Zagreb - Croatia respects directives issued by the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe (CoE) and over the past few years has adopted a series of laws and strategies to protect children. Their implementation however is not up to scratch, a member of the Croatian Parliament Delegation to the CoE Parliamentary Assembly, Igor Kolman, said at a conference on children's rights held in the Croatian Sabor on Tuesday.
He pointed out four CoE objectives aimed at removing all forms of violence against children, protection of vulnerable groups, easy access by children to various systems and services to protect their rights, and the active participation of children in society. Croatia needs to implement these in practice and not just pay lip service, he said. Ahead of adopting a new national action plan aimed at the rights and interests of children, he stressed the importance of children having access to the legal system, equal access to health services, education in a tolerant environment without violence, and special emphasis on civil education about child protection in a new, media saturated environment. It is important to remove all forms of violence against children - sexual abuse, human trafficking, physical punishment, violence in schools, and it is particularly important to work with vulnerable groups - children without parental care, disabled and Roma children who are still exposed to discrimination and segregation in education and health systems, said Kolman.
The head of the European Commission Delegation to Croatia, Paul Vandoren, agreed with Kolman and said that Croatia had shown political will to deal with children's rights, noting that it remained questionable to what extent the adopted strategies were being implemented.
The conference "Policies toward children: European Union, Council of Europe, Croatia" was organised under the auspices of the Croatian government by the Government Ombudsman for Children Mila Jelavic, UNICEF Croatia and the coordination of children's associations. Jelavic said that Croatia had prepared a strategy and plans concerning child protection based on the CoE's Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2012-2015) and EU standards.
Opening the conference, deputy speaker Nenad Stazić stressed the importance of informing children about their rights, restoring the confidence in the institutions of the system and the need for synergetic actions for the child's well-being. (Hina)