Recommendations and suggestions

Some activities of the Defensor del Pueblo which are examples of our work in recent years with regard to the rights of children and adolescents:

  • Recommendation to the Secretary of State for Social Services and Equality, to ensure that priority is given to fostering rather than residential care for abandoned children, especially for those aged between 3 and 6. It was also recommended that particular attention will be paid to providing foster care for children with disabilities or other special needs.
  • Suggestion that a statute on the rights and duties of foster families be adopted, and that the types of foster care and their duration be more clearly defined, depending on the age and circumstances of the children.

The Minister of Health has recently accepted the recommendation.

  • Suggestion made to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that it should give visas to two minors who are the children of a woman who was the victim of human trafficking.

At the acceptance of this suggestion, the children have been reunited with their mother after three years separation. The woman, who arrived in Spain at the end of 2010, obtained residence as a result of assisting the police in their enquiries. The international tracing service of the Red Cross managed to locate two of her children. After giving them DNA tests and proving the family relationship, proceedings were initiated to reunite mother and children.

  • Recommendation to the Social Welfare Department of the Valencian Autonomous Regional Government to improve the treatment of minors in care, specifically with respect to the benefits and services they are entitled to. In the case that was studied, an orphan was only given the benefits he was entitled to as a result of the efforts of his foster parent, who, not being the child’s guardian, could not represent him directly.

The Department has accepted the Recommendation.

  • Recommendation to the Minister of Finance and Public Administration to extend to career civil servants the option of working a shorter day if they have a seriously ill child requiring constant attention at home, and not just while the child is in hospital – a right which ordinary public employees already have.

The Ministry of Finance and Public Administration has accepted the Recommendation of the Defensor del Pueblo and plans to implement a statutory rule.

  • Several Recommendations that directly or indirectly affect migrant minors.

In 2011, there were several legal reforms and significant changes to administrative procedures which were driven by the Recommendations made by the Defensor del Pueblo. One example is the case of the reform to Organic Law 4/2000 on the rights and freedoms of foreigners in Spain and their social integration, by the introduction of Organic Law 10/2011, of 27 July, that allows any foreign citizen who is in Spain illegally and is the victim of gender-based violence to report it to the police, without the police being able to start proceedings to expel him/her. The need for this reform had been repeatedly called for by this Office.

The aforementioned Law 10/2011 introduces important advances in the fight against human trafficking, which are also in line with requests made by the Defensor del Pueblo. The new Regulations of Organic Law 4/2000, adopted by Royal Decree 557/2011, finally recognise that foreign citizens who are in Spain illegally and are the parents of Spanish minors, may use this situation as proof of their roots in Spain.

The need to ensure that the right of unaccompanied foreign minors to be heard is properly incorporated into repatriation procedures, has also been explicitly included in the new Regulations of the Aliens Act, this reflecting a Recommendation made by the Defensor del Pueblo in 2005.

The Recommendations in the report “Specialist Children’s Homes for Minors with Behavioural Disorders and Special Needs” had a wide impact and practical application.

A considerable number of children’s homes were visited, and inadequacies were detected both in the facilities at some of them and in the criteria for referral and the care programmes. The Recommendations led to the closure of some of the children’s homes and the adoption of measures relating to the care programmes at the homes and preconditions for admission, which had legal and regulatory repercussions.