Croatia: State institutions let the children down, Ombudsman says

Croatia: State institutions let the children down, Ombudsman says

Croatian Parliament, which is expected to complete its first session on Friday, will discuss a report by Children’s Ombudsman Helenca Pirnat Dragičević for 2019 on Thursday.

Pirnat Dragičević notes in her report that last year institutions let the children down when it comes to protecting them against violence. A dramatic increase in domestic violence cases occurred compared to 2018 and she called for urgent and effective measures to protect children and warned that some children lost their lives or were in deadly danger due to parents’ negligence.

One child died when her father left her in the car on a hot day and Pirnat Dragičević recalled the horrific event of the father who threw his children from the first-floor balcony on the island of Pag. There were three cases of violations of the right to life involving six children and grave criminal acts to the detriment of children such as murder, attempted murder, infanticide, self-wounding, and so on.

Last year, Pirnat Dragičević says, “is marked by a sudden increase in child fatalities” in car accidents. Eighteen children were killed in car accidents, 203 were gravely injured and 1,100 incurred minor injuries. She recalled too that children were faced with disruptions to their education which culminated in the long-standing teachers’ strike.

The Ombudsman’s Office received almost 10 per cent more complaints last year than in 2018. In addition to the increased number of complaints, the report notes the concerning emergence of cruel and sickening events of violence against children.

The report also notes that almost 2,200 children were not able to meet with their other parent or were allowed to do so for much less time than stipulated by the courts often due to manipulation by the parent the child is living with.

The ombudsman also warned about the need to protect children from poverty.

Almost every fifth child is at risk of poverty. Child poverty is characterised not only by lack of money but also by them not exercising their right to health care, participate in sports and cultural activities, and it is also linked to social exclusion.

Pirnat Dragičević warned about the problem of violence against children and peer violence, reports of psychological violence that some children suffer for years, violence on social networks, Viber, WhatsApp, and online violence that can turn into violence live.

Last year we were also faced with the deficiencies in the system for protecting children from sexual offences, she said, highlighting too lenient sanctions and an inefficient system for monitoring child molesters./ibna