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Child Rights Ombudspersons dealing with growing number of cases in Russia, says new report.

© UNICEF/Russian Federation

Moscow, 27 April 2006: A UNICEF report published today finds that Child Rights Ombudspersons across Russia are handling a growing number of complaints and requests for help. The updated report Child Rights Ombudsperson Institute in Russia finds that the Moscow Ombudsperson dealt with 914 cases in 2004, up from just 412 in 2002. Almost half were linked to violations of children’s rights to housing, but the office also responded to complaints related to child disability, the rights of orphans and parental neglect.
 
The report, published by UNICEF with support from the Austrian Government, looks at the experiences of Child Rights Ombudspersons in the Russian regions where they operate. The first Ombudspersons' offices were established in 1998, with the regions of Volgograd, Novgorod and Kaluga, and the cities of St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg taking the lead. Today, the network has expanded to include 17 Ombudspersons.  Children, their parents and guardians can call hotlines or make a personal appointment with a Child Rights Ombudsperson. They can receive whatever assistance they need, from legal counselling to representation in court.

In the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), says the report, about 20% of requests related to the violation of children’s rights to a good quality education. The Ombudsperson also received a complaint from the parents of visually-impaired children about intolerable living conditions and the poor educational environment for their children at a boarding school. As a result of action by the Ombudsperson, the Regional Government provided funds for a new school building.

Carel de Rooy, UNICEF Representative in the Russian Federation, said, “The Ombudspersons play a major role in making children’s voices heard by acting as genuinely independent representatives of children’s interests. Children are always the most vulnerable in the face of poverty, illness, exploitation and violence. The Child Rights Ombudsperson is a social mechanism that gives a chance to every child to be heard and protected.”

The Ombudspersons carry out independent public monitoring of the activities of government agencies, local governments and children’s institutions responsible for protecting child rights to see if they measure up. They aim to protect children whose rights have been violated and find solutions to the violation, and are guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which has been ratified by almost every country.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child, which monitors compliance with the CRC, has recommended that Russia continue its expansion of the Child Rights Ombudspersons network to every Russian region, ensuring that they have the necessary resources to do their job. The Committee has also recommended the creation of a Federal Office of Child Rights Ombudsperson.

For further information, please contact:
John Brittain, UNICEF, Tel: +7 495 937 48 12, jbrittain@unicef.org
Elena Kharitonova, UNICEF, Tel: +7 495 937 21 95, ekharitonova@unicef.org

 

 
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