Photo from Radio Tavisupleba
The Coalition for Equality responds to the facts of continued violation of the Rights of the Child at the NNLE Javakheti Ninotsminda St. Nino Boarding House for Orphans, Vulnerable Children and Children without Caretaker that belongs to the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate. It is extremely alarming that the activities of the Public Defender of Georgia have been obstructed once again and the state is no longer fulfilling the requirements of the interim measures of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
The Coalition for Equality calls upon the state to take immediate actions to ensure the protection of rights of the children at the boarding house; presently this implies enabling the independent monitoring body with appropriate authority to conduct effective monitoring and, in the long term, reintegrating children into biological families and / or into a form of care close to the family environment.
On May 19, representatives of the Public Defender of Georgia paid a repeat visit to the Ninotsminda Children’s Boarding School; however, once again they were not allowed to conduct monitoring, despite the interim measures set by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The representatives of the institution refused to communicate and cited the orders from the head of the institution as the reason.
It should be noted that this is not the first case when in the Ninotsminda boarding house the Public Defender is not given the opportunity to exercise the authority given by law. We wish to remind you, that on April 20, 2021, a similar incident took place, when, by the order of the head of the institution the representatives of the Public Defender were not allowed on the territory of the institution. The case of obstruction of effective monitoring has also occurred in 2018, when during the monitoring the representatives of the Public Defender were not given the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with for children.
The need for external monitoring is particularly urgent in view of the violations reflected in the Public Defender’s 2015 and 2018 reports, citing grave forms of violations against children, failing to meet the individual needs of children, and inability to exercise a range of powers guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The refusal of the administration of the Ninotsminda boarding house to allow the Public Defender of Georgia to enter the premises of the institution and to evaluate the protection of the rights of the child in the institution violates the interim measures set by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, issued by the Committee in May, 2021 on the basis of a petition from the Partnership for Human Rights, member of the Coalition for Equality. In its decision, the Committee refers to the direct responsibility on the part of the State to immediately facilitate the monitoring of the rights of the child at the Ninotsminda Boarding School by the state monitoring bodies with relevant authority. The UN applies such temporary measures only when it considers that there is a risk of irreparable harm to children. Additionally, the decision adopted by the Committee on the Rights of the Child under Article 6 of the Additional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child also creates the State obligation to immediately implement it.
In order to prevent the violations of the rights of the children living at the Ninotsminda boarding house and to provide proper response to the existing violations, the Coalition for Equality calls on the state to:
Immediately facilitate the uninterrupted visit of the Public Defender’s representatives to the Ninotsminda boarding house, during which the monitoring body shall have the opportunity to have individual conversations with the children and conduct effective monitoring;
Begin individual assessment of the children for the purposes of their reintegration into the biological families, and when this is not possible, move them in the forms of care approximated to the family environment;
Develop the plan of deinstitutionalization plan for large institutions, which shall define the terms and forms of removing the children from both licensed and non-licensed institutions.