New-born babies should be allowed to stay with their convicted mother – amendment of the relevant rule of law at the initiative of the Ombudsman
Máté Szabó welcomes the fact that the Minister of the Interior is going to initiate the amendment of a rule of law which allows the placement of babies with their mothers only until the baby reaches the age of six months. An amendment was proposed by the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights to lengthen this period.
It is in the interest of both the detained mother and the child that they be allowed to stay together as long as possible – says the Ombudsman, who has conducted an inquiry this year in the penitentiary institution of Kecskemét, including the unit where mothers are placed with their children. For the development of attachment between the infant and the mother and for the personality development of the infant it is of crucial importance that the mother – provided she is capable of doing so – should be allowed to look after and care for her child until he or she reaches the age of 12 months.
Pursuant to the relevant rule of law in force, in penitentiary institutions infants can stay with their mothers until they reach the age of 6 months. At the explicit request of the mother the commander of the institution may prolong that period and give permission for them to stay together until the infant reaches the age of 12 months; there is, however, no obligation for the commander to do so. According to the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights this provision is contrary to the requirement of equal treatment and poses an imminent threat to the right to protection of children of detained mothers. In order to remedy this problem the Commissioner proposed to the Minister of the Interior to amend the relevant rule of law. The Minister agrees with the proposal of the Ombudsman and has informed Commissioner Máté Szabó that he is going to initiate the amendment of the rule of law with the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice.