Ombudsman: The Ministry failed to annul the work order issued to centers for social work to remove “children in street situations” from their parents

Photo: NGO Atina's Archive


Ombudsman: The Ministry failed to annul the work order issued to centers for social work to remove “children in street situations” from their parents

The Protector of Citizens’ Office announced today that the Ministry of Labor refused to act upon the recommendation and annul the work order issued to all centers for social work in Serbia, which obliges them to remove children who are living and working on the streets from their parents or guardians, and initiate court proceedings to deprive them of parental rights.

The Ombudsman made a statement citing he found in late February that, by issuing the work order of May 21, 2018, the competent Ministry "acted in direct contradiction to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, significantly hindering the realization of children's rights in Serbia, and inducing centers for social work to commit illegal conduct.”

“However, in the response submitted at the beginning of June, the competent Ministry denies identified omissions in work, and points out that the work order was aimed to ‘intensify activities of the social and family legal protection systems in response to 'children in street situations', i.e. to violence and abuse of children who ‘live and work on the streets’ and who are begging, washing windshields, collecting secondary raw materials from waste bins, selling flowers late at night, etc.”, the statement said.

It is estimated that, through the disputed work order, Ministry of Labor, Employment, Social and Veteran Affairs "placed focus on intensifying activities of the system, while it should actually be on protecting the best interests of the child, identifying and eliminating causes of this phenomenon, which is what the system should do."

"Automatic removal of children is not the solution; the key question is who is the organizer of begging and child exploitation, and what circumstances led to children being in street situations. The question is whether that is human trafficking, or a necessity of survival. Activities of the system must be directed toward identifying and eliminating the causes, not the consequences", stated the Protector of Citizens, Zoran Pašalić.

He added that it is necessary to resolve the issue of identifying organizers of begging, stating that it represents an abuse of children and violation of their rights.

"The issue of 'children in street situations' cannot be viewed solely as an issue of the Ministry of Labor, and that is why the Protector of Citizens will continue to monitor the work of the Ministry of the Interior as well. The most important thing is for the Ministry of the Interior to take all actions to determine who is organizing the begging, and to prosecute perpetrators whenever possible”, the Ombudsman stated.

The original text can be found via the following link: