Public Defender’s Statement on Court Ruling relating to Ninotsminda Orphanage

The Public Defender of Georgia is responding to the ruling of the Tbilisi City Court on the lawsuit filed by the Partnership for Human Rights, a non-governmental organization, relating to the removal of minors from the Ninotsminda orphanage and considers the immediate enforcement of the court ruling necessary.

The ruling, once again, clearly indicates the real risk and danger that exist in the institution in terms of the protection of children’s rights and requires timely and coordinated action by the state agencies. The Public Defender notes that the situation in the orphanage is not in line with the interests of minors or the relevant standards; the situation is dangerous in terms of the protection of children from violence, their full development, socialization and preparation for an independent life.

It is essential that the court assesses the general situation in the orphanage as hazardous and the ruling should not be perceived as implying that the danger exists only in relation to children with disabilities. In accordance with Georgian legislation, the Partnership for Human Rights represents an entity with the status of a special plaintiff, which has the right to use the status of a plaintiff only in relation to persons with disabilities. Accordingly, the court was not able to make a decision in relation to all the beneficiaries living in the orphanage.

It is necessary to take into account that the state supervision of the institution had not been actually carried out for 10 months, while after resumption it has not been complete or smooth, which indicates obvious shortcomings in the assessment of individual needs of the minors. Consequently, there is a reasonable suspicion that the official statistics on the beneficiaries with disabilities may not correspond to the reality and their number may be much higher. This underscores once again the need of extending the ruling to all the beneficiaries and to remove each of them from the orphanage immediately, in order to assess children in a timely manner and identify their needs.

The Public Defender emphasizes that the process of removing children from the orphanage and their placement in alternative care should be carried out with maximum protection of the safety and interests of the minors, in order to, inter alia, minimize the aggravation of their psycho-emotional condition. Without any delay, a multidisciplinary approach should be used to assess each beneficiary and his or her family. Priority should be given to the return of children to their biological families, which should be supported and strengthened.

The Public Defender once again calls on all relevant state agencies to take coordinated measures to enforce the court decision immediately, with maximum protection of the interests and safety of children.

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