Kazakh Parliament holds conference on mapping strategic links for equity-focused child protection
ASTANA, Kazakhstan, 1 June 2012: The Mazhilis (the lower chamber) of Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan (RK) held an international conference ‘For Better Protection of Kazakhstan’s Children in Law and Practice’. The conference was devoted to the International Child Protection Day as well as to the 20th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s membership of the United Nations.
The aim of the Conference was to discuss the key bottlenecks and barriers preventing vulnerable children from benefiting fully from the economic and social development of Kazakhstan; to review the achievements in the child protection reform and map out further strategic steps providing cost-effective and efficient care solutions for children from the most vulnerable and marginalised groups; and to initiate a legislative process to strengthen the existing child protection legal framework in the context of the on-going reform in Kazakhstan.
Members of Parliament, key ministries, the Agency of Statistics of the RK, as well as representatives of the European Union’s Delegation, the Norwegian Embassy in Kazakhstan, UNICEF, representatives of Governments of some of the European countries and international experts on child rights protection participated in the conference.
The conference reviewed disparities between the regions on different child well-being indicators; the results of the Multi-Indicator Cluster Survey 2010-2011 in Kazakhstan, and the experience and progress of European countries in applying integrated approach to addressing child issues by central and local executive bodies.
While noting Kazakhstan’s significant progress in protecting the rights of children, UNICEF raised concern over the regional and income disparities in child well-being in the country and their impact on children’s health.
“Like many other countries experiencing rapid social and economic development, Kazakhstan is now facing tougher remaining challenges and newly emerging issues. For example, the infant mortality rate and the malnutrition rate among the poorest 20 per cent of the population are 2.5 times and 5 times higher respectively than among the 20 per cent richest population in Kazakhstan, and there is still high rate of suicide among teenagers” UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan Jun Kukita told the conference.
Dariga Nazarbayeva, Chair of the Social and Cultural Development Committee of the Mazhilis of Parliament paid particular attention to the issue of social orphanhood, child health, social support to vulnerable families, protection of children from violence and exploitation, quality education and promoting inclusive society for children with special needs and the issue of high fragmentation of child protection system.
The participants discussed how efficient and comprehensive child protection mechanisms may improve care for children deprived of parental care, children with disabilities, children who have fallen victim to violence, exploitation and human trafficking. The conference also reviewed ways of transforming institutions and introducing new services, referral systems and results-based management in solving child issues.
As a result of the conference, taking into account the conference’s recommendations, MPs suggested considering updating the legislation to improve child health, situation of children with special needs, juvenile justice, support to families with many children, while government representative suggested embedding in legislation the reporting to law-enforcement any violence perpetrated on children, increasing responsibility of state officials for not ensuring child rights on the local level.