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A draft amendment to the Family Code, called the Kamilka Act, directed to re-work in the committee

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The draft amendment to the Family and Guardianship Code, commonly referred to as the “Kamilek from Częstochowa Act”, was referred back to the committee after amendments were submitted during the second reading. The project concerns, among other things, the systemic protection of children against harm.

– We are getting closer to passing a law that is good, needed and expected – said Deputy Minister of Justice Marcin Romanowski during the discussion. – We manage to create a legal act that will actually serve children. We tried to analyze all the comments that came to us very carefully. Of course, not all of them could be included in this project due to the scope of the project – he added.

READ: Kamil suffered for so many days. And where were you then?

Monika Rosa, a Pole from the Civic Coalition, assessed that the draft amendment is important and expected. – However, a strategy for the protection of children’s rights is needed, including inter-ministerial coordination – she added. – We are finishing work on changes that will better protect the most vulnerable, i.e. children. Those who cannot defend themselves, but often call for this defense – said Katarzyna Piekarska from the Civic Coalition. She added that this is a good project and the club will vote in favor of it.

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Look: Childless policy

Draft amendment to the Family Code directed for re-work in the committeePiotr Nowak/PAP/EPA

During the discussion, Krzysztof Paszyk from the Polish People’s Party said that the project is absolutely necessary to prevent further dramas. He also repeated his call for funds from the Justice Fund to be used to help children.

READ: The abused child syndrome. “It was just begging for someone to look at this family”

The representative of Poland 2050, Mirosław Suchoń, said that the group would support the project. “The proposed changes are a huge step in the right direction,” he said. He added that it is a pity that they were not introduced sooner.

The Sejm is working on an amendment to the Family and Guardianship Code

The draft amendment to the Family and Guardianship Code provides for i.a. the obligation to analyze the most serious cases of violence, the implementation of child protection standards in various institutions, the introduction of the institution of children’s representatives and a risk assessment questionnaire for the services.

The draft amendment was submitted to the Sejm in May by MPs from Sovereign Poland. Many NGOs have already called for this. The initiative is supported by 23 institutions and non-governmental organizations, including the Empowering Children Foundation, the Committee of Psychology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the “NON LICET” Foundation Helping Victims of Domestic Violence, the “Child in the Center” Foundation, the Soroptimist International Organization and the Union of Polish Clubs.

Support for the regulation was also expressed by all parliamentary clubs. The project aims to raise the standards of minors’ participation in court procedures, strengthen their protection, including systemic protection against harm, and increase the level of respect for the rights of people with disabilities.

Szredzińska: in 2018, 41 percent of children said they experienced psychological or physical violence at the hands of their loved onesTVN24

What changes does the project involve?

The draft stipulates the obligation to introduce standards for the protection of minors in all facilities working with children. The standards include: vetting staff for sexual and child abuse offences, developing and adhering to a code of safe staff-child relationships.

The project also assumes the development and implementation of clear procedures in the event of suspected child abuse – as a result of violence by a staff member, domestic violence or peer violence.

It is stipulated that the minister responsible for social security issues, in consultation with the minister of justice, will define by way of an ordinance the template of the questionnaire concerning the threat to life or health of a child. The questionnaire is intended to be used by social workers, police officers and healthcare professionals.

In addition – as the draft assumes – for a child remaining under parental authority, which neither of the parents can represent, the guardianship court appoints a representative of the child. He will be empowered to perform all activities related to the case, also in the scope of appealing and enforcing the decision. A child’s representative may be an appointed advocate or legal advisor who demonstrates particular knowledge of the child’s affairs.

The regulation also establishes a probation officer for a person with a disability, who is to be a support, and not a statutory replacement, in settling legal matters.

Dr. Marek Michalak: what happens downstairs is a repercussion of what happens upstairs

Dr. Marek Michalak: what happens downstairs is a repercussion of what happens upstairsTVN24

The project also introduces listening to the child, if his mental development, health and degree of maturity allow it. The child may be heard only with his consent. The regulation provides that the court will take into account the child’s opinion and reasonable wishes, depending on the circumstances, mental development, health and maturity of the child. The hearing of the child will be possible only once in the course of the proceedings, unless significant circumstances emerge that require the child to be heard again.

Announcement of an analysis of child abuse cases

The project also foresees the introduction of an analysis of serious and fatal cases of child abuse. The explanatory memorandum to the project indicated that the main principle of this mechanism is to improve the protection of children and their well-being by fostering a culture of learning among practitioners and institutions about what needs to be changed and how to achieve it.

According to the regulations, the analyzes will be carried out by a team of experts appointed by the Minister of Justice for a period of four years. The team will consist of six experts, one each from the fields of law, paediatrics, psychology, psychiatry, pedagogy and sociology. Two representatives of non-governmental organizations will also participate in the analysis each time as an expert consultant.

The project also emphasized the need to introduce mandatory training for family judges to better understand the needs of children involved in court proceedings.

“Kamilek from Czestochowa Act”

The discussion on greater protection of children flared up after the death of 8-year-old Kamil from Częstochowa, who was tortured by his stepfather. The eight-year-old’s stepfather, Dawid B., was accused of murdering the boy with particular cruelty. According to the investigators, the man poured boiling water on the boy, hit the boy with a shower and fists on the body, threw him on a hot coal stove.

The drama of tortured Kamil lasted several years. Calendar of events

The prosecutor’s office also brought other charges – mother Magdalena B. is responsible for aiding. Allegations of not providing help were heard by uncle and aunt – Wojciech and Aneta J. – and Artur J., who lived in the same apartment.

Main photo source: Piotr Nowak/PAP/EPA

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