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MPs Praise Children's Advocate Project, Wish for Institutional Framework

22.05.2013 12:40
Category: work and news

Ljubljana, 22 May (STA) - MPs were united on Wednesday in their praise of the "Advocate - the Voice of a Child" project, which was presented by Human Rights Ombudsman Vlasta Nussdorfer, agreeing that a proper institutional framework should be secured for it when possible.

Nussdorfer said that a children's rights advocate, presently only a pilot project with the Ombudsman's office, should become an independent institution. However, since the country is undergoing tough times, it should continue at least in its present form.

The goal of the project, running since 2006, is to provide children involved in different procedures, for instance in a the divorce of the parents, with a voice, somebody who stands by their side, the ombudsman said.

She pointed to police data showing almost 5,000 children being the victims of different kinds of offences each year. In 2010, almost 1,000 were victims of family violence for instance.

The project's network already includes 88 advocates and nine coordinators, while almost 250 children have been secured an advocate so far. If there were no problems with securing the consent of parents, the advocates were appointed within a week.

Echoing the view of most MPs, Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Anja Kopač Mrak expressed regret that an independent institution cannot be secured at this point. She however promised to strive for a continuation of the project and inclusion of the concept in the legislation.

Eva Irgl of the Democrats (SDS) meanwhile presented a report of the parliamentary Credentials and Privileges Commission on the project, which also calls for a special act that would provide for an institutional and independent framework. Until this is secured, the project in its present form should continue, the commission believes.

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