“Implementation of the legislation related to children’s rights and the Convention on the rights of the child”
The Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia on the 2nd of November 2010 public hearing on the topic “Implementation of the legislation related to children’s rights and the Convention on the rights of the child” was held. Expose of MA Dragi Zmijanac – Executive Director and Founder of the First Children’s Embassy in the World - Megjashi This year the Convention on the Rights of the Child celebrates its 21 anniversary, yet an exceeding figure of 70% of school children in Republic of Macedonia are not familiar with their rights. This was the result of the survey carried out by the First Children’s Embassy Megjashi, among 2,234 school children at 10 to 18 of age, in 41 primary schools and 24 secondary schools in 7 towns in Republic of Macedonia. The data was processed by BRIMA GALLUP Skopje.
In spite of the presence of the boisterous reforms and policy creating, both children and their families, especially those form a deprived background fail to comprehend their basic rights: right to quality health care; right to education as well as rights to participation and involvement.
Right to education
The Constitution of Republic of Macedonia clearly states that both the primary and secondary education are obligatory and free of charge. It would be ideal if the population as a whole completes their secondary education, however it poses a difficult goal to reach until there are 18,500 children (according to the Ministry of Education and Science 5% of the children are not even included in the primary education). This is the reality and a depressive situation which we point out on every occasion, moreover we strive all responsible entities in the institutions of the system to go to utmost efforts in order to improve the situation by including all children in the primary education.
Children not being involved in the educational process are easily susceptible victims of the worst forms of abuse of child labour (prostitution, begging etc.)
Including all children in the educational process
Complete implementation of the Inclusive Educational Strategy through development and executing inclusive educational programmes for children with special needs
Strategic planning and technical preparation in creating inclusive educational programmes by involving special educators (special education teachers) in the educational process for children with special needs
Promoting informal education that will enable post-training and retraining of contemporary working posts in the labour market
Preparation of programmes for children with special needs in order to acquire informal education
Modification and supplementation of laws aiming to enable children at 9 and 14 of age to be included in the educational and training process due to the fact that according to the Law on primary education they can not be included in education after having completed 9 years of age, while in compliance with the Law on adult education the afore stated children can only be included in education after having completed 14 years of age.
Abuse of child labour
Although Convention 182 against the worst forms of child labour was ratified by the Parliament of R.M. in 2001 still the issue of illegal work, for abuse of child labour is an area not being researched or analyzed yet and the stated still exists and has a negative impact on children’s rights.
Contemporary trends of child labour exploitation forced to work on streets, inns, dumps are exposed to extreme weather conditions, street violence, life without basic hygiene means, are easily susceptible to deviant behavior such as crime, so children spend their time outside the educational process in order to earn money. Motives for which children are more frequently labour exploited are low economic standard of the major part of population, family poverty, exploitation done by parents or third parties, low level of education of both parents and children, poor living conditions within the family etc.
In 2007, a 13-year-old child XX from Gostivar passed away due to his work in a car wash service. This tragic case indicates one more proof that the abuse of child labour in RM presents a reality. This also denotes a drastic example of violating the Convention on the Rights of the Child regulations, Convention against the worst forms of child labour (182) and the National laws.
The state does not have exactly established figures about the increasing number of this type of children. Most of them are Roma citizens, unfortunately there is no progress leading to permanent solutions, assuring protection of children, to access to education and anew social integration. In Day Care Centres providing protection for street children basic hygienic needs are being met (the children are being bathed), they are being provided with clothes, one meal and elementary educational and training lessons. Nonetheless, the Day Care Centres are not a permanent solution to claim their basic rights to home and education. It is essential to obtain adequate protection and assistance in recovering and anew integration of the street children and to develop a comprehensive strategy to cope with basic causes leading to this phenomenon.
Quite often, street children are not orphans, they do have parents, and their parents initiate them to beg and sell. These children are being neglected twice – once by the state and the second time by their parents.
