In the framework of the Human Rights Council 51 session, Child Rights Connect and its members made a joint statement during the Interactive Dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine established by the Council in March. In support of the work and the local voice of members and partners in Ukraine, the statement has been drafted by the Ukrainian Child Rights Network and addressed the main priorities identified by local partners.
You can read the full statement here:
This statement is made on behalf of a group of child rights NGOs, including the Ukrainian Child Rights Network.
We welcome the oral update by the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine and its initial efforts in investigating and gathering evidence on alleged human rights violations and abuses that continue to be committed with impunity. We especially applaud the Commission’s victim-centred approach and its particular attention on the impact of the war on children.
Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, children have been negatively affected. Be it through witnessing violence, seeing their family members getting hurt or killed, having to flee their homes, being forced to leave their schools, friends and losing their sense of safety, growing anxiety or getting killed. Child rights violations continue unabated ever since.
We welcome the work of the Commission of Inquiry and call for accountability for child rights violations to be prioritized, in particular:
- We call the CoI to examine the cases of reported involuntary evacuations of Ukrainian children from occupied territories to Russian Federation, including children that resided in care institutions
The reports are increasingly presenting evidence of at least 7754 according to the Ministry of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine that were removed from occupied territories of Ukraine to RF including those that resided in care institutions. The Presidential Envoy on Children’s Rights of the Russian Federation (Maria Lvova-Belova) has reported placement of at least 125 children from Ukraine into families in various regions of RF. It is believed that most, if not all, of the children have biological parents in Ukraine. We request that CoI makes every effort to trace cases of all such children and thoroughly investigate all cases of such evacuations in order to ensure protection of their best interests in line with the UN CRC.
- We call for close follow-up and monitoring of the situation of children who left Ukraine
While there have been tremendous efforts by governments and authorities in countries of reception to provide children who fled the war in Ukraine with access to protection and services, there remains an urgent need to closely monitor the whereabouts and details of children’s care and reception to follow up on and prevent potential child rights violations. Especially children without parental care including those evacuated from large institutions and foster families continue to face risks of trafficking, accommodation in inadequate facilities, and limited access to services and opportunities to contact their biological, foster or extended families, also due to a lack of monitoring and registrations. Most of the children which were evacuated to other member states have at least one living parent. Efforts need to be made towards identifying their parents and ensuring contact with the biological parents and extended family where it is in their best interest. Further, children without a residence status in Ukraine or whose parents have no secure residence status in Ukraine are frequently excluded from equal access to care, protection and services in countries of reception.
All exchanges between governments of countries of reception and the government of Ukraine on the situation of children have to be centred around children’s best interest. The government of Ukraine relies on updates on the situation of children including on the services and interventions provided and specific needs that might have been identified. Debates on the return of children have to include individual assessments based each child’s best interest and involving child protection specialists in countries of reception and from Ukraine. Children must return to Ukraine following the thorough assessment of each individual. And the relevant childcare and protection authorities of Ukraine must be informed and involved in finding proper solutions for each of such case.
51st Session of the UN Human Rights Council
Item 4: ID with the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine (oral update, HRC res. 49/1 and S-34/1)
23 September 2022
- Child Rights Connect (ECOSOC status)
- Plataforma de Infancia
- The Ukranian Child Rights Network
- Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights)
- Child Rights Information Centre Moldova
- The Association for Child and Family Empowerment AVE COPIII, Moldova
- The Alliance of Active NGOs in the field of Child and Family Social Protection (APSCF)