In an own initiative investigation regarding six minors living in Novi Kozjak near Alibunar in harsh conditions, the Protector of Citizens determined that all competent authorities made omissions in their work as a result of which the children were not provided with adequate and timely protection of their rights, which is why the children were left to fend for themselves in plain sight of all state bodies and institutions.
The Protector of Citizens states that the overall (lack of) acting by the competent authorities was inadequate, and that the identified omissions of all competent state bodies have led to the life and safety of children being endangered as well as two children not finishing primary school in the 21st century, which impacted their future and the future of the entire community.
It is impermissible that state bodies, both those handling specific cases and those supervising their work, deal with the mere obeying the form and not with the substantial issue of respect for, protection of and promotion of child rights. Primary point of competent authorities’ existence is to work in the interest of their beneficiaries, citizens and society as a whole.
In an investigation of controlling competent bodies’ work regularity and legality, the Protector of Citizens ascertained that Social Welfare Center "1 March” for Alinubar municipality did not take timely measures within its competence as it did not timely instigate the procedure for separating the child from the family, given the facts that indicated the inadequate care of the mother for the children. The Protector of Citizens’ Recommendation reads that this SWC should act in a timely, legal manner in its future work and continuously take measures within its competence in order to protect Childs’ rights and best interests.
In the control investigation, it was ascertained as well that the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy did not provide for an adequate number of professional workers in the SWC for Alibunar municipality. In the Recommendation, the Protector of Citizens states that the competent ministry should provide an adequate number of professional workers in the social welfare centers, which would enable adequate operation of those centers.
In addition, the Protector of Citizens has determined that Provincial Secretariat for Social Policy, Demography and Gender Equality did not take actions to timely inform the competent ministry on the insufficient number of professional workers in SWC for Alibunar municipality. Therefore, in the future work, this Secretariat should inform the competent ministry about the insufficient number of professional workers in the custody bodies, in order for that ministry to take further measures.
Furthermore, it was ascertained that Miloš Crnjanski Elemenatry School made omissions, as it did not protect timely the rights and interests of children who were denied the right to elementary education due to competent authorities’ failure to act. The Protector of Citizens stated in the recommendation that this school should prevent the consequences of parental neglect and protect the rights and interests of children in future work with timely reactions and further taking measures towards parents.
The Protector of Citizens requested from all competent authorities in this case to inform him within 15 days about the measures they have taken in order to act upon the recommendations.