Information on the activities carried out by the Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the field of child rights protection during the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 infection in the country

The new COVID-19 infection, which is rapidly spreading around the world, has become a real source of danger as a global pandemic for all peoples and states. It is a strategic priority for the states to take measures of fighting and prophylactic nature aimed at protecting the health of population.
The approaches based on prevention of the outbreak of pandemic in the Republic of Azerbaijan have been brought in line with the standards of the World Health Organization. In accordance with the instructions of the country President, immediate measures are being carried out, the work on providing preventive and effective medical services is being strengthened. 
The outbreak of the COVID-19 infection makes it necessary to investigate the consequences of the global pandemic from the children’s rights perspective. This activity is of great importance with regard to raising efficiency of adequate measures. The course of current coronavirus pandemic shows that children are not equally exposed to the negative impact of the globalized infectious diseases, but in many cases they are more vulnerable.
Thus, the Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) of the Republic of Azerbaijan conducts monitoring on the issue of protecting and ensuring the rights of different population groups, including the children’s rights within the framework of measures carried out to fight against coronavirus disease in the country.
As a part of the Commissioner’s National Preventive Mechanism activity, keeping the current situation in the state child care institutions in focus, the existing opportunities, ensuring children’s rights and treatment of them, detention conditions, also maintaining effective health services and access to them have been investigated taking into account the gender issues and status of persons with disabilities; discussions have been held with the authorized staff members and institutions.
On this eve, the children residing in boarding schools were returned to their families, and returning back of those in children’s homes, who were sent to their families, have been suspended, also special quarantine regime and social distancing measures were enforced in other groups of facilities.
As a result of the investigations, the given recommendations reflected issues like raising awareness of children residing in children’s homes, educational, healthcare and social service establishments and persons working with them on the basis of the UNCRC, COVID-19 Guidance of the OHCHR, Recommendation of SPT and principles adopted by CPT, strengthening control over proper treatment and detention conditions, satisfying applications on supply and other matters, providing options for alternative communication via internet and telephone.
It should be mentioned that access to the Ombudsman has also been ensured for children, as well their parents and legal representatives with regard to current epidemiological situation. They can apply to the Commissioner via 24-hours-active hotlines (012-96 and 050-370-98-96). Meanwhile, persons, who represent children’s interests, can apply to the Commissioner via email and social networking (Facebook, Twitter). 
The Commissioner’s Ganja, Sheki, Guba and Jalilabad Regional Centers create further opportunities for the groups of population in regions with respect to investigating the complaints on the spot and conducting awareness-raising activities. 
The actions for prevention of COVID-19 pandemic require solidarity, joint cooperation and responsibility from the state and society, as a whole, from individuals. In the human rights context, ensuring the rights of different groups of population, including the children’s rights is significant for the effectiveness of measures in the direction of protecting human health
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