The Committee and The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) adopt their first ever Joint General Comment on Ending Child Marriage.
The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child under Article 42 (a) (iii) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights under Article 45 (1) (c) mandate the Committee and the Commission to cooperate with other African institutions, among others. In accordance with this mandate, the two organs adopted their first Joint General Comment on Ending Child Marriage. The Joint General Comment is based on the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) Article 6(b) and the African Children’s Charter Article 21(2). The Maputo Protocol stipulates that ‘the minimum age of marriage for women shall be 18 years’, while the African Children’s Charter prohibits ‘the betrothal of girls and boys’ and provides for the minimum age of marriage to be 18 years. Even though both instruments prohibit child marriage, the practice remains to be rampant in Africa. This has necessitated the adoption of the Joint General Comment in order to accelerate the fight against child marriage in the Continent.
The Joint General Comment elaborates on the nature of State Party obligations that arise from Article 6(b) of the Maputo Protocol and Article 21(2) the African Children’s Charter. It expounds upon the underlying principles of interpretation that serve as a lens through which the relevant provisions of the aforementioned instruments should be understood. It further describes legislative, institutional and other measures that should be taken by States Parties to give effect to the prohibition of child marriage and to protect the rights of those at risk or affected by child marriage. The scope of the General Comment covers children in child marriages, children at risk of child marriage and women who were married before the age of 18. The document gives guidance to Governments, CSOs, IGOs, child protection clusters, practitioners, individuals and groups in any effort towards the elimination of child marriage and protection of children in this context.
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