16 minors will be relocated from Ninotsminda orphanage suspected of child abuse
Sixteen minors will be relocated from Ninotsminda orphanage in which is now being investigated for child abuse. Six minors have already expressed their desire to leave the institution and social workers who have finally been allowed to visit Georgian Patriarchate’s orphanage, are working on helping ten other children to leave, Georgia‘s State Agency for Victims of Human Trafficking reports.
“Social workers and health officials are currently visiting Ninotsminda boarding school, and, under the ongoing investigation, the agency’s psychologists are also involved”, the agency said in a statement.
Among the six children who have left the orphanage is a child who told Imedi TV that he was physically abused by a teacher three days ago, says the head of the state guardianship agency Meri Maglaperidze.
“Such statements are important, we took the children away, I don’t want them to be identified. Of course, an investigation has also been launched into this incident. Now specialists are working with children”, Maglaperidze said.
Maglaperidze added that the last report of violence in the boarding house was sent to the agency 10 days ago when a student complained about psychological abuse by the teacher, which happened three years ago:
“This child was taken away from the orphanage earlier, I don’t know if the teacher he told us about is still working in the orphanage. The Ministry of Internal Affairs has also recorded his complaint”.
Maglaperidze said that children who wanted to leave the boarding school are aged 10-16, and the official reason that they cited for wanting to leave the orphanage was the desire to move closer to the capital.
Bishop of Shalta Spiridon, rector of the boarding school in the city of Ninotsminda, who had previously ordered not to let human rights defenders and social workers into the boarding school, also made a statement.
The bishop says he does not trust the media because they provoke priests and are tendentious in their work.
“A slanderous campaign was launched against this orphanage, against these children. In fact, the real purpose of this is to discredit the church. We saw that some TV channels covered it biasedly and, therefore, we completely lost confidence in them. How can I trust journalists who slander holiness and provoke priests?”, the bishop said.
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Information about possible facts of psychological and physical violence against the pupils of the boarding school is actively discussed in the Georgian media. At the same time, employees of the Ombudsman’s Office of Georgia, who are responsible for monitoring any closed institution, have been unsuccessfully trying to get into the orphanage but were always stopped by the local staff who acted on the orders of the rector of the boarding school, Bishop Spiridon.
The high-ranking priest himself explained his refusal as follows:
“These people are officially demanding the legalization of same-sex marriages. Personally, I believe that such people should not be allowed into orphanages or any family in general”, said Bishop Spiridon of Shalta in his video message.
Over the past five years, the Georgian Interior Ministry has launched four investigations into alleged cases of sexual and physical abuse of minors in Ninotsminda boarding school, the prosecutor’s office reported after the official request from the Ombudswoman Nino Lomjaria,
After that, the Ministry of Internal Affairs launched another investigation of violence against minors under Article 126-1 of the Georgian Criminal Code.
As of today, there is virtually no NGO or political group left in Georgia that has not reacted to the news about the boarding school in Ninotsminda. Protests demanding the state to protect the children of the boarding house have become regular and nine activists were detained yesterday, during the rally in Tbilisi. The civil sector is asking the authorities to take immediate action and ensure that the Ombudsman’s monitoring team is allowed to enter the boarding house. On top of that, the country’s largest opposition party United National Movement directly called on the authorities to immediately take adequate measures.