This content was published in the period between 3 October 2014 and 20 January 2019

Ministers on this page who have left the Government

Between 3 October 2014 and 8 March 2018 she was Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality.

Ministers on this page who have left the Government

Between 3 October 2014 and 8 March 2018 she was Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality.

Opening statement by State Secretary Pernilla Baralt at the sixty-eighth session in Geneva, Committee on the Rights of the Child

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Madam Chair,
Distinguished members of the Committee,
Ladies and gentlemen.

As the State Secretary in charge of Swedish policy on the rights of the child, it is an honour and a privilege for me to represent the Swedish Government and lead the Swedish delegation in this dialogue.

I am happy for this opportunity to discuss with you the fifth periodical report of Sweden on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Promoting and protecting the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights, including the right of the child is a core value and a central priority for the Swedish Government in national as well as in foreign policy.

To bring about real improvements in the lives of children is a priorty for the government. In the statement of the new government the prime minister clearly declared that it is our vision is to make Sweden one of the best countries for all children to grow up in. To further strengthen the implementation of the CRC is crucial in this work.

Children’s rights also need to be a cross cutting political priority with impact on several policy area such as education, social security, legislation and justice, migration policy and health.

The composition of my delegation reflects this broad mandate of Swedish policy on the rights of the child in all areas of government.

Madam Chair, members of the committee

Some weeks ago the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzay for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. The work and engagement of Malala and Kailash are an inspiration to us all not least to ensure that children and young persons have a say.

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The right of the child to have a say and be taken seriously in all matters affecting the child is a real challenge for decision-makers at all levels. Legislation and economic resources are not enough. We need much more - awareness rising, training, new working methods, skills and experience in listening to children. The Ministry of Health and Social Affairs plans to take further action in order to promote awareness and knowledge about how to promote and protect the rights of the child.

One of the goals of the Swedish policy - and clearly stated in our strategy – is that children have opportunities to influence and participate in society. Important work has been done by the Ombudsman for Children who has developed methods on how decision-makers and professionals at all levels of society can learn from children’s and young people’s knowledge and experience.

Distinguished members of the Committee,

Let me turn to another area of great importance to Sweden - which is the protection of children at risk.

In this context, the social services are an important actor, as a primary interface between the state and the child.

In the past few years, there has been tragic cases where children have suffered maltreatment and even deadly violence. These cases have received a lot of attention from decision-makers, professionals and the general public. The Swedish Government will do everything in its power to avoid similar situations in the future.

We need to enhance the ability and competence of all parts of society, including the social services, to act promptly when they receive signals or information about children at risk.

New legislation has already resulted in several changes. For instance, procedures must be in place for preventing, detecting and combating risks posed to children’s safety and wellbeing. When suspected child abuse and neglect is reported, the social services must immediately assess whether or not the child needs emergency protection.

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Education is crucial for all children to enable them to claim and defend their rights and achieve their full potential.

One of the fundamental principles of the Swedish school system is inclusion. Educational institutions shall take into consideration the different needs of all pupils, strive to weigh up differences in preconditions to give each girl and boy the same opportunities.

The best interest of the child is the starting point in all education. It is the task of the school to create conditions that allow all pupils as far as possible to develop in accordance with the educational goals.

International comparisons show that Swedish school results have declined. This development is taken very seriously and a series of reforms have been launched such as to increase the amount of teaching time, clarify further the evaluation of pupils’ results as well as to reinforce teachers’ expertise, role and status.

The Education Act was amended on 1 July 2014 to further enhance the right of pupils to support.If there is reason to believe that a pupil will not achieve the minimum performance standard, this child shall promptly be given adequate support.

It has also been clarified that children with disabilities are to receive the individualised support that is required.

There is also a need to further improve educational conditions for children who have recently arrived in Sweden. Therefore the Government has instructed the National Agency for Education to produce and distribute support and training material for schools. The Government is also preparing a new bill for adoption in 2015.

Children in homes for care or residence have a right to high quality education. To stenghten and promote thuis right the Government las month decided that such children are entitled to attend a school in the same municipality as the institution.

Madam Chair,

The Swedish Ombudsman for Children is responsible for informing the Government about deficiencies in the implementation of the rights of the child by government agencies. The Ombudsman’s annual report is a valuable source of information and a catalogue of possible remedies for fulfilling the rights of the child in various circumstances.

