Ministers, Deputy Ministers
Honorable members of the Judiciary in Georgia
Members of the Parliament
Ms. Sopo Kiladze – Chairperson of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee of the Parliament of Georgia
It is a pleasure to be here today in Parliament for a special session dedicated to a discussion of children rights and the realization of the right of the child to access justice, which is an essential prerequisite for the protection and promotion of all rights of children. This meeting today is very timely: first, it was in March this year that the UN committee on the Rights of the Child issued the concluding observations to Georgia’s 4thperiodic report to the Committee on the measures to implement the Convention on the rights of the Child. As we will see shortly, Georgia has made important progress in the realization of children rights. Examples include the adoption of important national legislation enshrining rights of the child including the Juvenile Justice code, and the adoption of the first ever law on early and pre-school education, and equally important institutional and policy measures that are child sensitive. While recognizing the progress made, the committee has also made recommendations on areas of concern and further improvements – inclusive further development of the legislative framework to incorporate provision of the Convention on the Rights of the child and its optional protocols.
This meeting is also very timely because it follows the establishment in January of this year of an inter-disciplinary Working Group to revise civil and administrative legislation under the framework of the Strategy on Reforming the Justice System for Children and its Action Plan and coordinated by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). This is in line with the concluding observations of the Committee on the rights of the Child to incorporate the provisions of the Convention and its optional protocols since civil and administrative areas of the law cover broad spectrum of children`s rights, such as rights to family, alternative care when necessary, right to protection from all forms of violence and worst forms of labor, access to inclusive education, access to high-quality healthcare, and social protection.
This current process reflects a transition from a narrow focus of Juvenile Justice which addressed the rights of children who come into conflict with the law, and children who come in contact with the law as witnesses and victims - to the much broader and internationally adopted definition of Access to Justice for children where access to justice is the prerequisite for all rights of the child.
Towards this, starting in 2016, UNICEF conducted an analysis of national legislation in Georgia to inform key aspects of the reforms. From March this year and up to June the Working Group met to discuss the legal gaps analysis prepared by UNICEF, and additional consultations and validation sessions held with Judges and government agencies. This has been a participatory and highly consultative process built on a strong foundation of evidence and analysis to inform further reforms and national legislation on child rights.
UNICEF takes the opportunity to thank Sopo Kiladze for her leadership in bringing this discussion today to parliament where we will share the information and validate the analysis with the parliamentary committees. UNICEF stands by to support the Government of Georgia to further align national legislation with the provisions of the Conventions and its optional protocols. In so doing UNICEF endorses a process that is based on the analysis of national context, that brings together the main stakeholders, and that is transparent. We look forward to further support the Working Group inclusive a strong engagement by Parliament - to continue working to finalize the analysis, develop detailed recommendations and prepare draft laws in order to harmonize the national legislation with internationally recognized standards on children’s rights.
In conclusion, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Ministry of Justice for the leadership in making the justice system responsive to the rights of the child and for the coordination of the working group taking forward the reforms. As Georgia advances towards its trajectory of EU integration – the partnership with the European Union remains a valued partnership. I thank the EU, the MoJ, Parliament, and all partners as we work together to make Georgia Fit for Children.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.