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Child commissioner calls for regulation of summer camps after abuse claims

Child commissioner Despo Michaelidou

Commissioner for Children’s Rights Despo Michaelidou called on Monday for the state to introduce a framework covering the operation of summer camps in a report looking into claims that children were abused at a camp in Paphos three years ago.

According to the media reports cited by the commissioner in her report Paphos police received three separate complaints from parents in 2017.

The parents told police their children, all around the age of 13, were abused at the Paphos summer camp they attended.

Michaelidou said her office then launched an investigation into the matter.

“In the context of the process of investigating the media reports, the institutional framework governing the operation of the camps was examined, through a study of the existing legislation,” she said.

The report concluded there is a complete lack of an institutional framework governing the camps, which the state needs to address.

Specifically, the commissioner notes in her report that police discovered during their investigations at the camp an underage individual was acting as team leader for children and abusing them.

Police investigated the ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and assault causing actual bodily harm’ of the children.

The welfare services informed Michaelidou that they did not investigate the matters, “as it is not part of their duties”.

“The absence of an institutional framework does not allow for children’s camps to be controlled by a competent body, leaving the children involved in them exposed,” she said.

She called on the state to make a framework for operating camps and to operate more child-friendly camps, taking her recommendations into account.

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