Independent Television News Limited Online (ITN), June 22, 1998

Corporal punishment in the dock in Europe Court of Human Rights--
A teenager is taking Britain to court in a test case over corporal punishment.

A hearing at the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, was taking place on Monday afternoon in the case brought by the teenager, identified only as A.

The boy, born in 1984, claimed he was regularly caned by his stepfather, who was tried before a jury for assault but acquitted by a majority verdict in February 1994.

The UK Government has conceded that the punishment of the boy - who had been placed on the Child Protection Register - breached his human rights.

But lawyers for the teenager are pressing ahead with the case, hoping for a ruling which outlaws corporal punishment.

A spokesman for the court said: "The commission has found there was a violation of the convention on human rights, and the Government has conceded that.

"What the appellant appears to want is something more than that, he is looking for some sort of statement that says corporal punishment is wrong."

The current law in Britain, which dates from 1860, allows for "reasonable chastisement" of children in the home.

The case was lodged with the European Commission in July 1994 by A and his natural father.

The Commission, which declared A's complaint admissible but not his father's, ruled in September 1997 that A's human rights had been violated because the law had failed to protect him from "degrading treatment or punishment". A ruling from the court of human rights is not expected for three or four months, the spokesman said.

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