755 cases in total; according to the Public Defender, the rate of violence against children still remains high
Children living and working in the street, lack of basic education, child mortality, violence against children, poverty and inadequate living conditions – these constitute only a small part of the issues described in the report by the Public Defender on the “legal condition of children’s rights”- reads the title of the document reflecting data from 2016.
The report suggests a high number of incidents involving violence against children, with 755 cases in 2016. According to the statistics, sexual intercourse with a minor or other acts of a sexual nature (Article 140 of the Criminal Code) turned out to be the most frequent.
In 2016, 250 cases were investigated. In 189 of them, the aggrieved party was granted the status of victim. In addition, there were cases of physical abuse of juveniles, psychological violence, abandonment, internet bullying and other crimes.
A small number of social workers and psychologists is a major hindrance in the elimination of violence against children. Only 11 psychologists are currently employed in the Social Service Agency.
As in the previous years, the mortality rate of children over the age of five is still high. In 2016, 511 children aged 0 and 1 died, as well as 93 minors between the ages of 1 to 5.
The Public Defender points out to the existing issues in health care, water, nutrition, regulation, sanitation and hygiene in children’s institutions. He says that the current situation in this field doesn’t meet international standards and contradicts the basic principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
He also noted that cases regarding the abandonment of juveniles are still frequent. According to the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, in 2016, 3 556 pupils dropped out from the basic education stage (9th school grade) for various reasons, and 6 449 following the completion of the basic stage, of which 165 discontinued their education after being employed.
The legal state of children living and working in the street are particularly grave. Despite the steps taken by the state, access to education, health care services, as well as their implementation in the society, still remains an issue.
“The attitude and the level of awareness of the Patrol Police for children living and working in the street is another problem. Often they aren’t informed as to where to apply in the case of finding such children, and don’t have the relevant information on the services available within the sub-program for providing shelter to homeless children. As per the information of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), in 2016 patrol police officers didn’t undergo retraining courses and trainings regarding children living and working in the street,” said the report.
During the reporting period, the situation in Juvenile Justice was important as well. The Public Defender’s Office has examined eight criminal cases involving minors obtained from the Supreme Court of Georgia.
The research has revealed certain shortcomings in the procedure of detentions, comprehensive review of investigative action protocols, timely preparation of individual assessment reports, etc.