Based on the recent case of sexual assault of an 11-year-old minor, KOMF, which represents 34 non-governmental organizations, conducted an extraordinary press conference, where it expressed deep concern over the neglect, inaction of institutions and the poor performance of the child protection system in preventing situations of sexual attacks and abuse against children and dealing with cases where children are victims of sexual abuse.
KOMF expressed deep indignation regarding the phenomena of not punishing the perpetrators of sexual crimes against children by the institutions mandated for the protection of children. This phenomenon has stimulated an unsafe and dangerous social environment, where the violation of the basic rights of children, the violation of their physical, moral and sexual integrity, becomes a common phenomenon and not an exception.
In recent years, there has been a continuous increase in the number of cases of crimes against the sexual integrity of children, such as rape, sexual assault, degradation of sexual integrity and the misuse of children in pornography. According to the data of the Kosovo Police, in 2021, 249 cases against the sexual integrity of children were registered.
Criminal offenses against the sexual integrity of children are occurring in environments such as families, communities, and even in institutions mandated for the protection of children, such as educational institutions, schools, etc. According to the most recent statistics from the Council of Students of Kosovo, 34.4% of student reports indicate that there are teachers who sexually harass in schools, while no case of sexual harassment or abuse has been reported in the Education Information Management System, in any school in Kosovo. This shows that the prevention and reporting system within the schools is not working.
The cases of sexual abuse of children painfully prove not only the clumsiness and incompetence of the child victim protection system, but also the marked lack of seriousness of the entire justice system in dealing with and punishing the perpetrators of sexual abuse of children.
Taking into account the many cases that have been reported and made media recently, including the cases that have ended in fatality precisely because of the failure of the institutions of the prosecutorial and judicial system, we have expected an institutional reaction from the highest level, in order to reflect, mobilization and accountability for lack of performance at the level of responsibility, of all actors of the child protection system. Inaction is perceived as indifference and this reflects negatively on protection providers at all levels of governance and responsibility.
KOMF through this statement requests:
- The audit of the treatment by state institutions of cases of sexual violence against children, including the treatment of perpetrators of criminal offenses related to sexual violence, during the last five years;
- Conducting a database of persons convicted of criminal offenses against the sexual integrity of children and consequently banning their access to children, according to existing models in the European space, based on the Child Protection Law;
- The toughening of punishments imposed on perpetrators of criminal offenses against sexual integrity within the limits set by the Criminal Code;
- Urgent provision of adequate treatment and protection for all children, victims of sexual harassment or abuse;
- Criminal responsibility by all professionals mandated for child protection, in case of failure during the exercise of the legal obligation for the efficient treatment of these cases.
We are waiting for the urgent actions of the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo to deal with situations of crimes against the sexual integrity of children.
KOMF is open to cooperate with relevant institutions in joint efforts to guarantee safe, healthy and dignified lives for all children.