The Protector of Citizens determined that the competent guardianship authorities in Bogatić and Šabac have failed for 13 years to provide adequate and timely protection for four children from Bogatić who have been exposed to neglect, domestic violence and the risk of human trafficking, which led to endangering the lives and safety of the children and requested them to establish the accountability of the expert workers for the omissions made.
After learning from the media that the police in Bogatić filed a criminal charge against children’s mother for neglect and abuse, the Protector of Citizens initiated own-initiative investigations in late 2020 to control work legality and regularity of competent social welfare centers in Bogatić and Šabac and the Ministry of Family Welfare and Demography, formerly the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs.
In the control investigation, the Protector of Citizens determined that the competent centers from the first reports that children were exposed to violence and neglect in 2008 did not initiate any procedure to protect children from domestic violence, nor the procedure for their removal from the family, although they were obliged to do so, as well as that they did not initiate procedure to deprive the parents of parental rights.
The omissions identified in the work of guardianship authorities have led to years of endangered life, health, safety and overall development and progress of four children, and that these bodies, whose remit this is, have failed to undertake any measure within their competence in order to protect them, the Protector of Citizens concluded.
In the Recommendations to rectify the omissions, the Protector of Citizens has requested that the managers of the Centers in Bogatić and Šabac in their future work ensure that the guardianship authorities take timely measures within their competence in order to protect the children from all forms of violence, and to send their expert workers to trainings aimed at identifying of and adequately responding to the situations involving suspicion of trafficking in human beings and child abuse.
The Protector of Citizens has requested the competent Ministry to order the Centers’ managers to determine the reasons why the expert workers made omissions in their work and to conduct adequate proceedings, as well as to order them to act timely in their future work in compliance with applicable regulations and prevent the abuse of children by parents or others.
The Protector of Citizens has requested the Ministry for Family Welfare and Demography to consider the existence of possible shortcomings in the work of this guardianship authority regarding risk assessment of child abuse and trafficking in human beings.
All monitored bodies are given a 30-day deadline to notify the Protector of Citizens on acting upon the Recommendations.