Opening the public debate on the Draft Law on Children’s Rights and Children’s Ombudsman in the Serbian Assembly, the Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia and Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child Maja Gojkovic said that Serbia is on the way to get an independent institution for the protection of children’s rights and round up the concept of children’s rights.
Gojkovic said that today’s public debate in Belgrade, to be followed by one in Novi Sad, Kragujevac, Novi Pazar and Nis, is a clear sign that Serbia intends to get a law that will ensure the full protection of children, their development and growing up.
The Assembly Speaker said that the law will not merely follow the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights in the Republic of Serbia, it will set the groundwork for the advancement and promotion of children’s rights in the country, despite the fact that its significant results in the area have already been recognized.
“Passing a comprehensive law of this kind is essential because it creates the mechanisms that will definitely give the children the opportunity to really exercise their rights. This is a clear indicator of the resolve to create an environment where all the children in Serbia can exercise their rights”, said Gojkovic.
Gojkovic said that Serbia has made real progress in promoting children’s rights and the creation of the legislative framework for the protection of children is the keystone of the further advancement and promotion of children’s rights, which is the objective of the Draft Law on Children’s Rights and Children’s Ombudsman.
Gojkovic said that Serbia has been continuously improving children’s rights by passed an impressive number of legal regulations and strategic plans, among them ones concerning the rights of children in the prevention of violence and discrimination, improvement of education and healthcare and in the protection of vulnerable categories.
Gojkovic said that this law should help improve the position of children, eliminate the deficiencies and loopholes in areas not fully defined by the existing legislation, all in the best interest of children, because we owe that much to very child in the country.
The idea of establishing a children’s ombudsman as an independent state body to protect, monitor, support and promote children’s rights aims to make the concept of children’s rights even more visible in the public.
“Establishing the institution of children’s ombudsman as an independent control mechanism would make it possible for children to move through the legal system, processes and affairs, and life as a whole, in a simple way, in a language they can understand. In that way we will teach our children how to protect their rights”, said Gojkovic.
Gojkovic said that the first children’s ombudsman was established in Norway in1981, which prompted many other countries to follow suit and lead to all the countries in the region to now have a children’s ombudsman.
“I believe it is time for our country to get a children’s ombudsman too”, said Gojkovic, adding that caring for children today, means caring for the future of the society.
The attending were also addressed by Minister without portfolio and President of the Council for the Rights of the Child Prof. Dr Slavica Djukic Dejanovic who emphasized the Government’s dedication to the promotion and protection of children’s rights. Children should be healthy and educated, take pleasure in playing and growing up, she said adding that this year is the 30th anniversary of Serbia’s ratification of the most important document for the protection of children’s rights – the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Djukic Dejanovic said that in 2017 the Council for the Rights of the Child launched the initiative to pass a comprehensive law on children’s rights and ombudsman in order to secure uniform standards for children’s best interests.
Dr Stana Bozovic, State Secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs which had, with the help of experts in the field, prepared the draft law, said that the protection of children’s rights is one of the Serbian Government’s priorities. She said that this would provide Serbia with a comprehensive legislative framework for the protection of children’s rights, up to international standards and adjusted to the needs of our society. Bozovic said that the basic principle of operation of the children’s ombudsman would be to promote, advance and protect children’s rights both among adults and children.
The Draft Law on Children’s Rights and Children’s Ombudsman was presented by Dragan Vulevic, special advisor to the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs and member of the expert drafting team.