UN Committee on the Rights of the Child delivers its first decision on the merits of an individual communication

Thursday, January 25, 2018

On 25 January 2018, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child adopted its first view on the merits of a communication under the individual complaints mechanism, in respect of Communication no. 3/2016 - IAM (on behalf of KYM) v. Denmark. The complaint was brought by a Somali woman on behalf of her daughter, who complained that their removal to Somalia, where the girl risked being forcefully subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM), would violate her rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Danish government had argued, inter alia, that these concerns had been thoroughly assessed and dismissed by the national asylum authorities, that FGM was prohibited by law in all regions of Somalia, and that the woman was an independent woman who would have enough personal strength to resist social pressures and to protect her daughter from being subjected to FGM. The Committee on the Rights of the Child recalled its General Comment no. 6 that Contracting States shall not return a child to a country where there are substantial grounds for believing that there is a real risk of irreparable harm of the child, and that the assessment of this risk should be conducted in an age and gender-sensitive manner. It also reaffirmed that, as per its General Comment no. 18, female genital mutilation may have various immediate and/or long-term health consequences, which must be acknowledged by immigration and asylum law and policies.

The Committee noted that, although FGM is prohibited by law throughout Somalia and that its prevalence appears to have declined in the applicant’s region, the practice is still deeply ingrained in the society as 98% of Somali women have been subjected to it. With reference to its General Comment no. 22, the Committee recalled that the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration in decisions concerning the return of a child. In the case in question, Denmark had failed to take this principle into account by disregarding the individual circumstances of the applicants in the light of the persistently high prevalence of FGM in the Puntland State of Somalia and by inappropriately making the rights of the child dependent on the mother’s ability to resist family and social pressures. Therefore, it found that Denmark violated the applicant’s rights under Articles 3 and 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


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Best interest of the child
Child Specific Considerations
Female genital mutilation