Children who for various reasons have been taken into care are especially vulnerable. Through in-depth interviews with children and young people, the Ombudsman has received information that coercive and intrusive measures such as physical restraints and solitary confinement are still widespread in psychiatric institutions. The Government is therefore taking several steps to reduce coercive measures against children.

One example is a current proposal to stipulate that coercive measures may only be taken against a child if it is in the child’s best interests. The use of belts is also proposed to be limited to two hours. An official inquiry is also examining possibilities for restricting solitary confinement.

Another observation made by the Ombudsman for Children refers to children suspected of crimes and the use of restrictions against children in pre-trial detention.

A working group under the Prosecutor-General is preparing proposals aimed at reducing the use of isolation and other restrictions. The Prosecution Authority is expected to finalise its work on this issue in April 2015.

Distinguished members of the Committee,

Children arriving in Sweden as asylum seekers, whether with their parents or unaccompanied, must be met by a humane and legally secure asylum system. Their application must be considered in a process where their voice is heard and their needs are taken into account.

The Swedish Aliens Act contains a number of provisions ensuring that the rights of the child are considered in all parts of the migration process. Futher measures are continuously being taken to strengthen the position of children in the asylum process.

The number of asylum-seeking children in Sweden is increasing. During 2014, about 6 900 unaccompanied children sought asylum in Sweden. This is an increase of 80 per cent compared with 2013. Next year, Sweden expects about 8 000 unaccompanied children to seek asylum. The Swedish authorities take great responsibility when it comes to providing protection for these children.

The National Board of Health and Welfare has published specific guidelines on the reception of unaccompanied children and young people. They clarify the division of responsibilities between different actors, the social services’ work and responsibility to provide good care.

I also want to underline that the Swedish Government and relevant authorities are making continuous efforts to combat trafficking in children and to assist victims of trafficking. A new action plan for the protection of children against human trafficking, exploitation and sexual assaults was adopted in February 2014. We have informed you about the measures included in this action plan in our written replies to your list of issues. We intend to further update this action plan.

We are deeply concerned about the cases of unaccompanied children disappearing from reception centres. One of the measures in the action plan is therefore for the Swedish Migration Board to report on the measures taken to identify cases in which children are exposed to, or at risk of, human trafficking.

Madam Chair,
Distinguished committee members,

As you know, Sweden was the first country in the world to ban corporal punishment of children in all settings.

Sweden recently hosted a governmental conference on corporal punishment . This process will continue and we hope that this international dialogue can help to speed up the process of banning corporal punishment.

Allow me also to underline Sweden’s strong political support for the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children. Throughout her mandate period, Marta Santos Pais has received financial support from Sweden.

Madam Chair,
Distinguished members of the Committee,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Over the last 25 years, we have transformed the articles of the Convention into provisions in relevant Swedish laws. This is the traditional Swedish way of implementing international treaties which Sweden has ratified.

However, we are constantly seeking ways to improve the implementation of the rights of the child in our country. That is why the new Swedish Government decided this autumn to begin the work to incorporate the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the Swedish law system as a national law.

A first important step in this process has already been taken by setting up an inquiry to analyse how, in particularly important areas, the application of laws and other regulations complies with the Convention. This work is in progress and will be finalised as soon as possible.

The Government has noted that the third optional protocol to the Convention has entered into force. Since the Government took office in early October, investigatory work concerning the incorporation of the Convention into Swedish legislation has been prioritised and the Government has yet to consider a ratification of this latest protocol.

Madam Chair,
Distinguished members of the Committee,

To conclude, I want to stress that my government will put the rights of the child at the heart of our work and we will stand by our word to ensure that Sweden is be one of the best counties for children to grow up in.

Therefore the Swedish government we will continue to promote and to ensure respect of the human rights of ALL children, together with relevant public entities at all levels with continued important input from childrens rights organisations.

I now look forward to your comments, questions and any recommendations you may have on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Sweden.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Ministers on this page who have left the Government

Between 3 October 2014 and 8 March 2018 she was Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality.

Ministers on this page who have left the Government

Between 3 October 2014 and 8 March 2018 she was Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality.