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UNICEF Assists Public Defender in Responding to Violation of Children’s Rights

November 6, 2012

Parent of a child, who goes to a kindergarten, asked Human Rights Center– how UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is applied in Georgia. Since other parents might also be concerned with this issue, decided to publish the parent’s question and UNICEF’s reply to her.

Question: “We would like to know how UNICEF reacts when any article of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is breached in Georgia and whether there is any concrete example of violated child’s right which was responded by UNICEF or it participated in the eradication of the problem? I also want to know whether Georgian legislation (criminal or administrative laws) punishes violation of the convention, or if there are any clear regulations to protect convention and child’s rights too?”

Maya Kurtsikidze, Communication Officer at the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Georgia, replied to the question: “We carry out general monitoring of the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child since this convention estimates standards and rules which shall farther be reflected in the national laws. UNICEF cooperates with the parliament of Georgia to harmonize the national law with the Convention and international standards. We also cooperate with the Public Defender’s Office and assist them to intensify their monitoring on children’s rights. We also assist ombudsman’s office to timely respond to concrete facts of children’s rights violation. We also work with media organizations if they breach the convention.

UNICEF does not respond to concrete facts of children’s rights violation. It is not our mandate. A citizen shall apply to the center for child’s rights within Public Defender’s Office or to the court if similar facts occur.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has direct effect and any person can appeal to the court to protect any rights ensured by the Convention. Neither criminal nor administrative code of Georgia contains any provision which can impose responsibility on the violator of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Despite that, Georgian law (both criminal and administrative codes) punishes separate actions which breach the rights guaranteed by the Convention. For example, in accordance to the Article 19 of the Convention, States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence. Consequently, in accordance to the Georgian law, different acts of violence (murder, beating, torture, intimidation, etc), as well as trafficking with children, their involvement in pornography, etc, are punished under criminal law.

As for the general Georgian legislation with regard to children, there are fields where we have good regulations but we have gaps in several fields … The legislation is not bad but we mostly encounter problems in its implementation. Generally, compliance of the national law with international standards is permanent process and it is complicated to evaluate how our legislation conforms to the Convention.”