“The Smile of the Child” and the Ministry of Justice join forces to defend the Rights of the Child and to enforce Child-Friendly Justice
The Minister of Justice, Mr. Konstantinos Tsiaras, and the President of the Organization “The Smile of the Child”, Mr. Costas Yannopoulos, undersigned the Cooperation Agreement on October 12, 2020.
With the Cooperation Agreement both parties commit to a continuous and open communication on the needs, priorities, effective initiatives and partnerships for the benefit of children and their rights – especially in the field of Child Friendly Justice – and the development of a National Action Plan for Children, in compliance with the guidelines of the UN and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Minister of Justice, Mr. Tsiaras, stated; “With consistent efforts and in constructive cooperation with civil society actors, the Ministry of Justice is preparing an up to date coherent Action Plan for the Rights of the Child. In this context, both parties take initiatives that focus on child-friendly justice. This Agreement with “The Smile of the Child” lays the foundations for a broader cooperation with the higher aim of best serving the interests of the child”.
The President of the Organization “The Smile of the Child” stated: “The Agreement we signed today with the Ministry of Justice sets a dynamic framework of cooperation to defend the Rights of the Child and to promote specific measures aimed at “child friendly” court proceedings. For the last 25 years we have been daily fighting to turn Children Rights to Children Realities. Our values for Care, Dignity and Equality for each and every child, together with the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, constitute our compass that guides our actions. Every day we are called to support children who have fallen victims and bear significant traumas in their souls, children whose lives experience severe irregularity. For each of these children, we are committed to contribute with all our forces to the drawing up the National Action Plan of the Ministry of Justice, which focuses on the Child and the defense of its Rights”.
The Cooperation Agreement provides:
● implementing immediate institutional changes for the child protection system in Greece
● organizing reciprocal educational activities for all professionals working with children and for children in the Ministry of Justice, such as Judicial & Prosecutorial Officers, Juvenile Curators, Minor Home Caregivers
● conducting surveys into all aspects of child-friendly justice
● carrying out public awareness actions on issues of children’s rights, in particular child-friendly justice and the rights of children to participation and freedom of expression
● the participation of the Ministry of Justice in the Amber Alert Hellas and Missing Alert Hellas Programs, which “The Smile of the Child” activates as the official authorized body in Greece.
“The Smile of the Child” is called to contribute based on its multifaceted involvement; the Organization has gained valuable experience in the field of protection of minors, through direct and daily contact with children at risk, child victims and juvenile witnesses, and through its daily and effective cooperation with the competent Prosecutor’s Office – Public Prosecutor’s Office, Prosecutor’s Offices, Prosecutions of Minors – and Judicial Authorities, but also with its scientific training and participation in European and International Bodies that aim at the effective implementation of global and European standards that protect and promote children’s rights:
In this context, “The Smile of the Child” undertakes the following;
● to directly inform the competent authorities of the Ministry of all necessary administrative, operational, legislative and institutional actions to be implemented to improve the child protection system,
● to submit its proposals for the elaboration and implementation of the National Action Plan for the Rights of the Child.
In order to implement the above, “The Smile of the Child” sets all its services, structures and infrastructure in the field of child protection at the disposal of the Ministry of Justice.
● The National SOS Helpline for Children 1056
● The European Hotline for Missing Children 116000 which has at its disposal on a 24/7 basis the “Thanasis Makris” Search & Rescue Team for missing children with the participation of certified Canine Groups, special means (jeeps, ATV, motorcycle, ambulances) and the Mobile Business Center “Odysseus”. (Ulysses)
● The European Helpline for Children and Adolescents 116111
● “The House of the Child”, a Day Center for Personalized Mental Health Services for Children and Adolescents
● The Child Advocacy Center (CAC), a ready to operate, specially designed facility created according to international standards and protocols valid in Europe and in the USA, which guarantees the physical and mental safety of child victims or juvenile witnesses during their submission to the competent authorities.
● Apartments for immediate Care of Women Victims of Domestic Violence and their children.
● The Mobile Support Units.
● The “Child Rights Group” that comprises student volunteers of the Organization “The Smile of the Child” in an initiative called “YouSmile”. Children get educated about their Rights and then carry out actions to promote them. In addition, they represent the Organization internationally with the mission of promoting and implementing child participation in decision-making. The Group is present at the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament.