European Union External Action

Speech by Head of EU Delegation to the Republic of Kazakhstan Traian Hristea at the Round table on Joint Programme of the European Union and the UNICEF: “System for Justice for Children and Child rights improved” (13 December 2016)

Honourable Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Shakirov

Dear Mr Raiganiev, Secretary of National Commission on Gender, Family and Demography,

Right honourable Members of the Parliament,

Dear UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan, Mr Oksamitniy

Dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

 

I am very pleased to welcome you today at the round table on the results of the Knowledge, Attitude and Practice survey on Justice for Children and Violence against children, conducted by the European Union – UNICEF Joint Programme “System for Justice for Children and Child rights improved."

 

Let me briefly recall that our three years Joint Programme with budget of EUR 2 million of EU funding and EUR 0.4 million from UNICEF started two and a-half-years ago, at a time when the Kazakh Government committed itself to a complex and large scale reform of the criminal justice system.

 

The Programme has established excellent relations with all the state authorities that play an important role in the justice for children system in Kazakhstan, including the Parliament, the Supreme Court, the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Health and Social Development,  the Ombudsman,  the Academy of Public Administration (Institute of Justice), the Youth Research Centre of the Ministry of Education and Science, the Oblast Akimats, the Republican Collegium of Advocates and other relevant institutions, including Civil Society Organisations.

 

The main achievements of our joint Programme at present are focused on contributions to the drafting of key laws such as the Law on Probation and the Law on optimizing the work of organizations, responsible for protecting children’s rights. The Joint Programme supported the establishment of the Child Rights Ombudsman in February 2016 and initiated specific services for child victims and witnesses of crime in the East Kazakhstan, Mangystau and Kyzylorda Regions, accepted by the competent local and national authorities. The EU-UNICEF Joint Programme built up the capacity of the specialized legal professionals and governmental institutions through the development of a methodological tool for judiciary on child friendly administration of justice in order to enhance their competence in their daily work.

 

The European Union put special emphasis to the issue of Violence against children and developing Child Friendly Justice Systems.  Most violence against children takes place in the context of families, but some children may be exposed to great risks of violence due to external factors, such as those in situations of migration or seeking international protection, including undocumented or stateless children, children who are neglected, or without appropriate care, children in detention or in residential care, children who go missing or who are abducted by a parent, child victims of trafficking, children with disabilities and children in conflict with the law. 

 

Therefore, the joint EU - UNICEF Action in Kazakhstan conducted a two-component survey called "Violence against children in the Family and Justice for Children", which produced solid evidence-based information on existing knowledge, attitudes and practices in respect of children who are victims and witnesses of violence and crime, as well as children in conflict with the law. The key findings of this survey will be kindly presented today by the UNICEF international consultant, Ms Robin Haar.  

 

I would like to note that the European Union maintains 10 Principles for integrated child protection systems, including principle of support to families in their role as primary caregiver through prevention measures; principle of no child is discriminated against and every child is recognised, respected and protected as a right holder with non-negotiable rights to protection; principle of societies supportive of child's right to freedom from all forms of violence; principle of well-publicised, confidential and accessible reporting mechanisms and aspects of a child protection system.

Children can be involved in judicial proceedings in various settings, either directly as a defendant, victim or witness, or indirectly when judicial decisions may have a considerable impact on their lives such as in divorce or custody proceedings. However, their involvement often lacks a child rights based approach and response from judicial and other actors. Therefore, the European Union carried out an extensive study on children's involvement in civil, administrative and criminal judicial proceedings in all 28 Member States of the EU, in which it collected all available statistics and published policy brief summary reports. The European Union proposed a Directive, establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime. As well, a Directive on special safeguards for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings was adopted in 2016 and the European Union continues to promote the use of the Council of Europe Guidelines on child-friendly justice.

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

I hope today’s presentation of key findings of the survey will give us good understanding of existing problems and allow better address them in further activities that will be implemented under the Joint Programme.

 

I would like to thank the national partners of the Joint Programme and the Experts for making this research possible, and I would like to particularly thank the children and adults in households for taking part in this survey and sharing their views, without which the project cannot fully succeed.

 

Thank you for your attention.