Source: The Network of Civil Society Organizations for Children (Mods) from Serbia
At the meeting held on 3rd February 2017, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child adopted the “concluding observations” on the combined second and third periodic reports regarding the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the Government of the Republic of Serbia. The adoption of this document was preceded by the session of the Committee dedicated to the state of Children’s rights in Serbia held on 24 January in Geneva. A Government Delegation from Serbia also attended the session.
In its observations, The Committee commented on the progress achieved since the last reporting period, but also noted that some recommendations from 2008 had not been fully implemented. With this regard, the Committee called on state authorities to continue working on the harmonization of legislation with the Convention’s provisions and principles, which would include the adoption of a comprehensive legal instrument devoted to children’s rights and the adoption of the legal definition of the term “child”, in compliance with the Article 1 of the Convention.
The main observations and recommendations of the Committee regarding the strategic and institutional framework of the state policy in the field of children’s rights were about the National Plan of Action for Children and the Child’s Rights Council. The Committee recommended that the Government adopt a new policy framework, which will replace the National Plan of Action for Children, expired in 2015, and provide adequate resources for its implementation. As for the Council for Child’s Rights, the Committee noted that it mainly represents an advisory body that meets only occasionally. Therefore, the Committee proposed strengthening the role of the Council, enabling it to grow into a coordinating body with adequate authority and necessary resources for the harmonisation of cross-sectoral cooperation related to the implementation of the Convention.
The Committee document contains a number of observations and recommendations about certain specific issues. The Committee recommended hastening the adoption of the Law on the Ombudsman for the Rights of the Child as well as ensuring that this body has the authority to deal with individual complaints of children. In addition, the Committee recommended that the physical punishment of children be expressly prohibited by law and the exceptions that allow marriage under the age of 18 years removed from the Family Law.
The Committee expressed concern that children with disabilities continue to be significantly over-represented in residential care and recommend that placement of children under the age of 3 years in residential care be urgently reduced. The Committee also urged implementing the provisions outlined in the Social Welfare Law that limits the number of children per residential institution to 50, as well as improving the system of protection for children in institutional and alternative care against inhumane treatment.
Certain recommendations of the Committee are also related to the social benefits. The Committee recommends providing greater support for children living below the poverty line, single-parent families, families with four or more children, and families with children with disabilities, as well as ensuring that the financial, social assistance and child allowance provide for the real costs ofdecent living of the children.
The Committee Document can be found here.