In a letter addressed to Christine Lambrecht, the Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection and Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth of Germany, made public today, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, urges the German authorities to ensure that the best interests of children are considered a priority in all government action affecting them. “At a time when the severe detrimental effects of the pandemic and related containment measures on children and youth are so clearly emerging, the protection of their rights and needs should be an absolute priority for the German government”, she stressed.
The Commissioner regrets that, despite repeated calls by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, children’s rights are still not anchored in the German Constitution. She therefore encourages the Minister to pursue efforts to ensure that the German Constitution provides the same guarantees as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, in particular with respect to the primary consideration of the best interest of the child and strengthened child participation guarantees.
Since Germany has imposed especially strict lockdowns on schools, the Commissioner underlines that keeping schools open should be a key objective for governments and that closures, given their adverse long-term effects on child health and well-being and on educational outcomes, should be considered only as a measure of last resort when other measures have proven ineffective.