Child Rights Situation in Ukraine: still many issues to be addressed. Ukrainian children need more attention from the State
Geneva, Kyiv, 10 February 2011 – The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on 4 February 2011 issued its Concluding Observations on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict to the Government of Ukraine. This was in response to the Government’s reporting to the UN Committee on 28th January 2011. While welcoming progress achieved in implementation of the UN CRC in Ukraine, the Committee outlined issues that still need to be addressed to further improve the situation of children in Ukraine.
UNICEF welcomes the recommendations outlined in the Concluding Observations as it comprehensively addresses the most disconcerting violations of children’s rights in Ukraine. The recommendations clearly call for the Government of Ukraine to fully commit to the social sector reform process with special attention to the protection of children’s rights.
Particularly, regarding the on-going administrative reform, the Committee expressed its concern about the sustainability of child policies and programmes, as the reform of the public administration may undermine effective coordination and implementation of policies for children and result in a deterioration of support, protection and preventive services for children most-at-risk. It urged Ukraine to undertake a comprehensive functional review of its central and local Government institutions responsible for decision-making for children and ensure that responsibilities are well delegated and clearly defined within the new structures. The Committee noted that the Government of Ukraine may seek technical assistance from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in the consideration of the above recommendations.
The Committee’s recommendations clearly show its concern about the slow progress of Child Care Reform. Far too many children are still accommodated in residential institutions, instead of families at-risk or in crisis being provided social services, which could mitigate the risk of institutionalisation of vulnerable children, such as children deprived of parental care, children with disability, children with HIV and children in conflict with law. While Ukraine has achieved an increase of foster care and a decrease of baby abandonment, the system still fails to fully protect the right of the child to grow up in a family environment and to mitigate risks for increased social vulnerability.
The Committee also addresses the issue of the existing stigma and discrimination against socially vulnerable children, particularly children with disability, children with HIV, children of ethnic minority and stateless children. In addition, the Committee is deeply concerned about the high number of children on the streets, which Ukraine acknowledges as an “acute” problem. The rights violations are serious in relation to substance and drug abuse, transmission of HIV, sexual exploitation, forced labour and police violence. Furthermore, the Committee identifies a serious issue about the significant number of allegations of physical ill-treatment of detainees, including children, notably during initial questioning in district police stations.
In order to strengthen the Child Protection System in the country and mitigate the increasing social risks and social disparity in relation to children, the Committee in its recommendations advised Ukraine to allocate sufficient funding to the annual State Programmes for the implementation of the National Plan of Action for Children until 2016 and ensure funding to it as a separate line in the Budget Law for each year. As of today, the Programme to implement the National Plan of Action for Children in 2011 has not been adopted by the Government.
The Committee advised Ukraine to incorporate in domestic legislation the principle of non-discrimination and the prohibition of discrimination against children on any grounds including status of the child’s family, race, religion, national, ethnical and social origin, and disability. It also recommended Ukraine to strengthen its legislative and regulatory framework to facilitate family reintegration. Strong recommendations were also given to the Government of Ukraine to establish a separate independent national mechanism for comprehensive and systematic monitoring of children’s rights and to consider adopting a Law on the Introduction of the Ombudsman for Children in Ukraine.
UNICEF supports the Committee’s recommendations and stands ready to continue to support the Government of Ukraine to implement the recommendations of the Committee. ‘We, as UNICEF, have been already fully engaged in technical support to the Government to address most of those critical issues. We would like to see further commitment of the Government in the Child Protection System reform in response to the UN Committee’s recommendations” said, Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF Representative for Ukraine.
The Government of Ukraine needs to submit its next report on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols by September 2018.
You can find full version of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child Concluding Observations 2011 here: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/crcs56.htm
About UNICEF: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 150 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. UNICEF opened its office in Kyiv in 1997. More information about UNICEF activities in Ukraine at www.unicef.org.ua
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Sergiy Prokhorov, Communication Assistant