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Model complaint form and guidance note

Model complaint form and guidance note

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has published a new individual complaints form and guidance note. What are the requirements for preparing and filing an individual communication to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child?

The OHCHR published the model complaint form and guidance note. The model complaint form and guidance note can be used when an individual or individuals would like to send an individual communication to one of the UN Treaty Bodies, such as the Committee on the Rights of the Child. Both documents are published in English, French, Russian and Spanish.

The model complaint form

The model complaint form enables individuals to provide the information needed to file a complaint:

  • the name of the Committee;
  • the State party or States parties;
  • personal information and contact details of the complainant;
  • personal information of the victim (if different from the complainant); and
  • contact details of counsel or other representative (if the complainant is represented).

The model complaint form contains questions requiring ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers such as: would the complainant/victim like to be anonymized in the decision; has the same matter been submitted under another procedure or regional/international investigation or settlement; and is the complainant is requesting interim measures or measures of protection?

The individual must also summarize the main facts concerning their case, including information on domestic remedies. The individual must then address how and why the facts violate his or her rights under the CRC.

The guidance note

The guidance note outlines key steps to be taken before filing a complaint. First, the complainant/victim needs to identify the Treaty Body to which he/she would like to submit the communication. Second, it is important to make sure the State party in question has recognized the competence of the Committee to receive individual communications and that the events of the alleged violation occurred after – or continued beyond – that date, before filing a complaint. Recently, the CRC Committee listed the status of ratification by treaty and by country.

Together, the model complaint form and the guidance note inform and assist individuals to file a complaint before the CRC Committee under the CRC OP3. This enables individuals to follow the required procedural steps without consulting the legal text of the CRC OP3 itself. This could be of added value for those without a background in law who would like to file a complaint, and therefore increases the accessibility of the CRC OP3 to children and families without legal representation (provided they are literate and speak one of the four languages the documents are available in).