MOSCOW, December 28 (Itar-Tass) —— The main achievement of the outgoing year in the protection of children’s rights in Russia became the creation of the institute of child rights commissioners in all Russian regions, Russian presidential child rights commissioner Pavel Astakhov told a press conference on Wednesday.
“One of the main achievements in 2011 is the creation of the institute of child rights commissioners in all Russian regions,” he said, adding that “the last region, where this institute was established, is the Jewish Autonomous Region.”
Astakhov noted that “this year together with his aides he went on inspections of 1,168 asylums, orphanages and boarding homes in 33 regions.” “In 2011 we visited less regions than in the previous year, but our inspections are embracing a larger number of organizations, we began to conduct a more detailed inspection at each of them, and inspect thoroughly how the rights of children are observed in the orphanages,” the child rights commissioner said. He noted that he inspected personally with his aides “how Russian presidential instructions are fulfilled regarding the provision of orphans with housing, their summer vacations, the prevention of social orphanage and the work of the guardianship councils.”
The inspections, which were initiated by the child rights commissioner, resulted in the dismissals of more than 80 officials and directors of children’s asylums, regional ministers and the chiefs of departments and committees in 2011. Some 50 officials were fired in the previous year, Astakhov recalled.
Meanwhile, he noted that the child rights commissioner’s staff tried about 6,000 pleas from all federal constituents, which primarily concerned the protection of the rights of orphans and children, who were left without parental care, in 2011. Astakhov emphasized that “the number of orphans went down 26% as a result of the work of regional child rights commissioners in the last few years and about 14,000 of them were taken to educational institutions for underage orphans.”
“The positive outcome of the activities of the child rights ombudsmen became the enactment of regional laws and target programs,” he said.
Speaking on the plans for the next year Astakhov pledged to continue inspections in other Russian regions. In February 2012 the president will hear a report, which “brings together not only the statistical data over the protection of child rights, but also proposals to improve the legislation and the prospects for the development of the institute of child rights commissioners,” Astakhov told Itar-Tass.
Meanwhile, a fifth congress of child rights commissioners will be held in St. Petersburg in April, Astakhov said. The congress will be devoted to the psychological aid to underage orphans.
“For a long time the child rights protection lacked the coordination at the federal level, and each region pursued its own children’s rights policy. This year some success is obvious in this issue,” he said. The statistical reports point to positive results in the functioning of the child rights commissioners. For instance, he noted that “the number of abandoned children went down 20% for the last few years, the number of orphanages went down 11%, a clear-cut growing tendency is taking shape in the number of adopted children by Russian families.”
Meanwhile, the child rights commissioner also noted that “a very important achievement in 2011 became the signing of the bilateral agreement on cooperation in children’s adoption between Russia and the United States and the signing of the agreement on cooperation in children’s adoption between Russia and France.” “We should also be active in international activities,” Astakhov said. “A big number of Russian children live abroad. We will also follow their fate,” he pledged.