There are certain children that are invisible to the system i.e. children that lack documents, major part are Roma citizens of Macedonia, another great part of them are without health insurance, they are not included in the educational system, although Laws on health clearly state that each citizen of R. Macedonia is obligated to have health insurance.
To form refuge centres that will take care of whole families, thus enabling them minimum existence which will prevent the street children to continue their activities on the street and their inclusion in the educational system.
Development of family support strategy
Increasing the capacities of state social services to protect street children
Direct intervention and assistance for street children and their families
Child abuse, neglect and violence:
The situation of children’s exposure to violence in our state is more than alarming! Violence over children is becoming an everyday activity, so children receive corporal punishments, are abused and mistreated. Information received from the SOS telephone line for children and youth of the First Children’s Embassy Megjashi denote an increased number of violence cases (physical, psychical and sexual) involving children. While in 2007 the figures of such cases were 13,4%, in 2008 they were 39,1%, while in 2009 they reached 48,2%.
Reporting cases of incest and paedophilia on our SOS telephone line for children and youth and our numerous reactions for functional protection of children by the state institutions increased the threshold of intolerance towards children’s rapists. Punishments for these severe criminal offences have been increased for minimum 8, i.e. 10 years prison sentence. The national plan for children’s protection action against sexual abuse and paedophilia and the efforts of Republic of Macedonia for its prompt and efficient implementation and the ratification of the Convention by the European Council to protect children from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. The First Children’s Embassy in the world Megjashi in order to act more adequately with the child-victim of sexual abuse, paedophilia and incest proposes a Refuge Center for children victims of sexual abuse, special care for these children in the course of the first 72 hours, strengthened by shelter families in other towns where such pulses to open these refuge centres do not exist.
In the course of the proceedings that will prove offender guilty, it is strictly prohibited the child-victim to be faced with the stated due to the fact that it causes additional psychological trauma, lack of trust in the efficiency and effectiveness of the protection system. Although the Law on Juvenile provisions the child to give 2 or 3 statements at the most, we assume this to be solely one statement, in a special screen room in the presence of a judge, a social worker, a psychologist, a pedagogue and a police inspector in plain clothes. The video argumentation will be used in the further course of the proceedings in proving offender guilty.
Four children missing in only one month
There is a search after 4 children missing in only one month, all of them coming from rural areas. Megjashi emphasises that children from rural areas and from deprived families are the most frequent prey of trafficking with children.
The children’s Embassy Megjashi appeals to the Ministry of Interior Affairs not to exclude citizen’s doubts that the most frequent disappearing of children is related to trafficking with children and child organs, kidnapping, the existence of organised group of children’s kidnappers in order to force them beg, prostitute and take part in pornography.
The person X is a father of 2 juvenile daughters, 7 and 8 of age. He did not live together with their mother and have agreed mutually to accommodate the children in the boarding school in Ljubanci.
Every weekend from December 2008 to March 2009 the father went to the boarding school and collected his daughters and took them to his home, where along with a 28-year-old friend of his, they have sexually abused the girls, threatening them that if they reveal the matter, they will be slain.
Despite the information of being an alcoholic and a suspect to several criminal acts prior to this, the Center for Social Affairs gave their consent to the father to be with his daughters during their free time.
The violence which lasted for 3 months, was reported by the younger sister to one of the teachers in the boarding school.
On 03rd November 2009, 29-year-old mother S.Dz. murdered her seven-year-old son.
The seven-year-old Selmir on his way to the hospital died from the injuries caused by his mother hitting him on his head and body with a hard object.
Prior to the macabre homicide, several criminal reports against the mother were submitted, for neglecting and maltreatment of juvenile, for theft, for abduction of juvenile, for which in several occasions was sentenced to prison. The police state that the Center for Social Affairs from Skopje was informed about the mother’s long criminal record.
Such was the case with the person XX which recurred this criminal act for the third time. He even kidnapped two children protйgйs from the Children’s Home ‘October 11’ and one of them was held hostage for 23 days. He tormented the child in the most gruesome manner, and the entities responsible from the stated institution did not know the whereabouts of the children. None of this institution assumed responsibility, and the person XX was sentenced to 15 years prison - for the first time in Macedonia.
