Invested with the mandate to interpret the provisions of the Charter, the Committee has the power to issue authoritative interpretation of the Charter, in order to clarify its meaning and scope. This is generally done through “General Comments”. These are tools used by treaty bodies to provide a substantive elaboration of the meaning of treaty provisions, as well as an in-depth analysis of procedural concerns regarding the human rights treaties.
To date, the Committee has issued 2 General Comments; on Article 30 and Article 6 of the Charter. General Comment N°1 (GC 1) on Article 30 deals with children of imprisoned parents, General Comment on Article 6 (GC2) deals with the issue of birth registration, name and nationality and prevention of statelessness.
– General Comment on Article 30: Children of incarcerated and imprisoned parents and primary caregivers
The main objectives of the GC 1 are to strength understanding of Article 30 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (the Charter) and to define the legislation, policy and practice necessary to achieve its full implementation.
The Committee asserts that the provisions of Article 30 do not just apply to mothers but also to fathers and primary caregivers who may be a foster parent or another family member such as a grand-parent. This is because large numbers of children in Africa are orphaned or living separated from their parents but may still require the protections guaranteed in Article 30. Article 30 applies when primary caregivers are accused or found guilty of infringing the criminal law. This encompasses all stages of criminal proceedings starting from arrest and continuing through to release and integration. The provisions of Article 30 apply whether the primary caregiver is in custody or subject to non-custodial measures.
The Committe has also developped a short guide to GC1 to ease its understanding and use by children rights practitioners.
-General Comment on Article 6: Name and nationality.
Notwithstanding its heading (Name and Nationality), Article 6 recognizes three interlinked rights namely the right to a name (Art 6 (1)), the right to birth registration (Art 6 (2)) and the right to a nationality (Art 6 (3)). It also provides for state obligations with regard to the implementation of the right to a nationality (Art 6 (4)). The purpose of this General Comment is to give the meaning and scope of these rights and explain the corresponding obligations of the States parties to the Charter for their implementation.
This General Comment is addressed to all stakeholders who play a role in the implementation of the African Children’s Charter and especially the rights embedded in Article 6. This includes agencies of States parties – Parliaments and judiciaries, civil society organizations, academics, legal practitioners, and civil registry authorities. Its main objectives are to explicate principles contained in the rights provided for under Article 6 and to give the above stakeholders guidance on its implementation in practical sense.