and Mongkhat in Shan State (East), Kanpetlet and Tonzan in Chin State and Man-aung in Rakhine State.
21. Target groups of the workshops are the CRC members, community leaders, representatives from non-governmental organizations and local authorities. The workshops raise awareness among local people of the prevention, protection and rehabilitation services, which leads to mobilization of social forces in the community concerned and effective implementation of family-based and community-based programmes.
22. In these workshops, pamphlets on the CRC and the Child Law and posters, comics and notes are distributed with the support of UNICEF. After attending workshops, the participants conduct multiplier courses among their families and within the community concerned and coordinate with the Divisional Social Welfare Offices and the Township CRC members regarding children in need of protection in their communities.
23. The workshops provide interactive discussions on child protection; definitions of types and impact of abuse, neglect and exploitation; corporal punishment; prevention of trafficking in persons and the recruitment of under-age children into military service. In doing so, interactive discussions, role play and case studies are also carried out.
24. In order for the children to understand the child rights themselves, human rights educational lessons are included in the moral and civics subject taught in the Basic Education Schools from Grades 5 to 9.
25. Under the human rights knowledge programme, the right to stay with both parents, the right to freely express their thoughts, the right to play freely, the right to participate and the right to be protected, the right of school-age children to get access to education, the facts concerning the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and Myanmar’s activities relating to CEDAW are taught in Grades 5 to 9.
26. In Grade 8 and Grade 9, the concepts and special characteristics of human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, economic, social and cultural rights, and the right of every country to participate freely in accordance with its own traditions and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are being taught. In giving human rights education, brainstorming, group discussion, discussion within the class and assessments are carried out, practising participatory discussion method.
27. Furthermore, programmes which facilitate the expression of child’s wishes are included in the songs, videos and movies produced under registration.
III. Definition of “child” (art. 1)
28. The definitions of child and youth in accordance with section 2 of the Child Law were mentioned in the second periodic report (CRC/C/70/Add.21). In July 2006, the National Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended the amendment of the Child Law, 1993, and preparation to amend the age of a child to be 18 years is under way.
29. Regarding exemption from the penal action, preparation is being made to amend the age of a child from 7 years to 10 years in section 28 (a) and to amend the range of age of a child from 7 to 12 years to 10 to 12 years in section 28 (b) of the Child Law as a child under 10 years of age is considered not to have sufficient knowledge and maturity to be able to make sound judgement of the nature and consequences of his conduct.
30. In order to protect child employees in accordance with the Child Law, preparation is also being made to amend section 24 (a) (3) that only a child who has attained the age of 15 years can be employed with the exception for those who work in income-generating business of the family concerned.
IV. General principles
A. Non-discrimination (art. 2)
Relevancy with the law
31. Measures relating to equal enjoyment of the child rights were mentioned in the second periodic report.
32. The State has been energetically carrying out five rural development tasks — smooth transportation, clean water supply, education development, health care and economic growth — in order to narrow the gap between hilly regions and lowlands and between rural and urban areas.
33. In Myanmar, every citizen has the right to freedom of religion, freedom of thinking and freedom of belief. All national groups have the privilege of adorning their respective traditional costumes, vernacular languages, and practising their respective customs and traditions.
34. The National Health Committee, in providing comprehensive health-care services, has adopted the National Health Policies giving emphasis on both rural and border areas has been providing health care in border areas. Nursing training courses are conducted, volunteer health workers are given training and basic health-care courses are conducted at regional hospitals.
35. The Rural Health Development Plan (2001–2006) for the rural areas where the majority of the people reside has been adopted under the guidance of the Head of State and primary health-care services are provided to children of the rural communities, including border areas. The National Plan for Border Area Health Development has also been developed and implemented for the promotion of health status of communities in border areas. New clinics and hospitals have been opened in rural and border areas, basic health staffs are appointed and medicines and medical apparatus are supplied to these clinics and hospitals.
36. The Ministry of Education has been endeavouring for all citizens to have access to basic education. Children from rural to urban areas as well as in border areas are provided with opportunities to learn preschool education to high school education. The last week of May is designated as a School Enrolment Week during which enrolment for school-age children is carried out throughout the country as a national movement. In these activities, personnel concerned from the Ministry of Education, local authorities, members of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), members of the Myanmar Women’s Affairs Federation and members of the Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare Association participated actively. Well-wishers and social organizations donate various educational materials. Such enrolment activities resulted in 97.84 per cent enrolment in 2006.
37. Disabled children have been given education under the inclusive education programme. Twenty one thousand five hundred and twenty disabled children are studying under the programme. The children who cannot attend formal schools for various reasons can learn through the non-formal education programme.