There is no safe treatment to work with paedophiles during their prison sentence, there is no safe surveillance and they can not be followed after they leave prison, they do not register in the Centres for Social Affairs and the paedophiles lacking medication therapy which controls their urge and libido, with no surveillance of the Centres for Social Affairs and the police, the stated paedophile can recur his criminal act.
Aiming to act for early prevention and terminating violence and child abuse, the Committee UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended to the Government of R. Macedonia to assure a continuity, including here certain financial assets for a free 24-hour help line and to recognise as a source of information and data for policy and laws on children’s rights as well as a tool for early prevention and termination.
Centres for Social Affairs should act more on the field and carry out inspections in the dysfunctional families, in order to detect and prevent promptly possible violence and child abuse. Delayed depriving of the parental rights after the parent murders or rapes their child is regarded as an unproductive action of the Centre for Social Affairs. Strict surveillance and following the families at risk as well as more active mobility of social workers on the field can lead to certain results in order to prevent the condition of the dysfunctional families. Judges should sentence maximum punishments for offenders violating or disputing children’s rights in any possible means, especially in case of sexually abusive offenders and paedophilia.
Prevention is definitely the best possible means to deal with a problem, which is the reason necessary to supplement the educational and training system in Republic of Macedonia with certain topics like: non violent communication, constructive handling of conflicts, stereotypes and prejudices. Pacific education to be a part of the curricula, as well as studying violence as a phenomenon and the possibilities for its transformation in a constructive and non violent means. To train the pedagogue staff for non violent solution of conflicts and to intend the education for each child and each teacher on each educational level.
Children’s right to participation and respecting their opinion (Article 12)
Numerous legal modifications exist provisioning the children’s right to participation. Despite the fact that these legal regulations exist in the legislation system of RM it has not been obtained a consistent application of Article 12 from the Convention. Hence the child continues not to be treated as a subject to rights, still on a higher level the child plays the role of a passive object, whose rights and interests depend on their parents, guardians or state organs. The First Children’s Embassy Megjashi not only gives the support moreover it practices children’s participation. Thus, their own report on the situation of children’s rights was prepared by the children themselves, consequently two representatives presented the stated on a special meeting with members from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
To provision a legal regulation for the child to state their opinion in certain proceedings when a decision is being reached when they should be taken away from one of their parents or when a decision is being reached which of the parents they will stay with, should the parents cease to live together or should a divorce arise
In the Law on Family a regulation should be inserted that parents have the obligation to consult their children and take into consideration their opinions, their viewpoints and wishes, depending on their age and maturity level when they reach decisions on their behalf, their rights and interests
The juvenile depending on their age and maturity level to initiate by himself certain proceedings for a possible alteration of their name
Law on health care should provision that the surgical and other medical interventions on juveniles, the consent should also be given by the juvenile, not only by the parents or guardians, here taking into consideration their age and maturity level.
The aim of the public hearing was to monitor the implementation of the legislation on the child’s rights. In the opening speech the president of the commission, Mr. Ilija Kitanoski, stressed that this public hearing envisages inquiring of the authorized representatives which are directly involved in and are working on the implementation of the Convention on the rights of the child.
This session was opened with the statement of the Minister for Justice Mihajlo Manevski, and then the session was followed by the statements of the Minister for Education and Science Nikola Todorov, the Minister for Labor and Social Policy Dzelal Bajrami, the Minister for Health Bujar Osmani, the Deputy Ombudsmen Nevenka Krusharovska, the representative of UNICEF Mr. Sheldon Yett, the Executive Director and Founder of the First Children’s Embassy in the World Megjashi Mr. Dragi Zmijanac, the Executive Director of the Coalition SEGA Zoran Ilieski and the Professor Mr. Gordan Kalajdziev, which gave their recommendations and answered on the inquires of the members of the commission.