On 19 October 2006, the Greek Parliament passed Law 3500/2006 on the Combating of Intra-family Violence, under which corporal punishment of children within the family is prohibited. Article 4 of the new law states:
“Physical violence against children as a disciplinary measure in the context of their upbringing brings the consequences of Article 1532 of the Civil Code.”
Article 1532 of the Civil Code provides for various consequences for abuse of parental authority, the most serious being the removal of parental authority by the courts.
The new law results from the work of the Greek Network for the Prevention and Combating of Corporal Punishment of Children, a committee of government and non-government bodies established in October 2005 specifically to draft legislation which would prohibit all corporal punishment, following an earlier finding by the European Committee of Social Rights under the Collective Complaints procedure of the European Social Charter that Greece was in violation of article 17 of the Charter because of the absence of such a prohibition (Resolution ResChS(2005)12, Collective complaint No. 17/2003 by the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) against Greece, adopted by the Council of Ministers on 8 June 2005).
A press release announcing the prohibition, issued by the Greek Ombudsman (Department of Children’s Rights) on 1 November 2006, noted that the Network was disappointed that the new law does not specifically use the term “corporal punishment”, but is satisfied that the more general term “physical violence” is intended to include corporal punishment by the explanatory report issued to Parliament by Ministers responsible for the introduction of the bill which stated that “by the provision of article 4 (of the bill) it is made clear that the corporal punishment of children is not included in the permissible disciplinary measure of article 1518 of the Civil Code”. (Article 1518 of the Civil Code enshrines parents’ right to use “corrective measures” but “only if these are necessary from a pedagogic point of view and do not affect the child’s dignity”.
The prohibition brings to 15 the number of states in Europe (16 worldwide) that have enacted legislation explicitly prohibiting all corporal punishment of children, including in the home setting. The others are Sweden (1979), Finland (1983), Norway (1987), Austria (1989), Cyprus (1994), Denmark (1997), Latvia (1998), Croatia (1999), Bulgaria (2000), Germany (2000), Iceland (2003), Romania (2004), Ukraine (2004) and Hungary (2005).
The new Greek law, which comes into force on 24 January 2007, will now form the basis of a public education campaign to be launched by the Greek Network aimed at raising awareness of the need to end the use of corporal punishment of children.
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