Filipino children 521.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The National Council for the Child (NCC) petitioned the High Court on Thursday
demanding that the government be ordered to explain why it has failed to
establish six child-protection centers, as required by law.
the law, which was passed in the Knesset in April 2008, as of this Sunday there
were supposed to be eight child-protection centers in full operation – including
six new ones, in addition to the two already operating.
claims that the government’s failure to comply with its own decisions will
continue to cause severe harm to minors who were victims of violent and sexual
offenses – and will now suffer from a second victimization as a result of the
way the current criminal investigation process is handled.
Kadman, chairman of the NCC, said the centers are meant to operate as one-stop
shops for children who experienced sexual or violent attacks – a place where
they can see a doctor, lawyer, social worker and police-child investigator under
one roof. The consolidation of services is meant to spare the children
additional suffering caused by transferring them among the different government
agencies and offices.
“As we know from the two centers that are already
operating – one in Jerusalem and one in Tel Hashomer – the value of these
centers for the children is immeasurable,” said Kadman.
government doesn’t understand that it has to obey the law and has so far done
nothing to implement it.”
Kardan stressed that the expenditure required
of the government was minimal, as the money to create the centers has already
been donated by the Schusterman Foundation. Additionally, he said the government
is only required to pay for the operation budgets – a sum he estimated as NIS 1
million per center, per year.
“Prior to filing the petition, we sent
letters to all the relevant agencies and government ministries, but received
little in the way of answers,” said Kardan.
“The ministries are bickering
between themselves as to who has to pay for what. And in the meantime, no
progress has been made.”
Kardan added that when the bodies were invited
to an educational junket to the US to see the way similar centers operate there,
there was no shortage of government representatives keen on joining the trip.
However, when it came to taking responsibility for the centers’ establishment,
the same representatives disappeared.
“There is no question as to the
necessity of these centers,” Kardan said. “All the professional bodies say it is
a must – especially when it comes to cases which involve children from‘closed
communities,’ like the Haredi community. But it is true for all children. The
centers provide a child-friendly environment, in which the unpleasant processes
that they have to go through are made somewhat easier and less
According to the NCC, the child-protection centers enable all
the required inspections and investigations to take place under one roof, in the
least invasive way possible.
“The children are interviewed by welfare
ministry representatives in a bright and cheerfully painted room, with murals on
the wall and a two-way mirror.
Children are interviewed by a single
person, and aren’t ever aware that representatives of other agencies are
watching,” Kardan said.
The centers are also equipped with a medical
inspection room – and although it is not meant for long-term stays, there is a
place to sleep overnight for instances when children are brought in late in the
The ministries that share responsibility for the implementation of
the law are the ministries of health, finance, internal security and justice.
But the ministry that is primarily responsible for establishing the centers is
the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services.
The Social Services
Ministry said in response to the petition that “The establishment of the rest of
the centers depends on cooperation with the relevant ministries and the
allocation of funds.”
“The remaining additional centers were not built
because of difficulties arising from lack of cooperation from other government
ministries on the matter of job quotas for services under their responsibility
[health, internal security],” the response read.
“The ministry of social
services issued a reminder to the other ministries stressing that they needed to
allocate resources to go towards the services under their
“And that the social services ministry – which isn’t
budgeted in the areas under other ministries’ responsibility – would not
shoulder the entire burden alone, but the other ministries refused,” the