Tech & Rights

Czech Children Struggle to Claim Their Rights

Children in the Czech Republic lack an effective complaint mechanism to protect their rights, and the problem is greatest in institutional care centers.

by The League of Human Rights
Czech children lack effective complaint mechanism to protect their rights. Photo: Ben Sutherland - Flickr/CC content

An effective monitoring and complaint mechanism for Czech children is still missing. Twenty-four years since the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Czech Republic does not fulfill its obligation to ensure an effective complaint mechanism is available to them.

The situation is most acute among children placed in institutional care. Current mechanisms are, according to NGOs, set inappropriately, and therefore not being used by the children themselves.

According to the NGOs, the legal status and protection of children in institutional care should be strengthened, for example by instituting a children's ombudsman. Peter Guran, a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, underlined that ensuring the creation of a specialized, independent monitoring and appeal body for children is an international obligation of the Czech Republic.

A lawyer from the Czech League of Human Rights explained the impact of the current system, which almost does not allow children to lodge a complaint effectively:

"At first glance, it seems that the complaints mechanism for children exists. It is based on the presumption that the children will turn to the relevant authorities themselves. However, this is largely a misconception, especially among children in institutional care, either because of their age, dependence on the institution, or lack of confidence in the institution. Additionally, the protection of complaining children is not ensured. Even the tools to solve problems, available under the monitoring and control mechanisms, are rather limited. The existing complaint mechanisms simply do not meet the key requirements, such as accessibility, affordability and efficiency. "

Michal Dord of the NGO Seconds After revealed troubling details about the inspection practices by the bodies in charge of monitoring children rights:

"In some facilities, the Czech school inspection team has not visited for 16 years. The situation varies greatly throughout the country, but the average frequency of visits is truly alarming—usually around 10 to 13 years. Twenty percent of the institutions have never had an inspection report issued. Even the current visits are more of a formal nature and not directed towards children's rights. Additionally, heads of other educational institutions who are already inherently in a conflict of interest happen to be present during the inspection visits."

NGO representatives agreed on the need to strengthen the legal status and protection of children in institutional care, particularly through the establishment of a children's ombudsman.

A representative of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport did not attend any of the constructive discussions on children’s rights monitoring, despite being invited.

"So far it seems to us that one of the main obstacles in improving the situation is the unwillingness of the Ministry of Education to participate in finding a solution," said Kamila Holoubkova from the Czech League of Human Rights.

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