Today, the Protector of Citizens, Mr. Zoran Pašalić, announced that the new Law on the Protector of Citizens, drafted by the experts from the Institution, would significantly improve the field of child rights protection by strengthening the independence and autonomy of the Deputy Protector of Citizens for Child Rights within the Institution and strengthening the Deputy’s capacities.
At the moment, we are not entitled to directly control the work of the court administration, but we can do that by controlling the work of the Ministry of Justice, which we did a few days ago when the details of the verdict for sexual abuse of a child were published in the media, Mr. Pašalić said at the conference “The Rights of Particularly Vulnerable Children Groups in the Serbian Judiciary”.
Mr. Pašalić urged the judiciary bodies and the media not to make public the details of court verdicts on child rights violation since it traumatizes children manifold for the rest of their lives. “In our contacts with the children who experienced traumas, we learned that they were secondarily traumatized in court proceedings, and then additionally in the media", the Protector of Citizens accentuated.
The Deputy Protector of Citizens for Child Rights and Gender Equality, Ms. Jelena Stojanović, stated in the panel discussion that this institution had been successful in addressing child rights protection for 13 years by rectifying omissions and shortcomings made by the competent state authorities.
Further to the announcement of the Minister of Labor, Mr. Zoran Đorđević that he will table to the Parliament for adoption the Draft Law on Child Rights Protection and the Protector of Child Rights, Ms. Stojanovic said that there was already an institution that worked on it - the Protector of Citizens.
She stated that the establishment of a new institution, which implied additional costs for equipment, salaries of new civil servants and starting the practice from the beginning, posed an unnecessary budgetary cost, and that the new protector of child rights would have no new competencies or powers other than those that already existed within the Ombudsman Institution.
Ms. Stojanović believes that the issue of the protector of child rights credibility also arises, considering that, the Ministry of Labor has had the most omissions in the work regarding child rights protection, which was why the Protector of Citizens had to intervene. They neither established social and health institutions for eight years, nor provided conditions for the work of the Centers for Family Accommodation, nor did they increase the number of employees, although the number of cases in the social welfare centers is constantly on the rise, she said.
Ms. Stojanović also reminded that the social welfare centers, which were under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Labor, by suspending activities during the state of emergency declared due to the Covid-19 pandemic, had an adverse effect on the situation in the field of child rights protection, which was why the Protector of Citizens had to intervene.