Taking Care: New commission will make children’s issues a state matter

A new regulation has gone into effect this month that makes protection of children a state obligation.

By the resolution of Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan, the Statute of the National Commission for Protection of Children was adopted on October 28th, providing – for the first time at the government level – a body to oversee issues regarding the rights and welfare of minors.

The Commission’s functions include coordination of works for implementation of the national program of children rights protection for 2004-2015, implementation of annual programs for children rights protection and other improvements in the field.

(Previously the task of tending to children’s rights, social issues and all the problems related to the sphere of under-aged, homeless and children in difficult situations, was taken on by various ministries and NGOs.)

The Commission will include experts in social issues, healthcare, domestic affairs, education, justice and relevant ministries and structures. The group will get close support also from the Armenian offices of the United Nations and the European Union Food Security Program.

Republic of Armenia Minister of Labor and Social Issues Aghvan Vardanyan is president of the Commission.

“The activities of the Commission will make the solution of problems aimed at children issues more effective,” says Lala Ghazaryan, secretary of the Commission, and head of the Family, Women and Children Issues Department at the RA Ministry of Labor and Social Issues. “From this time on children’s issues will get more complete attention.”

According to the Statute the main activities of the Commission will be aimed at the analysis of problems arising during the protection of rights and interests of children and development of suggestions. Special works will be done for the solution of social issues of children who have appeared in difficult conditions.

“Before the creation of the Commission the ministries and the proper organizations worked separately, which was not that productive,” said Nelli Duryan, head of the Juvenile Department at the Central Agency for Criminal Intelligence at the RA Police by the RA government. “From now on the works will be more coordinated.”

Within the framework of the program groups comprised of seven staff positions – lawyer, psychologist and other specialists, will be created in each province of the republic. The experts will get re-qualification courses beforehand within the framework of the program, after which they will work on children issues and rights.

Besides personal meetings and practical work they will also do analytical work that will later be included into the general data.

During the sessions convened every three months the work will be summarized, analyses will be studied and the problems will be specified.

“This program will partially solve also the issue of unloading children institutions – orphanages,” says Vardanyan. “Gradually the problem of locating orphans into families will be solved.”

The UNICEF Armenian office director Sheldon Yett believes the implementation of the program will improve the policy aimed at the solution of children problems in Armenia.

“Compared to other countries of the region Armenia has done significant amount of work in this sphere,” says Yett. “However this does not mean everything is good. The program still has a long way to go.”