ArmInfo.The Ministry of Labor and Social Security is in the process of reform, in particular in the field of adoption of children, taking into account all the risks that existed under the previous system of government. Anahit Kalantaryan, head of the department for children's affairs of the RA Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, stated this in an interview with ArmInfo. The ministry explained that children in difficult situations were entered into a closed database to help potential foster parents for the adoption procedure.
<This database is private and secret. The database includes children without parental care, children with disabilities, children from poor families. All of them belong to the category <children at risk>. Information on vulnerable categories of children is provided by the municipalities of the communities and the Mayor's Office of Yerevan, after which the Ministry is already contributing these data to the state resource. In addition, those wishing to adopt a child are also included in the database>, Kalantaryan explained, noting that the database for adoption in Armenia from the beginning of 2019 to this day has 42 children, and 11 children have already found new families.
"According to our legislation, data on those children who have not been adopted by RA citizens for 3 months are redirected to the Ministry of Justice to consider the issue of their international adoption," she added.
Note that for the period from 2008-2018. out of 6 orphanages, 495 children were adopted by foreign citizens, and 116 children by local citizens over the same period.
Touching upon the issue raised at a government meeting on the existing risks in child adoption procedures identified as a result of research, Kalantaryan explained that the final results of the study will be presented in the short term.
She noted that the government meeting was held behind closed doors. <We want to introduce new paragraphs, provisions in the legislative field to reduce possible risks during adoption. These risks are numerous. However, only after the results of the study and the revealed difficulties can we provide more specific information>, she added, noting that the requirements for adoptive parents and the range of tasks related to the adoption process itself will be revised as part of the new reforms. According to Kalantaryan, in addition to collecting additional documents, it is also planned to introduce training courses for foster parents, and to reduce the barriers between orphans and foster parents, the ministry will create a video database with profiles of children. "This will make it possible to exclude some risks, in particular, related to psychological incompatibility in the family," Kalantaryan explained. According to her, it is also planned to introduce mechanisms to control the fates of adopted children. Every 6 months for 3 years monitoring will be carried out, if necessary, monitoring will be more systematic. <Considering that in most cases children get to shelters because of adverse socio-economic conditions, because of mental disabilities and the presence of disabilities in their parents, the ministry is trying to assist these people by involving their colleagues in solving these issues, "said Kalantaryan, recalling the memorandum on preventing children from entering orphanages due to disability, signed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, the Ministry of Health and the public organization "Good Mother".
In turn, the lawyer, director of the legal office of "Di Hey Consulting" Irina Danielyan believes that the reform of the social sector in Armenia at the moment does not proceed from a single social policy, and are mainly tactical rather than strategic.
<The social policy of the Republic of Armenia can be described as post-Soviet, outdated. A unified strategic plan for social policy in the Republic of Armenia, consistent with the real economic opportunities of the country, is needed>, she said.
When asked about how much the state protects the rights and interests of children during adoption, the lawyer noted that in order for adoption to comply with the provisions for the protection of human rights and other obligations, numerous procedural issues need to be addressed.
<Most of the problems identified are related to gaps in the system, and not to individual criminal or unethical acts. Problems more likely arise with international adoption, in which children are passed for adoption to citizens of other states.
The complete absence of mechanisms for monitoring the living conditions and upbringing of the adopted child contains serious risks in terms of protecting the rights and interests of children. To date, the embassy / consulate of Armenia is the body that monitors the living conditions and upbringing of the adopted child in a foreign country. However, practice proves that the embassies are not able to provide proper control>, Danielyan believes.
When asked about how simple and transparent the adoption process is in Armenia and what problems and risks exist regarding the adoption procedures in place, the lawyer noted that, like in any other country, the adoption procedure in Armenia contains some corruption risks.
<The fact is that the choice of foster parents for a particular child basically depends on one official and is out of control. In addition, observers from other institutions that oversee this area cannot attend the adoption commission meetings, and sound recordings of these meetings are not kept. These circumstances may cast doubt on the transparency and objectivity of the adoption process>, she added. The lawyer of the RA Chamber of Advocates, the chairman of the Armenian Representative Office of the International Union (Commonwealth) of Advocates Vardan Khechyan noted that the most important thing in the adoption of children is that the adoptive parents are morally stable and not harm the child, as well as be provided in material terms. According to Khechyan, the time has come to introduce the corresponding changes in the legislative field, contributing to the liberalization of the adoption procedure, to make it more accessible.
It should be noted that over the past 50 years, international agreements have been developed and adjusted that regulate the changing landscape in the field of adoption and the serious problems that arise in this regard. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is currently the main normative document on adoption at the global level. The 1993 Hague Convention is dedicated to the protection of children and cooperation regarding foreign adoption.
Relevant standards are also established on the basis of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. Changes and amendments to the laws of the Republic of Armenia related to the procedure for adoption of children, as a rule, are the result of monitoring by a number of international organizations and experts who identify current problems and shortcomings in the laws of the Republic of Armenia. More recently, some amendments to the RA Family Code have also been introduced.
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