Children’s rights commissioner Leda Koursoumba on Thursday condemned the fact that the 13-year-old boy who allegedly fatally stabbed his nine-year-old sister was admitted to the Athalassa psychiatric hospital because there is no detention facility for underage offenders.
Koursoumba, who for years has campaigned for a comprehensive policy to tackle juvenile offenders and suspects, said she was shocked by the tragic incident which took place in Larnaca on Tuesday.
“Given the age of the alleged perpetrator we owe it to him to approach him first and foremost as a child. A child who has been the victim of an ineffective, if not indifferent, system of social protection,” she said.
“According to what has emerged, the two children come from a family already known to the social welfare services. In addition, the 13-year-old member of this family seems to face multiple and serious behavioural problems.”
Once again, she stressed, “we are confronted with the tragedy of two children, embarrassed, repeating the concerns of a failed system.”
We must wonder about the way the state deals with the detection and monitoring of such cases, she said, adding the government must meet its obligation to children and their families and build an integrated, child-centred social system to protect them, starting with prevention.
She said that a crucial part of this had to be a child-friendly justice system for children who are in trouble with the law, including structures and procedures for prevention and decriminalisation, which are still not part of the legal system.
Koursoumba pointed out that a bill was drafted in 2014 to establish such a system, but it has not yet even been presented to the House.
“I believe it is imperative that the bill is passed without delay,” she concluded.
The 13-year-old boy reportedly stabbed his sister 15 times with a kitchen knife during an argument on Tuesday. She was pronounced dead upon her arrival at Larnaca hospital.
The two children were staying with their father after the parents separated and were being monitored by the welfare services. The family had arrived from Romania three years ago. According to news reports, the father does not have stable employment and the family lives on welfare.