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The Seimas Ombudsman raises doubts about the need of the relaxation rooms in children socialisation centres

30 January 2015 

 MG 3995The Seimas Ombudsman Mr Augustinas Normantas raised doubts about how expedient the relaxation rooms in children socialisation centres are. However, if the decision is made that these rooms shall continue to be of use, he recommends the Minister of Sience and Education Mr. Dainius Pavalkis to take all measures to protect children rights when they are brought there.

In addition, the Seimas Ombudsman recommended minster to prevent the use of special means against children when they are put there.

After visiting children socialisation centres where the custody conditions in relaxation rooms and regulations of the placement of children in these rooms were assesed, the advisers of the Seimas Ombudsman identified that only two centers out of six do not have relaxation rooms.

 

A social worker and psychologist talk to a child when an uncotrolled outburst of emotions overtake him or her in Saulutė and Gruzdžiai children socialisation centres while in others children are carried directly to relaxation rooms.

One more problem was observed by the advisers of the Seimas Ombudsman. Children are brought by violating legal acts to relaxation rooms. Moreover, the use of special means such as handcuffs, tear-gas and rubber stick are used against children in Kaunas children socialisation centre.

The Seimas Ombudsman Mr. A. Normantas emphasized that according to legal acts positive conditions of socialisation, resocialisation as well as education should be ensured:

“A child may be brought to a relaxation room only when he or she poses a clear and present danger to himself or herself or others because of outburst of uncontrolled emotions. However, a placement of a child to a relaxation room is often applied as a punisment”.

Whether behaviour of a child poses a real and present threat to himself or others is not always assessed when a child is taken to a relaxation room.

What is more, the children in Vėliučionys, Vilnius as well as Kaunas children socialization centres are kept for extremely long time, sometimes even up to 24 hours, when isolation of the children should be as a last resort and its use be dicontinued as soon as possible.

The advisers of the Seimas Ombudsman learned that there are poor custody conditions in two relaxation rooms in Vėliučionys socialisation centre. Also, there is no posibility to use toilet facilities there.

“A child should never be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, healthy and save environment should be guaranteed for a child. The relaxation rooms should also fit these standards,” said Mr. A. Normantas.

UN Comittee against torture encouraged Lithuania to review the activity of children socialization centres where the juveniles are brought under conditions of administrative detention.

There are over 400 detention places in Lithuania, including correctional institutions, detention centers, psychiatric institutions and institutions of communicable diseases, care homes, border checkpoints, the Foreigners' Registration Centre and other places of deprivation of liberty in Lithuania.

The Law on the Seimas Ombudsmen allows the Seimas Ombudsmen to enter any social care or custodial institution at any time of the day in Lithuania. The Seimas Ombudsmen started implementing national prevention of torture in Lithuania in the beginning of 2014 when the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania adopted the Optional Protocol (OPCAT) to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

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