Child rights

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Inefficacy of Social Welfare Centres in Protecting the Rights of the Child

The cases of children abandoned by parents and cared by persons who are not their formal guardians testify of the consequences of the lack of an efficient role of social welfare centres in protecting the rights and best interest of a child. Social welfare centres throughout Serbia tend to ignore such situations, i.e. they tolerate the disproportion between legal and factual situation, which results in the deprivation and violation of many rights of the child.

Praxis client, minor M. M, though facing serious health problems, cannot exercise the right to health protection because she does not possess a health booklet. Specifically, after her parents divorced, the custody was awarded to her mother. However, the mother then abandoned her and moved abroad where she got married and gave birth to three children. Despite being born with orthopedic impairments, a girl was deprived of the adequate health care. In order to exercise the right to health protection, M. M. first needs to register permanent residence in Bela Palanka, where she lives. At the moment, her permanent residence is registered in Nis, at the same address as her mother’s. The request for registration of permanent residence or change of permanent residence should be submitted by a minor’s legal representative, parent or guardian, but M. M. does not have either a guardian or a legal representative. In addition to legal protection, the registration of permanent residence would allow her the right to parental and child support and the right to free textbooks.

Since M. M. has no legal capacity and no legal representative, the only way to protect the rights and interest of this minor girl is to conduct the procedure of deprivation of the parental right and appoint a guardian who would represent her in the exercise of rights.

Specifically, the deprivation of the parental right is a remedy by which unconscientious parents are deprived of some or all parental rights and obligations to the child, apart from the obligation of financial support. It refers to the measure of protection of a child from the unconscientious acting of parents, and child abandoning is defined as a harsh violation of the parental duties and obligations, so the legislator has envisaged complete deprivation of the parental rights to the parent who abandoned his/her child. According to the regulations, a parent is deprived of the parental right in the procedure initiated by a special lawsuit, which may be filed by a child, parent, public prosecutor or social welfare centre. With an aim of maximal child rights protection, a legal obligation was established for all citizens, associations, state bodies and institutions to immediately inform the competent public prosecutor or social welfare centre about the identified neglect, abuse or unconscientious exercise of parental rights.

Though not so rare in practice, such cases show how serious the consequences of the lack of active role of institutions in access to the rights for citizens may be. We must not forget that in addition to health, minor M. M. is deprived also of the exercise of other socioeconomic rights, which imply the rights to education, adequate housing, dignified life and also other rights.

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Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action