Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor

What is going on in Zatik? The Observers’ second visit

July 12, 2023

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After the high-profile visit to “Zatik” child support center, the group of observers made one more. The group issued a report about the visit (click here to read the full report).

 

Cases of violence continue


During the visit on March 29, the group of observers received information about physical and sexual violence, the observers noticed injuries and bruises on some children in the group of boys.
During the visit on May 3, members of the group of observers noticed that children felt some tension around employees of the institution. Some children again mentioned about ill-treatment, including physical violence by other children. For example, older boys can “hit” younger ones, when they are noisy and disturb their sleep. The children say they were threatened “you will see what will happen to you, if the observers complain”. According to one of the children, an employee said, “the observers came, and what did they do?”, implying that even the observation group’s visit did not change anything. The children mention that “everything is in their hands”, implying the employees, and add that they are threatened, for example, that they would be transferred to the orphanage in Gavar. The children also complain that “they keep mentioning it if they give even just one candy”. One of the children also mentioned ill-treatment, including physical violence by one of the policemen, stressing, in particular, one police officer. According to the child, one of the police officers said, “complain to whoever you want”. The children say that only one caregiver forbade the police officers from beating the boys, but she no longer worked there.


During the visit, members of the group of observers recorded that there were two children with bruises. One of the children mentioned that he had fallen. Actually, the information was inconsistent and worrisome, given the obviously scared behavior of one of the older boys while communicating with the observers, as well as one of the boys’ request to change the room due to a dispute between the children. Though compulsory, there was no log for recording violence.

 

The adults’ right to sexual and reproductive health is violated  

 

During the first visit, the group of observers recorded that the adults’ right to sexual and reproductive health was violated. They do not get private and friendly counseling on puberty and the right to reproductive health. The issue was recorded also during the visit of May 3. While the employee informed the observers that she regularly talked to the girls about sexual and reproductive health matters, she also mentioned, “If you talk to teenagers about such things, they will start thinking about it, you better not talk about it. One has to teach the girls modesty, rather than protective means”.
During this visit, some children again raised the issue of shortage and improper quality of hygiene items. In particular, some girls told the observers that they received one pad a day.  Most of the children, just like during the previous visit, mentioned that they mainly used hygiene items provided by their family members.  

 

Overcrowding 

 

Children’s age difference, various manifestations of behavior and health conditions, and insufficient space make decent residence impossible. Standards of private territory in bedrooms were not ensured, there were not individual shelves, and the temperature was low.

 

Children’s movement 

 

The group of observers was given inconsistent information about the children’s movement. In particular, the head of the institution mentioned that she prohibited some boys from going out in the evening, as they could escape; while during the conversation with the children, they mentioned that only the boys, who the head of the institution mentioned as the ones not allowed to go out, are in reality the ones allowed to go out. At the same time, the children go to school unaccompanied. This means that on the one hand, the children can leave the Center’s territory unaccompanied, and on the other hand, their movement is restricted inside the Center’s territory. 

 

When entering the Center, the children do not receive sufficient information in a comprehensible manner. In particular, they are not explained where they go, what they can expect (for example, they are told that they are going to a camp, etc.). In addition, the uncertainty related to the time period during which they will be staying in the Center is problematic. Children are told that they will live in the Center for six months, but that time extends, thus negatively affecting their psychological state.

 

Click here to read more details about these and other problems, comments of the institution, as well as proposals of the group of observers in the full report.

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