Significant achievements were made between 2010 and 2012 that promise to improve the protection of girls and boys, particularly in the areas of child care and juvenile justice. For example, in 2011, as a result of long term advocacy by UNICEF, the area of Child Protection was successfully integrated into the broader framework of Kyrgyzstan’s Social Protection system. In the same year, a National Social Protection Development Strategy was elaborated and endorsed by the Prime Minister, which includes a dedicated chapter on child care system reform.
In addition, after a complete revision of the country’s Child Code, a new version was promulgated in August 2012, introducing important changes to the justice for children legal framework. The revision brought the Code into line with international human rights standards, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Until recent years, the justice system in Kyrgyzstan, including that for children, was strictly punitive. UNICEF has been working intensively with national partners at policy level and in pilot areas to promote a restorative approach to juvenile justice that can divert children from the criminal justice system. UNICEF is now supporting the Government to establish a coordination board on the issue. A strategy is also being developed to develop a juvenile probation service.
In the area of child care, the new Child Code creates strong “gatekeeping mechanisms”, helping to prevent children from being separated from their families. A decision to place a child permanently in residential care must now be taken by a court and be used only as a last resort.
As a tool to advance the reform of the child care system, an “Optimisation Plan on the managing and financing of residential institutions 2013-2016” has been developed by the Government with strong assistance from the European Union and UNICEF. UNICEF has also facilitated development of regulations on foster care and social standards, and an assessment of social service needs. In addition, UNICEF provides training at local level for specialists on providing support to vulnerable families. The specialists are now beginning to proactively assist children with disabilities, children in conflict with the law, and child witnesses and victims of violence in their communities.
Addressing the particularly high prevalence of violence in schools, UNICEF continues to invest considerable efforts in its “School without Violence Programme”. This includes surveys of the prevalence of violence in schools; interactive awareness-raising and capacity building activities for children, teachers, social pedagogues, parents and local communities; the establishment of mediation and reconciliation services that involve children; and the creation of mechanisms for reporting violence. The Programme has already been piloted in 20 schools and proven highly successful at raising awareness of school bullying and violence among schoolchildren as well as teachers, social pedagogues and local community members. Apart from reducing violence in schools, it contributes to a broader culture of peace, promoting a transformation of societal norms and values towards respect for diversity, rights, support for dialogue and non-violent means of conflict management and resolution.