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Case of girl tortured to death uncovered system shortcomings

GRAVE sentences were pronounced over the mother and the stepfather of Lucka, a 5-year-old girl the tortured to death October 16. However, the state has still does not done enough to prevent such cases in the future, according to observers.

GRAVE sentences were pronounced over the mother and the stepfather of Lucka, a 5-year-old girl the tortured to death October 16. However, the state has still does not done enough to prevent such cases in the future, according to observers.

The step-father was sentenced to 17 years behind bars for torturing a child and mother to 14 years for not preventing him and for not providing basic care for child, but the sentence is not effective yet. The girl had a broken nose, jaw, shoulder and left hand and an open fracture. Although the girl was tortured on daily basis, the intention to kill her was not proven.

“She suffered such cruel pains that go beyond human limits, let alone a child,” said the judge, as quoted by Sme, adding that this was a particularly raw and harrowing action so the punishment is sufficiently rigorous.

A social worker went for a check to the flat of the family in Bratislava, but she got only to the door and she did not prevent the tragedy. The little girl, tortured to death, stayed in the flat for three years after the crime, hidden in a closet. Parents raised another, younger child in the same flat and drew family allowances that belonged to the long-dead child.

The social worker who has been taken to responsibility for insufficient activity still awaits her verdict. The former head of the Bratislava Office of Labour and current mediator, Ida Želinská, in an interview with Sme, said that standards of controls by social workers have changed since the crime was uncovered by chance.

There have been several positive measures and changes taken since the case was published: There are more profound internal audits, social workers were re-trained; a national coordination centre for handling violence on children was founded at the Labour Ministry and more employees are at the centres of social-legal protection. Moreover, 92 new “family assistants” have been hired; and a better control of children who fail to enrol at elementary school was introduced.

The negatives are, however, the missing law on field work; lack of field social workers; and the core of the field work being on the shoulders of non-governmental organizations instead of on the state, according to Sme.

(Source: Sme)

Compiled by Roman Cuprik from press reports
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