Public Defender’s Statement on International Children's Day

June 1 is International Children's Day. This date reminds the world community that all States have an obligation to take into account the best interests of each child, to protect their life and health and to provide conditions for their education, development and decent life.

This year, June 1 is celebrated differently all over the world.

The risks of child poverty, abuse and neglect have increased under the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Access to education is problematic, often due to the lack of access to the Internet and computer. In addition, the quarantine and isolation have become additional hindrances that negatively affect the psychological condition of children.[1]

The pandemic has made the situation of vulnerable groups of children worse. Juveniles with disabilities, or those in poverty, state care, religious boarding schools or on the street should be provided with an effective support system by the State in accordance with their needs and risks.

The Public Defender of Georgia is studying children's rights during the state of emergency and considers the following important:

  • The Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia, as well as the Ministry of IDPs from the Occupied Territories of Georgia, Labour, Health and Social Affairs should ensure that children are constnatly provided with information in a clear and visible manner. Information should include important recommendations and preventive measures in the fight against the virus;
  • Special attention should be paid to the continuity of education of children living in the regions, including in highlands, their access to the Internet and computer;
  • In accordance with the increased risks of domestic violence, the responsible agencies should strengthen preventive measures and ensure timely and effective coordination.

At the same time, it is important for every citizen to understand the dangers and risks that minors face. The safety and health of children during the pandemic largely depends on the civic self-awareness of parents and caregivers and their compliance with the recommendations issued by medical professionals.

[1] A number of international institutions, including the United Nations and the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children, the full member of which is the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia, refer to the unfortunate impacts of the novel coronavirus on children, especially on vulnerable groups.

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