On December 10, 2015, the Peruvian Congress approved by a near unanimous vote (74 in favour, one abstention) the Law prohibiting the use of physical and other humiliating punishment against children and adolescents (“Ley que prohibie el uso del castigo físico y humillante contra los niños, niñas y adolescents”).
The reform came about following the submission of three previous legislative initiatives (Bill 451812014-CR, Bill 430312014-CR and Bill 3654113-CR) which had been considered by the Committee on Women and Family. In examining the initiatives, the Committee drew on information and opinion provided by the Ombudsman’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations and UNICEF. The Committee examined relevant current law in Peru and international human rights norms, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Committee also considered research on the prevalence of corporal punishment in Peru, and examined the laws prohibiting all corporal punishment in other countries in the region (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela). And finally, the Committee examined the costs and benefits of prohibition with regard to the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations, the Public Ministry, families in general and children and adolescents themselves.
The Committee concluded that solving the problem of corporal punishment means enacting legislation aimed at ensuring “nobody in the country can strike even moderately, against any child or adolescent, also incorporating the right to good treatment”, and this involves clear prohibition and repealing the “right to correct”. The Committee recommended approval of the three above-mentioned initiatives, consolidating them into a single law. Article 1 of this law as approved in December 2015 clearly prohibits corporal punishment in all settings (unofficial and provisional translation):
1. Purpose of the Law
To prohibit the use of physical and humiliating punishment against children and adolescents.
This prohibition applies in all areas where children and adolescents are, including the home, school, community, workplaces and other related places.”
The law defines physical punishment in article 2 as “the use of force, in the exercise of powers of upbringing or educating [children or adolescents], intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort in order to correct, control or change the behaviour of the children and adolescents”. Humiliating punishment is defined as “any offensive, denigrating, devaluing, stigmatizing or mocking, in the exercise of the powers of upbringing or education, in order to correct, control or change the behaviour of children and adolescents”.
The law amends the Code of Children and Adolescents by inserting a new article 3-A confirming the right to good treatment:
Children and adolescents, without exception, are entitled to good treatment, which means to receive care, affection, protection, socialization and nonviolent education in a harmonious, supportive and nurturing environment in which will be provided comprehensive protection, either by their parents, tutors, or legal representatives, as well as their teachers, administrative, public or private authorities or anyone else.
The right to good treatment is reciprocal among children and adolescents.”
The new law explicitly repeals article 74(d) of the Code on Children and Adolescents and article 423(3) of the Civil Code, both of which authorised parents and others to “moderately correct” children.
- Global Initiative country report for Peru
- Ley que prohibe el uso del castigo físico y humillante contra los niños, niñas y adolescents (in Spanish)
- Full report of the Committee on Women and Family (in Spanish)