38. Mobile schools have been opened for children who have to accompany their parents who move from time to time because of the nature of their work as they are employed with forest projects, or at project sites and construction sites. Altogether 43 mobile schools have been opened and 58 teachers have been appointed providing education to 1,603 students in 15 townships. All students from border areas, rural areas and urban areas have equal access to education.
39. In the education sector, the border area development programme in collaboration with the Ministry of Education constructed 85 primary schools, 90 middle schools and 92 high schools. Moreover, INGOs, partners of this project have provided school buildings and books. The students whose parents have abandoned poppy growing have been provided with rice and learning materials under the “Food for Education” programme carried out with the collaboration of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). In addition, the Department of Education and Training under the Ministry of Progress of Border Areas and National Races and Development Affairs has established 27 training schools along border areas for poor children from various national groups who have been deprived of opportunities to receive formal education.
40. The Ministry of Progress of Border Areas and National Races and Development Affairs has conducted vocational domestic training and income generating and public awareness courses in collaboration with relevant ministries and local authorities.
B. Best interests of the child (art. 3)
Relevancy with the law
41. For the best interest of children, the 1993 Child Law and the 2001 Rules related to the Child Law have been promulgated. It was described in detail in the second periodic report.
42. Myanmar delegates to the twenty-seventh special session of the General Assembly on children held a meeting on 31 May 2002, to share experience regarding the special session. In accordance with the decision of the meeting to draft a National Plan of Action to implement “A World Fit for Children” declaration under the guidance of the Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, drafting of a national plan of action (NPA) for children has been undertaken. The task force to draft the NPA consisting of 17 members under the leadership of the Director General, Department of Social Welfare was formed.
43. The Myanmar National Plan of Action for Children includes four sections: Health and Nutrition, Water and Sanitation, Education and Early Childhood Development and Child Protection.
44. Each section has seven subtitles: Justification, Objective, Strategies, Plan of Action, Resource requirements, International cooperation and collaboration, Monitoring, Evaluation and Expected Outcome.
45. The status of implementation, achievements, challenges and needs are included in the Justification. In line with “A World Fit for Children” and with the targets of the MDGs and decisions of regional meetings, objectives and strategies until 2015 have been formulated based on the accomplishments in 2004.
46. The implementing programme is drafted, taking into consideration the programmes which are suitable for the country, practicable procedures and fixed time frame in order to achieve the goals.
47. In the section of resource mobilization and international cooperation, the requirements of funds, technology, manpower and resources are to be met through increased State budget, cooperation of international organizations and internal and external donors.
48. Monitoring and evaluation are to be carried out through information and data collection, regular reports, field studies, and assessments on effectiveness and adaptability of the plans, projects and programmes.
49. To improve the standard of child’s health; to prevent diseases that occur due to unsafe water and poor sanitation, to improve access to quality education and to improve a protective system for the children in need of protection and prevention and rehabilitation programmes are the objectives of expected outcome. Family-based and community-based child protection measures are more emphasized and indicators for respective sections are provided.
C. Survival and development of the child (art. 6)
50. Measures for survival and development of children have been mentioned particularly in paragraphs 24, 28, 29 and 31 of the CRC.
D. Respect for the children to express his/her own views (art. 12)
Relevancy with the law
51. It was mentioned in the previous national report that section 13 (a), (b), and (c) of the Child Law clearly allows children to express their views, section 33 (c) (iv) of the Law allows to listen to explanations by children, section 35 (b) of the Law allows to respect wishes of children and section 36 (d) and (e) of the Law allow to provide help to children in solving their personal problems.
52. Section 21 (f) of the Rules relating to the Child Law prescribes that poem reciting competitions, song competitions, storytelling competitions, round-table talks, and impromptu debates are held occasionally, section 21 (g) provides training for children to learn poem composition and essay writing skills, and section 21 (h) provides arrangements for singing, music and dancing programmes performed by children themselves.
53. The Ministry of Education and other related ministries have been working in accordance with the rules mentioned above to place emphasis on the opinions of children. Competitions for extempore talks, essays, reciting poems, composition of songs, short stories, painting and puzzle games are held in commemoration of significant anniversaries, national and international events.
54. Starting from 1998/99 academic year, a day of the first week of January is designated as School Family Day on which students, teachers and parents meetings are held. Children’s physical, intellectual, and moral capacity and all-round development, as well as children’s opinions are expressed on that occasion. During the ninth School Family Day held on 6 January 2006, over 300,000 personnel, including teachers, school heads, parents, community members, well-wishers and 7.8 million students participated by conducting students’ capacity shows, competitions, funfairs and prize distributions for outstanding students.