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Russia ombudsman urges UN to work out mechanisms to protect children in internal conflicts

September 23, 2014, 21:51 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Violence against children grossly violates the commitments of states proclaimed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Russian children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov says

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Russian children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov

Russian children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov

© ITAR-TASS/Anton Novoderezhkin

MOSCOW, September 23. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov on Tuesday called on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to work out global mechanisms to protect children during internal armed conflicts.

Astakhov made the suggestion at the Council’s meeting in Geneva in connection with the situation in Ukraine’s embattled south-east, where clashes between troops loyal to Kiev and local militias in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions during Kiev’s military operation to regain control over the breakaway territories have resulted in about 3,500 deaths and massive destruction and forced hundreds of thousands to flee Ukraine.

“Taking into account the great authority and role of the UN Human Rights Council in the international fight against child abuse, we suggest in connection with events in the south-east of Ukraine paying special heed in the final report to elaboration of effective international… mechanisms to protect children during internal armed conflicts,” Astakhov wrote on his Twitter microblog.

Astakhov also stressed that his office receives numerous requests, asking him to protect the rights of children residing in the Ukraine’s south-east regions. These are requests “for assistance regarding evacuation of families with children to the Russian territory, complaints over the absence of humanitarian aid and humanitarian corridors in combat operations areas and deaths of families who tried to leave shelled territories,” he said.

According to Astakhov, more than 100,000 Ukrainian children refugees who need assistance and rehabilitation have arrived in Russia.

The ombudsman said violence against children grossly violates the commitments of states proclaimed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to respect the norms of international humanitarian law concerning children and ensure their implementation in case of armed conflicts.

Astakhov also said that the rights of children in the hostilities area in Ukraine to security, protection of life and health, harmonious development, education and medical services are violated on a massive scale. In particular, artillery and mortar fire destroyed civil infrastructure and residential buildings in many localities, schools, hospitals, maternity homes and kindergartens, he said.

“We are urging the international community to pay attention to the disaster in Ukraine that violates the fundamental human rights. It is necessary to finally terminate combat activities and solve political disputes without weapons,” he said.

Crimes and violence against Russian children in the United States confirm the necessity to establish an international legal base of adopted children, Astakhov also said.

Astakhov described the course of the UNHRC meeting in his Twitter.

“We are still worried by crimes and violence against adopted Russian children in the US. We keep pushing for the creation of an international legal base of Russian children’s adoption by foreign nationals, a unified register (databank) of all children citizens of the Russian Federation adopted by foreign nationals,” he said.

The talk is about ensuring regular and unhindered consular access to children, their consular registration, improvement of the system of post-adoption control of children’s life and bringing up conditions in the US, disclosure of personal data of all children handed to new families in the

US without the knowledge of social services, Astakhov said.

“Unfortunately, the American side does not exercise proper control over the work of child rights protection services, is not always interested in their future, does not take decisive measures regarding adoptive parents who abuse their parental rights, including those putting children to the ‘children’s ranch’,” the ombudsman recalled.

A total of 19 Russian children have died in the United States in the past 15 years due to the fault of foreign adoptive parents. Several other children in the US died as a result of accidents and due to other reasons.

The monitoring group on observation of Russian children’s rights abroad has revealed unknown cases of deaths and abuse of Russian children in the United States. In 2014, the Russian Federation’s Investigative Committee initiated and is investigating 14 criminal cases over infringement on the life and health of Russian children in the US.

The Russian law banning American nationals from adopting Russian children took effect in Russia on January 1, 2013. The law was named after Dima Yakovlev - a child from Russia's northwestern Pskov Region who died of heat stroke four months after being adopted by a US couple when his adoptive father left him in a parked car for nine hours

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