UN Special Envoy Concerned About Children’s Rights in Georgia

TBILISI – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography Maud de Boer-Buquicchio assessed her week-long visit to Georgia at a press conference on Monday and called on the Georgian government to work more towards shoring up at-risk children’s rights in the country.

The Dutch-born de Boer-Buquicchio emphasized that despite the government’s effort to better protect children from abuse, violence and exploitation significant problems remain for involving children living and working on the streets and the integration of children who live in special child care institutions into their families and communities.

“I am concerned by the lack of long-term planning for those children that are forced to leave their state-run shelters when they turn 18. These children face numerous challenges when leaving childcare centers. They require long-term support, including psychological counseling, access to affordable housing and social aide that helps them reintegrate into the community,” de Boer-Buquicchio said.

She sharply criticized the government’s methods for identifying homeless children and referring them to support services, including temporary shelters.

“Unfortunately, insufficient attention is given to prevention and long-term solutions for street children,” she said, adding that the state must raise the public’s awareness on children’s rights.

De Boer-Buquicchio welcomed the government’s increased efforts to combat child trafficking and praised the adoption of the Juvenile Justice Code, which incorporates measures that ensures child-protection laws.

She was also quick to urge the authorities to quickly pass a new draft law on adoption and foster care.

During her April 11- 18 visit, de Boer-Buquicchio traveled to Tbilisi, Rustavi and Batumi, meeting with both national and local government officials as well as members of the Public Defender’s Office, child protection NGOs and youth representatives.

She also visited a small group homes and shelters as well as an institution for children run by the Georgian Orthodox Church and the Tserovani settlement for internally displaced people.

De Boer-Buquicchio expressed deep regret for not having been able to evaluate the situation in Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions.

A comprehensive report of de Boer-Buquicchio’s visit will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2017.

By Tamar Svanidze
Edited by Nicholas Waller

Photo: Onnik James Krikorian

20 April 2016 22:38