Russia: Rights of the Child, Including Situation in Orphanages
Presentation at the Round Table “Briefing to the EU by
Human Rights NGOs: EU/Russia Consultations on Human Rights”
European Union Delegation to the Russian Federation
Moscow, 13-14 April 2011
“Russia needs modern system of protection of childhood.
At present there are no system at all !”,
President Dmitry Medvedev, at the Meeting dedicated
to prevention violence against children, 16 March 2009
Russia, as every country joining the Convention on the Rights of the Child, must every 5 years submit to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) the Periodic State Report on implementation of the Convention. The Russia’s combined 4th and 5th Periodic Report is being drafted now in the Ministry of Health Care and Social Protection and hopefully will be submitted soon (the deadline was 14 March 2011). A months ago the author of this Presentation, as a Member of Public Chamber of Russia and co-author of two (in 1998 and 2005) Alternative Reports of Russia’s NGOs to UN CRC, received from the Ministry the preliminary version of this Periodic Report with a request to formulate ASAP my views, proposals and notes.
I was grateful for this possibility because it gave me a chance to formulate again the list of vitally needed and postponed for years reforms and also since this draft-Periodic Report included the updated Federal statistical data about children and childhood in Russia. In particular it said that:
- in 2009 number of children (below 18 years old) in Russia was equal to 25 million 981 thousands (decreased by 5 million 200.000 as compared to 2003); however number of children of the age 1-4 years old increased after 2006 by 1 million (which is a direct result of “Mother capital” and some other Government’s measures);
- in 2009 number of children permanently living in different State institutions was equal to 371,7 thousands – 1,43% of children’s population (decreased by 106 thousand as compared to 2003, when it was 1,53% of children’s population).
I add from other sources:
- from this huge figure of the institutionalized children only 30% (120 thousands in 2009) are orphaned children, including so called “social orphans” whose parents are alive but abandoned their kids or where deprived parental rights by the courts; other 70% (250 thousands in 2009) are children permanently living in internats on their parents’ application motivated by the social or economical bad conditions of the family or by the impossibility to cope with disabled child;
- every year there are revealed more then 100 thousands new orphans in Russia (more than 300 per day in average); the “fabric of orphanhood” constructed by Russian laws works non-stop.
Surely Russia hardly has something positive to present to UN CRC. The repeated Recommendations given by CRC to Russia in 1993, 1999 and 2005 are basically not implemented at all. Among non-fulfilled CRC’s Recommendations:
- Juvenile Justice for minors-delinquents is not implemented yet, and application of Juvenile technologies remains just a local pilot experience for years; teenagers are still handled by Russian judicial system on equal with adults;
- no effective mechanism of consideration of complaints on cruel and degrading treatment – in the family, in schools, in children’s institutions – is created,
- no restoring social work with vulnerable families is introduced which results in the named above non-ceasing “flood of new orphans from the population”;
- providing of social services, following Soviet tradition, is still monopolized by State – contrary CRC’s recommendations to involve public initiatives in it;
- and mechanisms of effective deinstitutionalization of orphans are not elaborated yet (although there was direct Order by that time President Putin, dated 10 May 2006, to work out such mechanisms);
- children’s institutions remain non-transparent, violations of children’s right are huge including a sort of punitive psychiatry applied for child’s misbehavior; system of public inspectorate of these institution repeatedly recommended by CRC is not created yet;
- segregation in education and excessive diagnostic of mental disability depriving the child of the education are still the routine practice;
- enormous disparity between 82 Russian regions (provinces) in providing social services vastly developed during last 6 years (in the September 2010 Report by the Russian League of Health it is said that regional health care budget per capita differs between some regions up to 6 times);
- and there is no Body in the Russian Government authorized to implement, or even to read, the Recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
All this is summed up in the short words by President Dmitry Medvedev given in epigraph.
That is why in my quick and short answer to the State-authors of the new Russia’s Periodic Report to UN I advised to concentrate in the Periodic State Report on planned plural reforms, first on the reform of the work of Russian social system which is the necessary prerequisite for implementation of the Convention in Russia and which is hindered for years by the same Ministry of Health Care and Social Protection which asked me to comment their draft State Report.
There are the following grounds for hope for better future:
- at present we – children’s rights defenders of Russia - work in close cooperation with President’s Ombudsman for Children’s Rights, in frames of Public Chamber of Russia and of President’s Council on Development of Civil Society to promote the needed building of system of protection of childhood in Russia; in particular the Draft of the Federal Law on Public Inspectorate of Children’s Institutions elaborated by NGOs is now most seriously considered by the responsible bodies on the direct Order of President;
- also in the last years the strong Civil society initiatives (volunteers for orphaned children, for children in internats, etc., etc.) essentially develop, mostly those are young parents of new post-Soviet generation; we cooperate with them actively, and the first-hand task today is to unite and to strengthen these new initiatives.