The role of the Ombudsperson for protection of children’s rights

07.04.2016 13:17

 

 

The United Nations ChildrenFund (UNICEF) and the National Ombudsperson in Bulgaria are collaborating on boosting the capacity of the institution to conduct independent child rights monitoring and promotion

 

Sofia, 7 April, 2016 – Today the National Assembly of Bulgaria was the host of a round table “The role of the Ombudsperson for protection of children’s rights”, organized by the National Ombudsperson, Ms. Maya Manolova. Among the participants were the Chairperson of the National Assembly, Ms. TzeTzka Tzacheva; the Norwegian Children’s Ombudsperson, Ms. Anne Lindboe; the Deputy Ministers of Labor and Social Policies, and of Justice – Mr. Lazar Lazarov and Ms. Virginia Micheva-Ruseva; the Chairperson of the State Agency for Child Pritection, Ms. Eva Zhecheva; UNICEF Representative in Bulgaria, Ms. Maria Jesus Conde; parliamentarians, experts, NGOs.

Child rights are a top priority for the institution of the Ombudsperson in Bulgaria in 2016.Our efforts are targeting children living in residential care; children in conflict with the law; children left behind; children with disabilities. For me, a major challenge is child poverty, and high rates of school drop-out – which is also due to material deprivation. Therefore, the state must break the vicious cycle and support biological parent to take care of their children – because every child has the right to live in a caring and supportive family environment, instead of living in any type of formal care”. – said the National Ombudsperson of Bulgaria, Ms. Maya Manolova. 

The round table is part of a project to boost the capacity of the institution of the National Ombudsperson in Bulgaria to implement independent child rights monitoring. The project is taking place in partnership between the Ombudsperson of Bulgaria, UNICEF in Bulgaria and the National Committee for UNICEF in Norway. 

Children have no political power, and are often forgotten when political decisions are made. That is why it is the role of the Ombudsperson to bring an explicit children’s focus to the government which often has adult focus – and to help politicians make good decisions in the best interest of children.” – said Ms. Anne Lindboe, Norwegian Children’s Ombudsperson.

Norway was the first country in the world which established the institution of the Children’s Ombudsman – back in 1981. Ever since, it has reaffirmed itself as a role-model for independent monitoring and promotion of child rights, and a good platform for child participation.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in its General Comment No 2 (2002) encourages the states to establish and support independent institutions for the promotion and monitoring of the implementation of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. In a context of limited resources where there is an independent national human rights institution with a specific mandate on children’s right (integrated model), the Committee recommends: to provide adequate political, financial and human support; to ensure nationwide coverage; to ensure access to a child friendly complaints mechanism; to enhance the independence.” – said Ms Maria Jesus Conde, UNICEF Representative in Bulgaria.

Prior to the round table, there was an official meeting between the National Ombudsperson of Bulgaria, the Norwegian Children’s Ombudsperson, UNICEF in Bulgaria and the Chairperson of the National Assembly, Ms Tzetzka Tzacheva.

VIDEO INTERVIEWS:

Watch the short interviews with Bulgaria’s National Ombudsperson, Ms. Maya Manolova – on the state of child rights in Bulgaria:

With the Norwegian Children’s Ombudsperson, Ms. Anne Lindboe – on child participation as means to influence policies in the best interest of children: 

Additional Information:
In January 2016, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Ombudswoman of the Republic of Bulgaria signed a Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation. The main purpose of the partnership is to protect children’s rights with a focus on: ensuring children’s access to justice defined as the ability to obtain fair, timely and effective legal redress for violations of rights pursuant to national and international legal acts and standards, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; developing and strengthening the capacity of the Ombudswoman’s administration to exercise independent monitoring on how children’s rights are respected in Bulgaria; raising the awareness and sensitizing the Bulgarian public on knowledge, respect and adherence to the rights of children.

About the institution of the Ombudswoman:      
The Ombudsman/Ombudswoman is someone who upholds people’s rights and protects society’s interests. He/she is an independent constitutional body elected by the National Assembly with a term of five years. The Ombudsman/ombudswoman is independent in his/her activities and is subjected only to the Constitution, the laws and international contracts that have been ratified and have come into force in the Republic of Bulgaria.

About UNICEF:    
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:   
Jacklin Tzocheva, Communication Officer, UNICEF Bulgaria  
Tel: 02/9696208, E-mail: jtzocheva@unicef.org 

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