ChildPact participated to the preparatory meeting prior to the EU-Georgia Human Rights Dialogue, organised by the European External Action Service on the 1st of June, in Brussels. The meeting consisted in an open dialogue and exchange of recommendations and observations from the field between the concerned CSO representatives and the EEAS officials.
During the preparatory meeting, ChildPact welcomed the on-going efforts of the Georgian authorities in their endeavour to improving the life conditions for the vulnerable children in the country while emphasising that children still have to go a long run for a decent life as, to begin with, child poverty in Georgia in on the rise, with a level of poverty among children 50 % higher than among the general population. As mandated by the Georgia Coalition for Child and Youth Welfare, reuniting 51 NGOs working and advocating for better child welfare in Georgia, ChildPact raised the following concerns which hinder the advancement of the child protection system in the country.
Firstly, the cross-sector coordination and cooperation mechanisms needed for tackling child issues are not fully developed in Georgia. There are no protocols for coordination between the social, education and health services. There is no functional labour inspection body established to monitor the delivery of social services. There are no detailed guidelines for cross-sector cooperation and there is no clear definition of the roles of the various actors who should be involved in dealing with the child protection cases.
Secondly, tackling child labour is still a concerning gap which needs to be addressed by the Georgian child protection system. The regulatory framework does not define nor assign competent authorities to investigate complaints and referrals of child labor. Therefore, child labour cases remain uninvestigated and undocumented. In terms of services, specific services needed by the victims of child labour can be provided only if the child labor and exploitation cases are recognized and reported as cases of violence (abuse, neglect) against children or if these situations are related to children working in the streets. Consequently, many children experiencing traumatic events are left without any kind of psychological support.
Thirdly, not all child protection services are regulated by quality standards. For instance, there are no specific standards developed for psychological and legal counseling services, for foster care or for early intervention services. Quality standards have been so far adopted only for the 24 hours/residential care centers and for day care services.
Finally, the complaint mechanisms available to vulnerable children are limited to complaint boxes that are standardly required by the care services – for instance, by the 24 residential care centers or by the day care services. However, these complaint boxes are largely unused and do not really serve their purpose.
The official EU-Georgia Human Rights Dialogue will take place in Tbilisi, on the 15th of June and an extraordinary meeting with local CSOs will take place in Tbilisi one day before the Dialogue. In the framework of this important event, EU’s main objective is to inquire about the current state of play of human rights in Georgia, child issues being an important concern to be raised in the dialogue with the Georgian government. Furthermore, because of the newly signed Association Agreement with Georgia, the EU is aiming to hold this Dialogue at a higher standard than ever before.
Read ChildPact’s written contribution here.