Amendments to the Family Law provide better protection of child's rights

Round table discussion on amendments to the Family Law

UNICEF Montenegro
Panelists during the Round table discussion on amendments to the Family Law
UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2015

15 September 2015

PODGORICA, 14 September 2015 - Round table discussion on amendments to the Family Law, organized by the Ministry of Justice and UNICEF Montenegro, emphasized the importance of aligning the Family law, as one of the most important piece of legislation that defines child rights in the country, with the relevant international standards in the field of human rights. .

"We have offered three solutions. One of them is to introduce a support person to a child. And this means every kind of support - psychological, social, as well as legal - through the Institute of Collision Guardian. When interests of parents and child are confronted, it is necessary to establish legal protection of children. We are trying in every way to affirm and protect the personality and the dignity of every child," the Minister of Justice Zoran Pazin said.

According to the UNICEF Representative in Montenegro, Benjamin Perks, all children should have equal access to justice, as this is an integral component of the democratic society that fully respects, protects and fulfils human rights of children.

"Proposed amendments also include prohibition of corporal punishment, which violates the rights of the child to dignity, physical integrity, as well as the right to non-discrimination and equal protection under the law. The scientific evidence is now overwhelming and shows that all forms of violence against children have a life-lasting impact on their well-being," Perks said.

Data on the prevalence of violent discipline of children is concerning, because this practice undermines the child’s self-confidence and the relationship between the child and the parents who is punishing the child in this way.

UNICEF Montenegro Representative Benjamin Perks talking about the importance of ensuring full compliance of the Family law with international standards
UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2015
UNICEF Montenegro Representative Benjamin Perks talking about the importance of ensuring full compliance of the Family law with international standards

According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey on the rights of women and children in Montenegro published in 2013, 69 percent of children aged 1-14 were exposed to at least one form of psychological or physical punishment by their parents or other adults in the household during the month preceding the survey.

"We strive, through the norm as well, to send the message that the child is an autonomous human being with human rights which belong to him or her, including the right to get all the necessary information about family matters. This, of course, means that those around the child have a duty to provide him/her with this information," UNICEF consultant Nevena Petrusic pointed out.

Ministry of Justice and UNICEF have mobilized resources and engaged international experts to ensure that optimal assistance is provided to the Working Group, with the aim of ensuring full compliance of the law with international standards.

Proposed amendments provide better guarantees that the child right to adequate protection will be fulfilled and that children’s voices will be heard and taken into consideration throughout the entire judicial process. Also, they will ensure that there are better observance of any violation of child rights.

Mirjana Lakovic-Draskovic, General Director of the Directorate for Justice in the Ministry of Justice, explained that one of the numerous novelties in the proposed law is the introduction of the definition of the child as specified in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

"Novelties have also been introduced in the section dedicated to the rights of children, such as the right to life and development in a healthy and safe environment; the right to the best possible living conditions for the full physical, psychological and emotional development; the right for the child's personality and individuality to be respected by others," she added. 

By implementing these amendments, Montenegro will become closer to a child-friendly judicial system in which every child in Montenegro will know that his/her opinion matters.

UNICEF is committed to providing all necessary support to help Montenegro to ensure adequate protection of children rights who participate in court proceedings and in that way help increasing trust in judiciary system and system institutions.