Public Defender’s Office Responds to Alleged Offences Committed by Children Living and Working on Streets

The Public Defender’s Office of Georgia echoes the information spread on the social network about alleged offences committed by children living and/or working on the streets. The footage also shows how children run across the road to escape from the law enforcement officers, which poses a threat to their lives and health, as well as to the lives and health of others on the streets - drivers, passengers or pedestrians.

The daily life of hundreds of children in Georgia is a harsh reality, which is called living and working on the streets. The circumstances making children live and work on the street are diverse and related to poverty, homelessness, violence, neglect and other factors. Living and working on the street endangers children's lives and full development. They are particularly vulnerable to violence, trafficking and other crimes. Therefore, their timely identification and protection is crucial.

In this regard, the development of the 2023-2026 strategy by the Ministry of Justice of Georgia for the protection of children living and/or working on the streets from all kinds of violence, including trafficking, is welcome. However, the number of shelters, day care centers and specialists working with homeless children is still substantially insufficient in the country. In addition, there are no additional necessary mechanisms to positively manage the behavior of children living, working or begging on the streets or to prevent them from returning to the street. Services focused on the empowerment of children and their families are scarce.

It should also be emphasized that the employees of the law-enforcement agencies have inadequate awareness, knowledge, and limited skills to respond to the above-mentioned cases in an effective, child-friendly, timely and coordinated manner. It is problematic for them to immediately check the circumstances of alleged violations of law and to ensure appropriate legal response, or to coordinate with other agencies.

Therefore, in order to protect children from this harsh reality, through coordinated work between agencies, the State should:

  • plan and implement specific preventive measures in a timely manner, including in terms of crime prevention;
  • introduce additional services focused on the rehabilitation and resocialization of children living, working or begging on the streets, which will contribute to the positive management of difficult and/or antisocial behavior of children and prevent them from returning to the street.

The Public Defender’s Office of Georgia expresses its full readiness to have close cooperation with all relevant agencies and submit additional recommendations to them in order to address issues related to homeless children and improve relevant mechanisms.

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