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The papers in the proceedings of the Annual Conference in Zagreb and a Thematic Meeting of the Children's Rights Ombudspersons' Network in South and Eastern Europe CRONSEE, held in 2015, represent the topics "The Rights of the Child – between the Interests of the Parents and the Obligations of the State" and "The Third Optional Protocol – the Role of the Ombudsman for Children". The selection of the first topic was largely influenced by current debates regarding specific issues such as compulsory vaccination of children, introduction of sex education and civic education into regular school curriculum, views on corporal punishment and other issues. The second topic, dedicated to the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, concerning the possibility of filing complaints to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, is in a way further discussion on the issue of the best interest of the child. The proceedings also contain the original texts of the General comment No. 14 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on the right of the child to have his or her best interests taken as a primary consideration and the Third Optional Protocol and the conclusions of the Annual Conference and the Thematic Meeting of the CRONSEE network.
Achievements and Challenges
Protection of children involved with the justice system also implies the protection of children’s rights in administrative and any other proceedings where decisions will be made which will affect children’s rights and interests. A child may appear before a court or other administrative body as an offender, a witness or a victim of a felony or a misdemeanor offense, or may be otherwise involved in proceedings where decisions will be made directly affecting their lives, such as, for example, a decision to remove a child from the family home or a parent’s decision to separate and divorce. Regardless of the nature of the child’s participation in the proceedings the system needs to show full understanding and respects for the rights of the child and acknowledge children’s special vulnerability.
The proceedings entitled “Protection of Rights and Interests of Children with Behavioral Problems” is a result of three expert meetings organized by the Office of the Children’s Ombudsperson held 2008 in Rijeka, 2010 in Osijek and 2011 in Zagreb. It comprises papers by experts and scientists trained in different disciplines, such as: social pedagogues, psychologists, social workers, pedagogues, physicians and lawyers. They are coming from a variety of systems and institutions: educational system, social welfare system, health care, police, justice system, local communities, universities and the Office of Children’s Ombudsperson. Papers published in the proceedings cover various aspects of the protection of children with behavioral problems, starting from expert and practical research-based guidelines to elaborating on the effectiveness of certain state-run systems dealing with such aspects.
Proceedings of the expert panel meeting entitled “The Rights of Children of Incarcerated Parents” was first published in 2009 and it represents the expected continuation of the efforts of the Children’s Ombudsperson’s Office to protect the rights of children of incarcerated parents, following the first public debate on this subject held in 2008. Here is the English version of the Proceedings. A key task of the Ombudsperson is to point out the significance of protecting children of incarcerated parents and encouraging those who participate in their care – or make decisions directly or indirectly affecting children – to take the proper approach, show special sensitivity, and protect such children from further trauma and stigmatization.
The papers published in this collection are reports from the expert meetings held and from the Annual CRONSEE Conference held in Dubroivnik in 2009, attended by ombudspersons or representatives of ombudsperson’s offices, members of the European Network of Ombudspersons’ for Children (ENOC), and invited international and domestic experts. The papers express the independent standpoints of experts who, within the framework of their professional competence and interests, are involved in the protection of children and their rights, and offer consideration and proposals of procedures and approaches which would contribute to a higher level of protection of children and the realisation of their rights. They are a reflection of the differing approaches and viewpoints of these experts presented at several expert meetings, and therefore their form is not completely unified.