Seimas approves children’s rights protection reform

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The new wording of the Fundamentals of Protection of the Rights of the Child was approved with 100 votes in support and a single abstention vote from MP Aušra Maldeikienė. The new law is scheduled to take effect in July of 2018.

The reform will bring children’s rights protection branches from the supervision of municipalities to an office under the Social Security and Labor. A general scheme has been envisaged for institutions to follow upon receipt of a report about a suspected violation of a child’s rights.

The law stipulates that parents or responsible adults should make sure that children under the age of six should not be left without the supervision of persons under the age of 14 without objective necessity.

The law will put people working with children under the obligation of reporting any violation of a child’s rights, establishing levels of threat a child is faced with and stipulating respective actions of services. The new legislation stipulates principles and procedures of case management and operations of mobile teams intended for work with families.

Under the law, territorial children’s rights protection units will have to temporarily remove a child from an unsafe environment immediately upon establishing a threat to his safety, health or life. On a case-to-case basis, specialists will have to decide whether the child’s interests can be protected in the family by providing relevant services, i.e., social services or psychological assistance.

The reform was initiated after the outbreak of violence in Kėdainiai, central Lithuania, that ended in death of a four-year-old boy earlier this year. The boy’s mother and stepfather stand manslaughter charges. Immediately after the incident, Lithuania’s parliament adopted amendments, banning any type of physical punishment, defining forms of violence against children, including negligence.

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