CRC/C/GC/12 page 7
in all matters affecting her or him. In this respect, the Committee underlines the following:
− First, in its recommendations following the day of general discussion on implementing child rights in early childhood in 2004, the Committee underlined that the concept of the child as rights holder is “... anchored in the child’s daily life from the earliest stage”.5 Research shows that the child is able to form views from the youngest age, even when she or he may be unable to express them verbally.6 Consequently, full implementation of article 12 requires recognition of, and respect for, non-verbal forms of communication including play, body language, facial expressions, and drawing and painting, through which very young children demonstrate understanding, choices and preferences;
Second, it is not necessary that the child has comprehensive knowledge of all aspects of the matter affecting her or him, but that she or he has sufficient understanding to be capable of appropriately forming her or his own views on the matter;
− Third, States parties are also under the obligation to ensure the implementation of this right for children experiencing difficulties in making their views heard. For instance, children with disabilities should be equipped with, and enabled to use, any mode of communication necessary to facilitate the expression of their views. Efforts must also be made to recognize the right to expression of views for minority, indigenous and migrant children and other children who do not speak the majority language;
− Lastly, States parties must be aware of the potential negative consequences of an inconsiderate practice of this right, particularly in cases involving very young children, or in instances where the child has been a victim of a criminal offence, sexual abuse, violence, or other forms of mistreatment. States parties must undertake all necessary measures to ensure that the right to be heard is exercised ensuring full protection of the child.
“The right to express those views freely”
The child has the right “to express those views freely”. “Freely” means that the
child can express her or his views without pressure and can choose whether or not she or he wants to exercise her or his right to be heard. “Freely” also means that the child must not be manipulated or subjected to undue influence or pressure. “Freely” is further intrinsically related to the child’s “own” perspective: the child has the right to express her or his own views and not the views of others.
States parties must ensure conditions for expressing views that account for the
child’s individual and social situation and an environment in which the child feels respected and secure when freely expressing her or his opinions.
The Committee emphasizes that a child should not be interviewed more often
than necessary, in particular when harmful events are explored. The “hearing” of a child
is a difficult process that can have a traumatic impact on the child.
5 6 CRC/C/GC/7/Rev.1, para. 14. Cf. Lansdown G., “The evolving capacities of the child”, Innocenti Research Centre, UNICEF/Save the Children, Florence (2005).