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Wednesday, 27. February 2013. 09:32

Meeting Mr. Vukčević – Mr. Perks

Head of the Delegation of the Parliament of Montenegro to PACE, Mr. Zoran Vukčević, met today with Mr. Benjamin Perks, Head of the UNICEF Office to Montenegro, at his request. Ms. Ana Zec, UNICEF Programme Coordinator, attended the meeting as well

The topic of the meeting was the Council of Europe campaign to stop sexual violence against children known by the name “One in Five”.

MP Vukčević informed Mr. Perks on the basic information on the Campaign “One in Five”, citing that Montenegro had joined the campaign last year and that the National Team for participation of Montenegro in the Campaign had been formed. He pointed out that one of the highly important segments of protection of children is protecting them from sexual abuse and violation, as well as informing them, their parents and their guardians on all the problems in this area and mechanisms for prevention of sexual abuse of children. The data that one in five children is a victim of sexual abuse and violation in Europe is alarming, thus numerous activities need to be undertaken, both in regard to prevention of this occurrence and resolving the issue. There is even more alarm due to the fact that only 10% of the total number of cases of sexual abuse of children are processed.

The most common problems that the competent bodies encounter in practice are the following: insufficient awareness of wider public and even the professional staff, on the existence of this occurrence, lack of professional knowledge and skills, as well as lack of connections and cooperation between the institutions. In order to resolve these problems in a proper manner, it is necessary to act preventively, via family education, and education in schools, raising public awareness on the issue. At the legislative level, via amendments and supplements to the law, it should be made that the cases are processed, while, at the institutional level, it is necessary to undertake measures in order to strengthen social services that should be a support for children - victims of all types of violence in the process of their rehabilitation and resocialisation.

Head of the UNICEF Office to Montenegro, Mr. Benjamin Perks, said that UNICEF had a very nice and constructive cooperation with the Parliament of Montenegro, especially with the Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms, and all with the aim of improving the position of children and protection of their rights, and he expressed readiness to continue that cooperation in the following period, in accordance with the five year UNICEF Working Programme, adopted the previous year. He stated that UNICEF had made two publications: Study on Child Poverty, in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and Children in Montenegro – 2011 Census Results, in collaboration with the Government of Montenegro and MONSTAT. He pointed out that they had finished the study on child disabilities, and he announced the drafting of the study on position of children belonging to RAE population, by April 2013. He pointed out the significance of the new approach within the reform of system of social and child protection where the accent is on the shift of residence of children from institutional to alternative residence, in their own or foster families. In his view, these activities should be implemented parallel to the “One in Five” campaign.

Mr. Benjamin Perks also suggested actual cooperation, stating that UNICEF is prepared, for the needs of implementation of the campaign “One in Five”, to do a research on the topic “Knowledge, attitudes and practices on the phenomenon of the violence against children in Montenegro”, which would serve as a starting point for undertaking of further activities by the competent state bodies, in order to prevent and combat the issue of violence against children. After the gathered data, the competent bodies should be able, depending on the results of the research and actual problems, to undertake clear and precise activities, and after a certain time period to sum up the results in order to learn how much progress had been achieved in this very delicate area.

Mr. Benjamin Perks stated that in the beginning, in the countries of Western Europe, there were also small numbers of reported cases of sexual violence against children, but along with raising public awareness, development of legislative and institutional mechanisms in the country, the number of reported cases of violence was also raised. He evaluated as useful the fact that UNICEF had the opportunity to share with Montenegro the good practice examples of the EU countries. He pointed out that Montenegro’s progress in the area of the rights of the child is evident, which is shown by the data that the number of children with disabilities that attend school had increased by 400% in the previous several years, according to the data of Deputy Secretary General for the EU Enlargement Policy, which had been evaluated as a great progress, at the recent meeting in Brussels, when it had been stressed that the child rights are a litmus test for the accession of the country to the EU.

Ms. Ana Zec clarified that the Draft Questionnaire with the questions by certain areas of violence against children would be submitted to the Delegation of the Parliament of Montenegro to PACE during the following two weeks, so they can give their suggestions, after which a one month research would be implemented, and its results could be expected by the end of April 2013.

Head of the Delegation of the Parliament of Montenegro to PACE, Mr. Zoran Vukčević, MD, expressed pleasure over the offered suggestions by Head of Representatives of UNICEF for Montenegro and accepted the initiative for actual cooperation in implementing the themed research, in order to determine starting values and learn where Montenegro stands, so it could act through competent institutions. He offered his gratitude for the support and concluded that this research would be beneficial to everyone. He suggested publicly presenting the results of the research, which has only one goal: to resolve the issue. It is necessary to admit the problem, see what its causes are, prepare measures for combating it, but also combating its consequences. Within those activities, it would be possible to launch the initiative to create institutional conditions and to provide maximum professional rehabilitation and resocialisation, which cannot be provided in ordinary hospitals, for children who were the victims of violence and went through physical and mental torture. All the previous activities would lead to implementation of one such idea in the following period. He promised to provide input when the Draft Questionnaire is submitted to the Delegation of the Parliament of Montenegro. He expressed the desire to present the results of the research via a joint performance with UNICEF in the “One in Five” campaign, at the meeting of the Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms, and also in the plenum of the Parliament. Presenting the results in the Parliament, as the most significant institution in the function of protection of citizens, would contribute to promotion of the results, and therefore raising awareness on the issue, and the competent bodies would have an incentive for undertaking the necessary measures.

The participants of the meeting expressed pleasure over the meeting held today and readiness for the implementation of both the actual and future projects aimed at protection and promotion of rights of the child, in collaboration of UNICEF and the Parliament of Montenegro.

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