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Maia Bănărescu: Results of 2022 and priorities for 2023 concerning observance of children’s rights

In 2022, important measures were taken to ensure better protection of the rights of the child, but many processes only started and the results can be felt the next years only. Ombudsman for Children’s Rights Maia Bănărescu has told IPN that the efforts should be combined in 2023 so as to start to gradually implement the National Development Strategy “Moldova 2030”.

“In 2022, amendments were adopted to the law on social benefits for children and the monthly benefit for looking after children younger than two was raised, either the parents work or not. It is important that the draft law that enables the women to receive both the salary and maternity benefit while on maternity leave and to work was adopted. Evident progress was also made in education, as regards the prevention and combating of bullying. There was agreed the methodology for preventing and combating bullying in schools,” stated Maia Bănărescu.

The Ombudsman for Children’s Rights said that many of the objectives set for 2022 were achieved, while others were included in strategic development programs.

“It goes to the children’s consultative council under the Children’s Ombudsperson, which was created in 2022 and is a functional body. A number of 35 children were chosen by contest to consult the ombudsperson about the children’s rights in the actions of this. It is a form of child participation in the decision-making process. I also managed to broach several important issues to the MPs and expert commissions, namely concerning the law on the right of the child, which is old and no longer meets the international standards. It was decided to create a working group to amend this law or to adopt another law that would meet the standards,” said Maia Bănărescu.

She noted that this year she also managed to attract the MPs’ and public opinion’s attention to the right to health of children in detention and to the educational inclusion of children with disabilities. “The personal assistance service that is not appropriately remunerated and is not promoted was another important issue raised as the children who need assistance suffer as a result,” stated the ombudswoman.

She also said that she proposed implementing a new concept for the prevention of delinquency and violence among the population as part of the National Development Strategy “Moldova 2030”. “We do not have this component in the national legislation, regarding the prevention of violence among minors. The filling of the panels of judges dealing with cases related to children’s rights remains a priority for 2023. We proposed amendments to the Penal Code concerning questioning in special conditions and these were accepted and are to be implemented,” said Maia Bănărescu.

Proposals to the Electoral Code were also formulated, concerning the protection of children from involvement in political activities and the punishment of politicians who use children in campaigning. It is yet important for the children to be able to state their opinion in electoral processes, to be gradually involved in activities that inform about electoral processes so that when they have the right to vote, they are ready to make choices. Proposals cornering the promotion of the child’s image in the media were formulated for the Audiovisual Council.

Next year the authorities should pay increased attention to street children as Moldova does not have an efficient normative framework concerning these children. Among other issues that need to be further addressed are the sexual violence and abuse against children and the introduction of sexual education in the school curriculum. “The right to education needs to be ensured. I refer here to the sanitary-hygienic conditions and medical assistance so that the school is a safe place for the growth and development of the child. The education of parents is also a very important element,” stated Maia Bănărescu.

The Ombudsman for Children’s Rights noted the inclusion of human rights education at all the levels of education, from kindergarten up to university, including in the continuous training of professionals working with and for children, is another priority.

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