The public monitoring group over special educational institutions under the Ministry of Education and Science (MES) found out that the system of child protection in Armenia has not been fully established yet, and it lacks resources, resulting in shortcomings in protection of the rights of a child in the country. Particularly, children who face difficult life situation are in need of special attention.
In April-July 2012 the monitoring group visited, in addition to 8 special schools under the authority of MES, also special institutions under the authority of regional municipalities and the Armenian Ministry of Labour and Social Issues, including 7 boarding schools of care and 4 orphanages (in total, 19 institutions across the state).
The results of the monitoring were presented on 3 July.
“It is clear to everybody that the best place for a child is the family, if it is possible. However, there can be exceptions, instances when it is not possible. In such a case, an atmosphere close to that of a family should be ensured, where children can receive proper care and upbringing,” stated the Chairman of the monitoring group Artak Kirakosyan.
The Head of the monitoring group Varouzhan Sedrakyan presented the identified issues and added that shortcomings of everyday nature are at times solved by the heads of the institutions quickly in response to the remarks of the monitoring group, but there are also systemic issues which continue remaining unaddressed for years.
One of these issues is to ensure the rights of a child to health protection.
“Children at the special institutions who need special care, rehabilitation and treatment, do not receive it. There are no special rooms for rehabilitation with necessary equipment and specialists who would work with children. Only the school for children with locomotor problems has such capacity, all other schools miss it, which negatively affects the health of children,” emphasized Sedrakyan
Anna Haroutyunyan of “Save the Children Armenia” office noted that violence against children is a serious issue in Armenia, and the risk to be exposed to violence is even twice greater in closed institutions, where children are isolated from the society, and it is more difficult to identify the issue.
According to Anna Haroutyunyan, some facts revealed in course of monitoring lead to a conclusion that children in closed institutions are subjected to violence, including beating, labeling, insulting, threatening of deprivation of food or isolation in a special room.
The monitoring group also revealed violations of children's rights in the areas of education and development, well-being and security, and sustaining contacts with parents.
www.hra.am will provide more detailed information about the issues mentioned in the report in the coming publications.