Visit by Slovakian NGOs
Recently, the Icelandic Human Rights Centre received at its facilities two ladies from Slovakian NGOs, in connection with their work under EEA Grants. Below is an account of their visit as well as information from them on the status of child protection in Slovakia.
In June 2015 our organisation had an opportunity to host two ladies from Slovakia Mrs Dana Rusinova from Children of Slovakia Foundation and Mrs Zuzana Konradova from Coalition for Children Slovakia. They participated in workshop that took place on 9 June in Icelandic Human Rights Center facilities. The following organisations presented their mission and activities: Centre for Gender Equality in Iceland; Women’s Counseling in Iceland; Icelandic Human Rights Centre; Women in Iceland; and The Centre for Gender Equality Iceland. The workshop was also attended by portuguese colleagues from Associacao Fernao Mendes Pinto Portugal.
The Slovak visitors had also shared information about what has been going on related to children and their rights in Slovakia. In this respect we learned that Slovak legislation is increasingly more reflective of the obligations of Slovakia arising under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, in practice Slovakia is significantly behind and does not use the full potential of the existing legislation.
In particular, Slovakia fails to meet its obligations under the Convention most significantly for Roma children. Many of these children live in segregated neighbourhoods, in poor housing, hygiene, and alimentation conditions. As a result of poverty and social exclusion, parents are negligent when it comes to their children’s health care and education.
Disabled children are another group of children whose rights are violated in practice, mainly because there is no early-intervention and support provided to families. In addition, the schools are neither interested in nor prepared to integrate these children into the regular education system.
The progress Slovakia has made in the last few years in the area of violence against children. The remaining challenge, however, is the creation of an effective system for its detection and early intervention at the local level.
More and more children in Slovakia are stricken by poverty. As a result, their rights and needs are not fulfilled, primarily in the areas of access to adequate living conditions and education, and also to leisure time opportunities.
A recent positive step for Slovakia was adoption of legislation creating the office of the Commissioner for Children. The Commissioner’s office should start operations before the end of this year and has the potential to cooperate closely with NGOs.