Publikuar më: 07/04/2022
Konferenca për Strategjinë e re për të Drejtat e Fëmijës: “Përtej horizontit: një epokë e re për të drejtat e fëmijës”
Dear Prime Minister Draghi,
Dear distinguished Ministers, panellists and guests,
It is a distinct pleasure to participate in the launching conference for the new Strategy for the Rights of the Child among many other key stakeholders.
Children rest at the centre of our vision for Albania 2030, ensuring that children are protected and supported, and also are provided with all the opportunities to develop their full potential. The Albanian government has demonstrated a strong commitment to the children’s best interests, and the year 2022 has been named as the children’s year by Prime Minister Rama, with our motto “Children First”. This is not a slogan, but a way of thinking and that children’s best interest is and should always be first and foremost in all decisions affecting governmental policy. This is why, as of September 2021, for the first time in Albania, we have a dedicated state minister for Youth and Children, giving voice to youngsters and children and creating policies with them and for them.
I consider myself fortunate to be the first holding the title of Minister for Youth and Children, however this duty comes with great responsibility.
We strongly believe that the 6 strategic objectives for protecting and promoting the rights of the child will be the building blocks for creating policies, whilst also continuously seeking innovative responses to new challenges. Albania has made immense progress towards completing and implementing the legal framework and policies aimed at promoting the rights of the child in all sectors: justice, social services, education, health and culture.
The legal framework for the rights of the child has been completed, with the approval of law “On the rights and protection of children”, in full compliance with the CRC (Convention on the Rights of the Child). We have also adopted the National Agenda for Children’s Rights 2019-2026 that aims to create a favorable environment for the well-being of children through access to quality services, positive practices of participation, good parenting, elimination of all forms of violence, child and adolescent friendly systems and services and promoting children’s rights in the digital world.
Additionally, we have also created new structures such as the National Council for the Rights and Protection of the Child and the Parliamentary Group “Friends of Children”.
As of September 2021 we have started drafting the National Youth Strategy 2022-2029. Unlike how it is generally done, we decided to go directly to the children and youth, and draft it with them. More than 1,200 Albanian youngsters and children were consulted through a participatory process with regards to the challenges they face, making sure everyone’s voice is heard, and reflected in the Strategy.
Freedom from violence for all children
Another key strategic objective is the freedom from violence for all children. A reporting system on child protection, including sexual abuse and online abuse and exploitation lay at the centre of this systemic approach. This referral mechanism is regulated by 13 bylaws that respond to all children in need of protection. 3 one-stop centres have been set up in Albania, adapting the European Barnahaus model for the treatment of children victims of violence and sexual abuse.
In a close collaboration with NGOs, the group of 16+ has been established with the alternative report of the Civil Society for the Rights of the Child to be represented at the UN in Geneva within 2022.
Albania is part of the periodic meetings of the Council of Europe committees on the rights of the Child Steering Committee for the Rights of the Child (CDENF) and Lanzarote Committee.
Equal opportunities and social inclusion for all children
In terms of equal opportunities and social inclusion for all the children, I would like to emphasise that the National Strategy of Education 2021-2026 includes a specific emphasis on inclusion and equality.
Several steps have been undertaken with this regards. Assistant teachers have been integrated in the education system and we have another program in place to prevent the early-school drop outs and providing a supporting system in collaboration with UNICEF.
A new national program on introduction of the arts, crafts, agriculture and environment and tech subjects to children at the pre university level will start in September 2022, by giving them opportunities to develop their talents on out of the schooling time, for free. This program will have a special focus on children in rural areas and those coming from disadvantaged groups.
Access to and safe use of technologies for all children
On another pillar, that of access to and safe use of technologies for all children, the Digital technology education in the primary education system is considered a priority for the Government of Albania, under the special attention of Prime Minister Rama. Coding from the first grade is the latest initiative that we are introducing. Through an interactive platform and under the surveillance of trained teachers, children get equipped with a skillset deemed as very important for the 21st century.
While technology provides a wealth of opportunities to learn and develop their skills, it also exposes them to risks of cyber bullying, inappropriate content and other psychological impact. Therefore before us lies the important duty of protecting the children’s rights and ensuring a safe navigation of them in the digital environment.
Child-friendly justice for all children
The Juvenile Justice Code, as the first legal act in Albania that is specifically dedicated to juvenile criminal justice, provides that imprisonment is given only as a last resort against juveniles and for the shortest possible time. As part of the reform in the criminal justice system, we have adopted the Criminal Justice Code for Minors and the Law on the Rights and Protection of Children. Among other developments, the scope of legal protection has been expanded to include young people up to the age of 21.
Children’s rights in crisis and emergency situations
I would like to share a final story, that of Albania and Afghanistan, more specifically the welcoming made to children in emergency situations. Under the special attention of the Government of Albania, shelter, food and school has been provided to afghan children, for many months. Children have been integrated as part of our schooling system, and have been made to feel at home.
Thank you and looking forward to listen to all your key note comments.