Gaps in Czechia's protection of children's rights
Conclusions of the 22th DCI Seminar on the CRC Implementation in Czechia,
held on the 8th of March, 2018 in the premises of the Old Town Hall in Prague
Participants of a seminar hosted by Czech section of Defence for Children International, expressed concerns that, after harsh criticism of the gaps in implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, expressed by the UN Committee on Rights of the Child in 2011, neither the governmental strategy “The Right for Childhood” (December 2011) nor the National Implementation Plan were fulfilled. NGOs from the field of the Rights of the Child had not been even consulted by the government in the preparatory process of the above-mentioned papers. By this, more recommendations issued by the abovementioned Committee were neglected, unseen the fact that the next periodic report should be submitted to the Committee by the government in 2018.
The participants welcome the efforts of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MŠMT) to improve the quality of participation of pupils and students, as well as its reform of the financing of schools according to the amount of education (no more to the number of pupils) and to raise salaries of teachers and their status in society.
Based on the debate, they disclosed problematic points in the implementation of the CRC.
The young participants (children and youths below 26 yrs of age) call for a solution to the following problems with their real participation in the life of the society, especially:
a) Youth proposals are postponed again and again, they are not considered as a priority in any negotiations.
b) Youth proposals are not forwarded to higher decision-making bodies.
c) There is an insufficient support of the involvement of children and young people – mentors to be supported who would encourage them and helped them to get involved.
d) Adults often discourage young people telling them that they are not able to succeed – we ask for an obligatory education of all personnel of school facilities on the importance and usefulness of children and youth participation on all levels of public life.
e) Pupils and students should have the right to criticize the methodology of education.
f) It is necessary to educate young people that their voices are useful and that it is not necessary just to receive information passively.
g) Communication with authorities is blocked – civil servants and elected representatives do not consider information and proposals from youths as a priority.
h) Adults do not perceive the importance to put the voices of young people through.
i) A completely absent legislation which would anchor municipal, regional and national children parliaments, to anchor school student parliaments solely is insufficient.
j) Authorities themselves do not know whose responsibility is it to support municipal and regional children and youth parliaments – it is necessary to define a single body for the development and support of youth participation.
k) In some cases, municipal children parliaments are just a populist step of an individual politician – we have to stop such misuse of young people.
l) Participation of young people is to be accepted as a normal part of the public life.
m) It is necessary to establish an ombudsman for children.
All participants agreed unanimously upon the necessity that all public bodies should fulfil the following measures for the systematic implementation of the rights of the child in the Czech Republic:
1. To establish and nominate a permanent independent coordinating and monitoring body for the implementation of the CRC. This body has to be equipped with appropriated powers and competences.
2. To adopt a law on an independent ombudsperson for children, the competences of which will also inhere decision-making processes of municipal and regional authorities.
3. To initiate in mainstream media and in their supervising councils a dialog on the implementation of the rights of the child, including the right of participation in all issues concerning children directly or indirectly.
4. To solve systemic gaps by separating the issues of families and children from other dominating ones (employment policies, schools, sports, etc.). To establish a ministry for family, children and youth, according to good practices from abroad.
5. To initiate a public or parliamentary council or commission for the rights of the child.
6. To adopt a law committing all public bodies to take the best interest of the child into account in all decisions, as well as defining that notion and indicators for its evaluation. More concretely: to implement children mainstreaming and children budgeting, which means to add an obligation to report how the amendment/budgetary provision fits to the best interest of the child.
7. It is necessary to adopt a law on protection and support of children and youth, including youth participation in the life of the society. This concerns particularly municipalities and regions, with an obligatory financial support for leisure-time and children’s associations at all levels.
8. To order obligatory training courses for youth workers on children participation.
9. To open specific grant programmes for both NGOs and public management bodies supporting participation of children and youths from a different cultural environment and/or living in marginal social conditions on all levels, as well as for NGOs the main field of which is participation and the right of the child in general.
10. To include organizations and coalitions advocating and lobbying for the rights of the child as consultants for all legislature amendments which have an impact on the rights of the child. To include the right of children to be consulted on internal regulations and codices of ethics of the facilities concerned.
11. To amend the Civil Code in the sense that corporal punishment on a child can never be considered an appropriate measure of education, even in a family environment.
12. To propose legislative measures for to improve the protection of children, e.g. to set age limits for unaccompanied children in pubs or streets at evening/night times.
13. To implement the right of the child to be heard and to have an own solicitor in all court proceedings, according to the rulings of the Constitutional Court of Justice.
14. To set immediately up a replacing alimentation support for entitled children by the government with the provision that the government would then enforce the obliged parent (who has not paid to the child) to repay the alimentation money to the state.
15. Children must not be taken away from their families for social reasons, siblings may not be separated from each other.
16. To swiftly adopt an Act on Social Housing, stating i.e. that children have a right to live in a decent environment.
17. To enforce advisory and social services at schools and in municipalities, aimed specifically at children in crisis and at prevention measures.
18. To enhance children participation in health care, including their informed consent.