How will Law on Child Protection be amended?
- By Misheel Lkhasuren -
- Oct 08,2021
Urban overcrowding, stagnant development in rural areas, environmental pollution, nomadic lifestyle of herders, extreme climate, frequent natural disasters, and political, social, and economic instability make it difficult to ensure children’s rights in Mongolia. In concern with this issue, this parliamentary fall session is scheduled to discuss and approve a draft amendment to the Law on Child Protection.
Whether the country can better address the current issues of children’s rights and their protection will be determined by how the law is amended.
LEGAL REFORM NEEDED FOR CHILD PROTECTION
The draft amendment to the Law on Child Protection was developed based on Article 16.11 of the Constitution, Article 19.1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Mongolia acceded in 1990, and Parliamentary Resolution No. 12 of 2021 on “Guidelines for Improving the Legislation of Mongolia until 2024”.
The law established the legal framework of Mongolia’s child protection system at the national, local and primary levels, and legalized the system and regulation of child protection services in many sectors for the first time in 2016. However, there is a need to improve the coordination, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for child protection services, the bill initiators view.
Lawmakers believe that certain changes should be made to the Law on Child Protection in connection with the transfer of social workers from the Ulaanbaatar city administration to the Authority for Family, Child and Youth Development.
Under the current law, there is a no legislation for reporting each case of violence against children to the local family, child and youth development departments and divisions, limiting some children’s rights. In other words, an integrated information delivery system must be established by law.
On the other hand, the implementation of the current law is not effective enough, bill initiators stressed. In particular, since the adoption of the Law on Child Protection and Law on Combating Domestic Violence in 2016, a total of 676 joint teams, 19 temporary shelters and 13 one-stop services have been established at the national level, but violence against children has not decreased.
In Mongolia, child protection services are available for only children affected by domestic violence and in institutionalized forms, such as centralized care and temporary shelters. They are not accessible to vulnerable children who live in remote areas or are not a Mongolian citizen. There is also a lack of support and protection services in a family-like environment.
As of 2020, there are 31 care centers in 21 organizations nationwide, including 26 in Ulaanbaatar, two in Darkhan-Uul Province and one each in Dornod, Orkhon and Uvurkhangai provinces. Of these, three are funded by the state budget, 28 by individuals and international and non-governmental organizations. There are 1,032 orphans under the age of 18 and 37 young people aged above 18 living in these centers.
The number of domestic violence cases increased from an average of 21 cases per day in the first quarter of 2019 to 34 cases per day in the first quarter of 2020. As of March 2020, 545,900 violations were registered, of which 3,131 were investigated as domestic violence and 2,244 cases were resolved, according to the police.
Compared to last year, the total number of violations increased by 15 percent and the number of cases caused by domestic violence jumped by 61.6 percent.
In the last three years, about 58 percent of all abused children were victims of neglect, more than 30 percent were physically and emotionally abused, and about 10 percent were sexually abused, showed statistics. About 80 percent of perpetrators were identified as parents, guardians, grandparents, or siblings of the victims.
In terms of the environment, 69.9 percent of abused children were exposed to violence in a family environment. There has been a steady increase in the number of child-related calls to the 108 Child Helpline over the past three years. From 2017 to 2019, the Child Helpline received 478,953 calls and reports, of which 20.1 percent concerned child protection.
Therefore, in accordance with the Constitution of Mongolia, there is an urgent need to amend the Law on Child Protection and regulate child protection responses more effectively.
AMENDMENTS TO THE LAW
In response to social needs, lawmakers are proposing the following amendments to the law. Not every provision of the bill is likely to get approved and some proposals could be changed by standing committees and other lawmakers.
Within the framework of the right to child protection, a new term for child protection services was added to Article 4 of the law in accordance with international standards. In particular, the draft amendment stipulates that “child protection case management service” means cooperation in establishing contact with children’s family and guardians, identifying the need for services, and providing systematic social, economic, and legal assistance and response in a step-by-step manner to children identified at risk of violence.
A new provision was attached to Article 18 of the law. It states that the Ministry of Justice and Internal Affairs and its agencies are responsible for providing child protection services at the local level, hiring full-time social workers, and providing them with policies, regulations, and management methods. Specifically, Article 18.5 of the bill reflects, “Province and soum khoroos will have full-time social workers in charge of issues concerning children and families. A social worker shall be appointed and dismissed by the head of family, child and youth development department of the affiliated province or district. A citizen, who meets the requirements set forth in the Civil Service Law, can be appointed as social worker in charge of children and families.”
Article 18.6 stipulates that a professional degree, which make social workers eligible to provide services, shall be granted and revoked by the state central administrative body in charge of child and family development.
Article 23 of the law will also be amended to clarify budget allocation, expenditure, calculation of standard costs, methodology and procedures for child protection services. For instance, Article 23.3 states, “The budget designated for child protection services will be spent on child protection case management services offered the state organization in charge of child affairs, a joint team, the Legal Committee for Children’s Rights.” In other words, funds will be spent on one-stop services, temporary shelters, legal assistance, psychological counseling and psychotherapy services, and post-reunification supervision.
In accordance with Article 23.4 of the bill, the government shall approve the methodology and procedures for standard cost of child protection services.
Article 8 on protection of children’s rights in the digital environment was added to Chapter 2 of the law on child protection in the media and cyberspace. In line with this regulation, cross-sectoral structure of service providers, civic responsibilities and child protection in online environment will be created.
Article 8.7 states that the National Council for Children will have a sub-council for the prevention and protection of children from violence and exploitation in the digital environment, and will implement and monitor cross-sectoral child protection policies in the online environment with representatives of citizens, internet producers and service providers.
“A legal entity engaged in internet production and services shall be obliged to introduce techniques and technologies to detect information on sexual violence against children in the digital environment and report every case of violation of children’s rights,” Article 8.8 stipulates.
Moreover, every citizen and official shall be required by law to inform the police of possible violations of children’s rights, harassment and exploitation in the online environment.
Article 2.9 of the bill states, “Responsibilities of child organizations and legal entities for child protection shall be added as follows. Organizations, business entities and legal entities shall establish public and part-time parent councils to implement and monitor child protection policies in the operations and human resources policies of an organization, and organize training and advocacy activities to reduce violence against children and families.”
EXPECTED OUTCOMES OF PROPOSED AMENDMENT
With the adoption of the draft amendment to the law, the child protection system is expected to be strengthened, while the structure, system and functions of government organizations related to child protection are defined at all levels.
Child protection services will also be provided at a professional level and become accessible to all children in need, the bill initiators said.
Child protection services can be diversified, and its quality and accessibility will be improved, they added. Budget efficiency for child protection is likely to be improved, and open new financial services for every child.
Although strains on the state budget will likely occur once the new law is implemented, lawmakers believe that ensuring the rights of every child will be an invaluable investment for the future of Mongolia.
In connection with the bill, a draft amendment to the Law on Combating Domestic Violence will be developed, parliamentarians said.
These are ambitious targets and they may incur changes during reviews but updating the law is necessary to enhance child protection services and prevent violence against children. The Law on Child Protection is an important legislation that must be enforced properly make Mongolia a better place for children.