CRC/C/GC/12 page 17
The right to freedom of expression embodied in article 13 is often confused
with article 12. However, while both articles are strongly linked, they do elaborate
different rights. Freedom of expression relates to the right to hold and express opinions, and to seek and receive information through any media. It asserts the right of the child not to be restricted by the State party in the opinions she or he holds or expresses. As such, the obligation it imposes on States parties is to refrain from interference in the expression of those views, or in access to information, while protecting the right of access to means of communication and public dialogue. Article 12, however, relates to the right of expression of views specifically about matters which affect the child, and the right to be involved in actions and decisions that impact on her or his life. Article 12 imposes an obligation on States parties to introduce the legal framework and mechanisms necessary to facilitate active involvement of the child in all actions affecting the child and in decision-making, and to fulfil the obligation to give due weight to those views once expressed. Freedom of expression in article 13 requires no such engagement or response from States parties. However, creating an environment of
respect for children to express their views, consistent with article 12, also contributes towards building children’s capacities to exercise their right to freedom of expression.
Fulfilment of the child’s right to information, consistent with article 17 is, to a
large degree, a prerequisite for the effective realization of the right to express views. Children need access to information in formats appropriate to their age and capacities on all issues of concern to them. This applies to information, for example, relating to their rights, any proceedings affecting them, national legislation, regulations and policies, local services, and appeals and complaints procedures. Consistent with articles
17 and 42, States parties should include children’s rights in the school curricula.
The Committee also reminds States parties that the media are an important
means both of promoting awareness of the right of children to express their views, and of providing opportunities for the public expression of such views. It urges various forms of the media to dedicate further resources to the inclusion of children in the development of programmes and the creation of opportunities for children to develop
and lead media initiatives on their rights.
Articles 12 and 5
Article 5 of the Convention states that States parties shall respect the
responsibilities, rights and duties of parents, legal guardians, or members of the extended family or community as provided for by local custom, to give direction and guidance to the child in her or his exercise of the rights recognized in the Convention. Consequently, the child has a right to direction and guidance, which have to compensate for the lack of knowledge, experience and understanding of the child and are restricted by his or her evolving capacities, as stated in this article. The more the child himself or herself knows, has experienced and understands, the more the parent, legal guardian or other persons legally responsible for the child have to transform direction and guidance into reminders and advice and later to an exchange on an equal footing. This transformation will not take place at a fixed point in a child’s development, but will steadily increase as the child is encouraged to contribute her or his views.
Day of general discussion on the child and the media (1996): www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/6/crc/doc/days/ media.pdf