The Centre for Reasearch and Social Development IDEAS, the Crisis Policy and Response Centre (CRPC) and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) founded The Coalition for the Protection of Refugee and Migrant Children from Abuse and Neglect in order to ensure safety of children from this population staying on the territory of the Republic of Serbia. The concept of respect of dignity of all persons, and safeguarding of psychological and physical integrity of each individual is thus asserted.
The Coalition will, primarily, focus on advancement of systemic identification of children – victims of abuse and neglect and the provision of efficient legal protection. It will also monitor individual cases of abuse and provide support in line with the resources available. Also, the Coalition members will be committed to capacity building of the staff in direct contact with refugee and migrant children for identification of cases of abuse and neglect and response to such situations. Other activities include provision of support to the institutions and civil society organisations to develop prevention parctices adapted to children and to effectively implement the legal framework relevant to the protection of children from abuse and neglect. Special emphasis will be placed on strengthening of children to identify and report abuse and make decisions related to protection and recovery.
Although prohibition of abuse and neglect is an absolute right – one of the rights that are never and in any circumstances subject to restrictions – we face lack of efficient response of state authorities and the civil society organisations in the area of protection of safety of refugee and migrant children. In that context, the role of the Coalition members is to make sure that all the employees in direct contact with the children possess adequate knowledge and skills required to identify child abuse and negligence and adequately react in these situations. All the Coalition members should be familiar with the internal child protection mechanisms, the procedures of abuse and neglect reporting to social welfare centres, public prosecutor’s office and Ombudsman if needed, and be knowledgeable about basic international and national standards of protection of children from abuse and neglect. The members will also contribute to documenting the position of a child and the circumstances of abuse or neglect, cooperate with the relevant authorities, participate in the assessment, development of protection plans and case conference, as well as to ensure that the child is protected after abuse and neglect and not suffering the consequences of such reporting.
In addition to CSOs, the Coalition membership may include other service providers, institutions and state authorities as welll as other stakeholders providing services to refugee and migrant children with the mandate to, inter alia, ensure protection from abuse, torture and neglect.
Recognizing a joint interest and the responsibility of the State to take adequate legal, administrative, social and educational measures towards the protection of children from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, IDEAS, CRPC and DRC call on all the relevant stakeholders to join the Coalition and contribute to each refugee and migrant child staying in the territory of the Republic of Serbia to lead a life in dignity protected from abuse, torture and neglect.
What are abuse, torture and neglect?
Pursuant to The General Protocol on Protection of Children from Abuse and Neglect and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment or Treatment, abuse includes all forms of physical and/or emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent behaviour, as well as commercial or other exploitation resulting, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power. Torture is a particularly severe form of abuse denoting all acts means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed. Torture includes also intimidation of that person or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. Neglect is a failure of service providers to ensure development of a child in all the areas: health, education, emotional development, nourishment, accommodation and safe living conditions, within the reasonably available resources of family or service providers resulting in or highly probably leading to impairment of the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual or social development. This includes also failures to conduct proper supervision and to protect the child from harm in as much as feasible.