Serbia’s vulnerable children: key findings of the European Commission progress report

Boy in Roma camp, Niš, Serbia

The release of the European Commission’s annual progress report, unveiled last month in Brussels, has been welcomed by ChildPact. The EU’s efforts to monitor the situation of vulnerable children is essential for tackling the key challenges Serbia is facing right now.

The progress report underlines some of the positive changes accomplished this year: the anti-discrimination strategy adopted in June, the new law on mental disability adopted in May and the legislation providing for no statute of limitations for sex offences against children adopted in April this year.

Regarding institutionalized children, the report states that the total number of children in institutional care decreased, however disabled children placed in large scale institutions continue to be a great concern.

“Roma children, who are overrepresented in the state care system, are at higher risk of living in poverty, of leaving school early, of being victims of domestic violence and of being placed into care. This is particularly the case for those children living in Roma settlements.”, says the same report.

These examples show the necessity to further develop services needed to protect children from violence, especially violence among children and young people.

“Cross-sector coordination to detect, refer and respond to cases of violence against children exists only in less than 20% of municipalities. Alternative sanctions for juvenile offenders have yet to be developed”.

ChildPact acknowledges the important steps taken in 2013 and calls on the Serbian government to continue reforms aimed at protecting vulnerable children and at increasing their welfare.