GENEVA/TBILISI (19 April 2016) – UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, has ended an eight-day visit to Georgia* by calling on the Government to address the root causes and risk factors that lead to the placement of children under care.
“While I welcome the substantial efforts deployed by the authorities over the past ten years to reduce the placement of children in institutions, several concerns remain,” the expert said. Ms. de Boer-Buquicchio stressed the need to ensure that non-State run residential child care institutions also comply with this process of deinstitutionalisation and insisted on the importance of monitoring and regulating such establishments.
“I am also concerned by the lack of long-term planning for the children in care, who, when they reach 18 are forced to leave the institutions. These children face numerous challenges when leaving State care and require long-term support, including psychological counselling, access to housing and social assistance, to be able to reintegrate into the community,” she said.
The Special Rapporteur noted the measures put in place to identify children living and/or working on the street and refer them to support services, such as temporary shelters. “Unfortunately, insufficient attention is given to prevention and long-term solutions for street children,” she pointed out. The expert insisted on the importance of addressing the root causes, by providing support to families in vulnerable situations as well as raising awareness on the rights of these children.
The Independent Expert welcomed the Government’s increased efforts to combat the trafficking in children. She also praised the adoption of the Juvenile Justice Code which incorporates measures to ensure child-sensitive justice. However, the Special Rapporteur urged the authorities to quickly pass the new draft Law on Adoption and Foster Care. “Once adopted, this law will be key in ensuring better protection for children, especially those living and/or working on the street and who are particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, including forced begging and sexual exploitation,” said Ms. de Boer-Buquicchio.
Georgia is one of the few countries that provides international commercial surrogacy arrangements to foreign parents without regulation to protect the rights and best interests of children born through surrogacy and the rights of women acting as surrogates. “It is of the upmost importance to establish clear regulations to avoid protection gaps and abuses, which can lead to the sale of children,” stated the Special Rapporteur.
“The numerous interlocutors that I met during my visit acknowledged the existence of gaps and challenges in relation to the protection of children, but most importantly, they have expressed the willingness to address them,” Ms. de Boer-Buquicchio said.
“Solutions to these problems must be found in consultation with children and young people,” she added. “Despite the difficulties they encounter, the children I met during my visit are full of hope for their future and want to get involved in decisions affecting their lives. As a youth representative told me, ̔We are the force that can change things, otherwise there will be a lost generation’.̛̔”
During her visit to Georgia, from 11 to 18 April, the human rights expert met with high-level representatives of numerous ministries, members of Parliament, representatives of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, of the Public Defender’s Office, local authorities, child rights and protection NGOs, diplomats, the UN Country Team as well as children and young people. She also visited small group homes and shelters as well as an institution for children run by the Church and the IDP settlement of Tserovani.
A final report on the visit will be presented by the Special Rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Council in 2017.
(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement:
Ms. Maud de Boer-Buquicchio was appointed by the Human Rights Council as Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography in May 2014. As a Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organisation and serves in her individual capacity. To learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Children/Pages/ChildrenIndex.aspx
The United Nations human rights experts are part of what it is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
UN Human Rights, Country Page – Georgia: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/GEIndex.aspx
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