Children’s Rights in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak

The Flemish Office of the Children’s Rights Commissioner constantly monitors the situation of children and young people, who are increasingly affected by COVID-19 measures in connection with aid organisations, and advises policymakers on a wide variety of themes related to children’s rights. A constantly updated document “Coronacrisis: stay connected with vunerable young people” (in Dutch) was published on the Commissioner’s website and widely distributed. They also published an advisory document (in Dutch) to call for a child-rights perspective in all corona measures. The Flemish Office of the Children’s Rights Commissioner launched an online questionnaire for children and young people to learn more about their experiences of the coronavirus crisis. The Commissioner Caroline Vrijens launched the questionnaire and the campaign (#jongerenovercorona – young people and corona) by wearing a mask covering her entire face in solidary with all children and young  people who are not being heard during the crisis.

The Cypriot Commissioner for Children’s Rights has prepared and posted a special section on her website, with useful information for children regarding COVID -19. Children and young people can find the Commissioner’s message addressed to them during the pandemic, answers to frequently asked questions on how to help children during times of crisis as well as leaflets and videos with recommendations for protecting themselves from the virus, together with useful telephone numbers to ask for help. Two projects are currently run by the Commissioner’s office, namely a creative “demonstration” by the Commissioner’s  Young Advisors Team  under the guidance of  the Theatrical Organisation of Cyprus  as well as a challenge run the in Social Media, named “#therightchallenge”, asking the public to post a photograph or video of themselves doing their favorite activity at home. More information of the two projects can be found on the website.

Illustration by YorgosK/imagistan.com

The Protector of citizens has published a report (in English) which presents the work of its office throughout the COVID-19 crisis. This work has included inspection visits to different places like reception centres, roma settlements, etc, citizens’ complaints and recommendations on various issues such as visitation rights of divorced parents, the right to education, children with disabilities, etc. You can find the report here.  

On
26 March 2020, the Commissioner and his Deputies emphasized in a
joint statement
that in these
extraordinary times, we must not abandon the most vulnerable individuals and communities.

ENOC and UNICEF conducted in May 2020 a short online survey on Ombudspersons and Commissioners for Children’s responses to the new challenges generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty three ENOC members responded to the survey (Armenia, Basque country/Spain, Bulgaria, Catalonia/Spain, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Jersey, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Northern Ireland/UK, Republika Srpska/ Bosnia & Herzegovina, Scotland/UK, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Wales). Following this survey, nearly 60 representatives of Ombudspersons for Children’s offices and UNICEF participated in an online session on June 2nd 2020, to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on their work and on children’s rights in their respective countries, and share innovative practices. The main issues raised in the survey and during the joint online session are summarised in the Report « Ombudspersons and Commissioners for Children’s Challenges and Responses to COVID-19 » published today. You can find the report here.

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