Speaking to the press after the meeting, Veljača said she was sorry if she had contributed to a campaign against social workers with a recent statement which she said “was prompted by the outcome of the monstrous event in Nova Gradiška.”
In a recent Facebook post, she pushed for sacking and revoking the licences of the whole “expert” team from the social welfare centre in Nova Gradiška and establishing if they were criminally accountable for the death of a girl of two and a half who had been severely beaten by her mother.
Veljača said today “we must not ignore problems” and that this case “is not an incident,” adding that the initiative had wanted to warn about problematic cases that did not end in death.
She said she was pleased that the initiative had been in dialogue with Minister Aladrović since November and that he had shown the political will and personal desire to improve the social welfare system.
She said child rights must come first, before parental rights. “We agreed that the ministry should draft an action plan to improve the system.”
Veljača said decisions must be made within the system and that she hoped someone would be held to account for this “absolutely unnecessary death and that no one will hide behind the system.”
#Spasime representatives said it was agreed with Justice Ministry officials that a register of domestic abuse cases should be made that would give access to everyone dealing with the problem – social services, courts and prosecutors.
Last week Aladrović’s ministry instructed directors of social welfare centres that in cases of domestic violence, professionals must apply the Istanbul Convention and violence protocols. This means that in evaluating parental competence, a parent’s history of violence is taken as an aggravating circumstance and that a child’s interest must come before that of parents.
At today’s meeting it was also agreed that oversight of social services’ actions should be conducted regularly.
Vedrana Šimundža-Nikolić of the Justice Ministry said it was agreed to define as a separate crime when an official, through inaction or wrong action, failed to protect a child’s rights and this had consequences
“The law already envisages punishing someone who does not execute a decision to protect a child’s well-being and rights, but in (the Nova Gradiška case) we don’t have failure to execute a decision, but to make it. That would be prosecuted as a separate crime.”
The head of the Family and Social Policy Administration, Marija Barilić, said the Family and Social Policy Ministry had begun making analyses of children in foster care and care homes “so that we can see their situation, if they should stay in the system.”
Minister Aladrović said the ministry was very determined to change the system and that he was confident the system could be improved through the joint efforts of everyone in society.
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