The special report on the monitoring of child care institutions26 04 2012
On April 25, 2012, the Public Defender of Georgia published the special report of the National Preventive Mechanism which reflects the results of the monitoring conducted in child care institutions in December 2011 by the Department of Prevention and Monitoring of the Public Defender’s Office with the status of the National Preventive Mechanism. The monitoring was carried out in 13 large and 17 small, family-type children’s homes.
During the monitoring, the monitors checked the quality of the protection of beneficiaries’ rights in child care institutions.
The results of the monitoring conducted in December 2011 have made it clear that, despite many violations that were discovered, children’s rights are protected better in children’s homes in a number of aspects. The monitoring, certainly, revealed a number of problematic issues which are reflected in detail in the present report. The report gives corresponding recommendations, so that the quality of the protection of the rights of beneficiaries in child care institutions is brought fully in line with both local and international legislation.
The report analyzes the process of the reform of child welfare as of January 2012. The monitoring was carried out in parallel with the process of deinstitutionalization that is under way in the framework of the reform, which enabled the group to assess children’s condition in child care institutions, as well as to observe the transition process – transfer of children from large to small, family-type children’s homes. On the basis of observation of the aforementioned process, the monitoring group carried out a thorough analysis of the condition children’s rights and identified not only results, but also procedural shortcomings. At the same time, it should be noted that, unlike the past year, the monitoring groups faced no obstacles from the administration or agencies during the monitoring, which should be assessed positively.
The monitoring revealed the following types of systemic and individual violations both in large and small, family-type children’s homes:
Serious facts of ill-treatment of children, physical and emotional violence, and neglect. In a concrete case, it became necessary to immediately disengage the violator and possible victim from each other;
Use of different methods of punishment of children by the staff of child care institutions: beating with a switch, hitting with a bottle, forcing to stand in the corner, taking away new clothes, shaking, forcing to perform physical labor with the aim of punishment, etc.;
Exerting pressure and emotional violence on children due to their communicating with advocates of rights in large children’s homes;
Degrading treatment of children devoid of parental care in public schools and, in a number of cases, use of corporal punishment against them: hitting with a stick, a back of a chair, or a switch; knocking on the head with a ring; pulling on the hear, etc.;
Expulsion of children with serious forms of behavioral disorders and possible psychic disorders from care institutions without providing them with adequate medical and social assistance, which is due to the care institutions’ inability to manage the children’s condition; the monitoring group is still unaware of the present condition and whereabouts of several such beneficiaries;
Violation of security norms in large children’s homes: a child who was left without supervision cut his own finger with an axe;
Several hundreds of children devoid of parental care who are left without the state’s control; despite the state’s legal obligation to take care of these children, no state agency possessed information about them as of October 2011;
Begging in the street and other types of anti-social behavior by children placed in large children’s homes, which the responsible agencies are not able to manage;
Acceleration and undue preparation of the process of deinstitutionalization which has resulted in psychological traumatization of deinstitutionalized children and complication of the adaptation process in institutions of alternative care;
Children’s reintegration in an unwelcome environment where adequate living conditions had not been provided;
Unsuitable living conditions for children’s development in small family-type children’s homes: unrepaired and damp rooms, cold, damaged furniture;
Unorganized medical documents and shortcomings with the provision of children with adequate medical service.
It should be noted that the report also analyzes the condition of children’s homes that remain beyond the state control. It has become known to the Special Preventive Group that the Georgian Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church has established three shelters which house up to 300 children who are devoid of parental care; in fact, no state structure carries out monitoring of the condition of the rights of children in the aforementioned child care institutions; the Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Affairs does not have any information about these residential institutions which do not receive state funding and about their beneficiaries, and it does not carry out any supervision over the compatibility of the services provided for the beneficiaries of these institutions to child care standards.
After the monitoring that was carried out in the previous reporting period, the Public Defender of Georgia addressed the relevant structures with 58 recommendations. It should be noted that the relevant agencies fulfilled a certain part of the Public Defender’s recommendations fully or partially, which, in the Public Defender’s assessment, is a positive trend.
The Public Defender hopes that this year, as in the previous years, the state structures which are legally obliged to protect the rights of children devoid of parental care and to create dignified living conditions for them will again familiarize themselves with the present report attentively and take his recommendations into account.