“Ljubovic” centre must organize its work in accordance with international human rights standards
UNICEF is calling on the Government of Montenegro to take urgent measures in order to cease the placement of various vulnerable groups of children and young people in the “Ljubovic” Centre for Children and Youth
PODGORICA, 18 SEPTEMBER 2023 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is calling on the Government of Montenegro to take urgent measures in order to cease the placement of various vulnerable groups of children and young people in the “Ljubovic” Centre for Children and Youth, such as children who are victims of violence and exploitation (primarily referring to begging and human trafficking), children who are not criminally liable due to their age, children at risk of committing criminal offences, and children found on the streets, as this is not in line with international child rights protection standards.
As a country that has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Trafficking in Human Beings, Montenegro has committed to respecting human rights and international safety standards for the protection of all children. This includes the obligation to provide appropriate and secure accommodation for children at risk and child victims of human trafficking, which excludes any contact between the victim and the perpetrator of the crime, as well as specialized support services.
The “Ljubovic” Centre for Children and Youth should be an institution that provides specialized support to children who are subject to non-institutional criminal sanctions by the courts. Such support should focus on the reintegration and socialization of children.
All other vulnerable categories of children, such as children with behavioural problems and children who are victims of violence and exploitation, must be physically separated in accordance with international standards. These children must be provided with special support programmes.
In line with its mandate, UNICEF stands ready to support the Government of Montenegro in taking urgent actions on this issue and ensuring full respect for the rights of all children in Montenegro.
In accordance with international standards for the protection of child rights, UNICEF has been providing ongoing support to the Government of Montenegro in reforming the juvenile justice system. As a result of these efforts, supported by the EU, a special juvenile justice law has been adopted, and a specialization has been introduced for representatives of the justice system and police to work with children and youth in conflict with the law.
Furthermore, the quality of work at the “Ljubovic” Centre for Children and Youth has been improved through the development of standards, work programmes, and the continuing education of staff to work with children and youth in conflict with the law, all in accordance with international standards.
UNICEF collaborates with governments in more than 190 countries and territories across the world to support every child in exercising their right to a safe childhood.