H.E. Mr. Peter M
a g v a s i
First of all, I wish to congratulate you on your election as President of the 27th Special Session of the General Assembly on Children. Slovakia has aligned itself with the statement delivered by the representative of Spain on behalf of the European Union. Nevertheless, it is my pleasure and honor to make a statement on the national level and inform you about the efforts of the Slovak Republic in the area considered a priority nowadays: in child protection.
Please, allow me to express my gratitude and high appreciation for the excellent work of the Preparatory Committee on the final document - A world fit for children. I would like to assure you, Mr. President, that Slovakia will continue to provide its support to the successful conclusion of this important Special Session.
Slovakia attaches great importance to the protection and promotion of the rights of the child. The country has devoted a continuous attention to the area of children rights protection and has been adopting necessary measures especially in social, economic and educational areas, as well as, in housing and health care. We have ratified major international instruments in this field. After the dissolution of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, Slovakia succeeded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In spite of the progress achieved, much remains to be done by us, just like by other countries and international community, for the welfare of children.
Under the Constitution of the Slovak Republic marriage, parenthood and family are protected by law. Special protection of children and juveniles is guaranteed. The children born in and out of wedlock enjoy equal rights. Care and upbringing of children are the parents' rights, children have the right to parental care and upbringing. Restriction of parents' rights and separation of infants from their parents against the will of the parents are subject to court ruling in compliance with law. Parents taking care of their children are entitled to the state's assistance.
The Act on social assistance adopted in 1998 has amended social assistance, right to provision of basic living conditions, social prevention, as well as, individual forms of treatment of material and social need, namely social counseling, social and legal protection, social services, social assistance benefit and social services, compensation cash allowances and cash allowance for nursing.
The Slovak Committee for the Rights of the Child was established in Slovakia in the year 2000. It is composed of representatives of state administration central authorities, local government and non-governmental organizations dealing with children rights protection. The Committee has currently 16 members. It is chaired by the state secretary of the Ministry of Labor, Social affairs and Family, and the position of a vice-chair is held by the representative of the Slovak Committee for UNICEF.
The Committee for the Rights of the Child presents findings on and conclusions to specific problems in the area of children rights compliance in the Slovak Republic and proposes measures to solve these problems. Further, it submits proposals on prevention programs and policies dealing with the status of children in society. Special attention is focused mainly on protecting children from physical and emotional abuse, drug dependence and other sociopathological phenomena, on children in institutional care, children in substitute family care and children in different threatening situations.
Last year Slovakia became the States Party to the Hague Convention of 1993 on Protection of Children and Cooperation in respect of Intercountry Adoption, Hague Convention of 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, and European Convention of 1980 on Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions Concerning Custody of Children and on Restoration of Custody of Children.
Slovakia was ready to sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and the Optional' Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography already during the UN General Assembly Session scheduled for September 2001. Unfortunately, tragic events of 11 September, when our hearts were with the people of the United States, made this impossible. Both Optional Protocols were thus signed later, in November and their ratification is being prepared.
Extensive work is currently being done in the area of legislation where the civil, family, criminal and social security laws are undergoing substantive changes. The best interest of the child is a decisive criterion in drafting new legislation, as well as, in designing policies and special programs in the field of children rights. Drafting of the act on social and legal protection and on social prevention may be considered as particularly important. In the area of substitute family care an extensive transformation of children homes is currently taking place gradually changing large boarding children homes into family-like children homes creating thus conditions for familial forms of care for the children of whom parents either cannot or do not want to take care.
Preparation of the National Action Plan for children rights is an important task Slovakia has to accomplish by June this year. The work on the Action Plan is coordinated by the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Family and is carried out by specialists from the state authorities as well as from non-governmental organizations.
Several non-governmental organizations are active in the area of child protection and assistance in the Slovak Republic, activities of which are subsidized also by the state. The state further subsidizes special projects of non-governmental organizations aiming at helping children as well as whole families who have occurred in difficult life situation, disabled children, children with special needs, children in institutional care, etc.
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to conclude by assuring you of permanent effort of Slovakia to be faithful to the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Thank you for your attention.