Georgia: Coalition for Children and Youth expresses deep concerns about the disrupting system of child protection

Source: Georgian Coalition for Children and Youth

Statement of the Georgian Coalition for Children and Youth regarding the death of 4-year-old Nino

The Coalition for Children and Youth expresses its deep concern about the disrupting system of child protection that resulted in the recent cases of violence against children, and states its position on the systemic problem in the country.

According to media reports, on January 22, a 4-year-old child died as a result of domestic violence. Investigation is underway. Children’s rights organizations estimate that one of the reasons for the tragedy is the poor child protection system, which should be strictly assessed by the public and investigative organizations.

Reportedly, on 6 January 2019, 4-year-old girl with physical injuries inflicted by violence was transferred to hospital. The law enforcers issued a restraining order against the mother prohibiting a contact with a child. However, she still lived with her mother. According to neighbors, they had been hearing the child cry due to domestic violence over the months and they usually called the police or social service workers. There were visible signs of abuse of the child’s body. Besides, we have learned from reliable sources that a couple of years ago, other children have also been victims of violence by their mother, of which Social Service Agency was fully informed. Nevertheless, on January 23, The Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia provided the society with wrong information, as if, there was a favorable environment in the family, and they learned about child abuse only on 6 January 2019. We consider the population is deliberately not provided with significant and full information about the case, which must be open and subject to public criticism.

For over years, child protection system fails to ensure child protection in Georgia. Despite the growing number of notifications about domestic violence, the system often fails to protect children effectively and encourages child abuse by its inactivity. The abuse notifications often remain as statistics only. The problem is the incompetence of different level decision-makers, which in turn leads to a critical shortage of human and financial resources. Child care services do not develop and are on the verge of closure. Parents are not provided with minimal education on positive parenthood and child rights, in fact, there are neither family support and rehabilitation services, no 24-hour hot line for child protection, educational institutions, law enforcers and Social Service Agency fail to cooperate either on individual cases, or on joint initiatives, even the child abuse statistics are different by the agencies, which once again demonstrates the reverse in the field and the disruption of child protection system.

Children and Youth Coalition believes that the incidence of 4-year-old Nino demonstrates inefficiency of state system to prevent child abuse and neglect.

We therefore demand the following:

  • The Chief Prosecutor’s Office shall immediately begin investigation of the case on the fact of possible breach of duties by the professionals involved in the case of this family; besides, in the course of investigation, the authority shall be suspended for all persons involved in the case and / or those who possessed any information on the situation in the family;
  • Radical reforms for the improvement of the child protection system in the shortest possible time shall be planned and implemented by the Government of Georgia and the Parliament of Georgia will plan and implement. Interdisciplinary Commission shall be created from the civil and professional organizations to identify the real problems and to plan the ways to solve them.
  • Provide the public with all the materials collected over the years by law enforcement agencies as well as the Social Service Agency required for the investigation and assessment of the family.