Violations of the rights of the child in CrimeaThe UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has created a new model of attitudes towards children and has served as an impetus for changing the position of the child in the family and society. In this regard, none of the modern lawyers, human rights defenders and legal scholars no longer dispute the fact that the child is an independent bearer of rights – a special subject of law.
However, today it can be stated that adult citizens, parents themselves and officials did not fully realise that children are a national treasure and didn’t realise responsibility towards children.
The primary and most active international agency that protects the rights of citizens, including children, is the European Court of Human Rights.
The following articles of the European Convention most often appear in cases regarding the protection of children’s rights in the ECHR: the prohibition of torture and inhuman, humiliating treatment or punishment (in particular, in cases of corporal punishment of children at school, by parents or by court order); the right to a fair trial (establishes special procedural rules for the prosecution of minors accused of committing a crime); the right to respect for family life (within the framework of which the court interprets the concept of the family; the status of illegitimate children; defines the concept of actions in the interests of the child: choosing a religion, name, etc.; transferring the right to custody of the child to the state; cases of separation of parents and children due to deportation of parents ); restriction of freedom of expression, receipt and dissemination of information to protect health and morality; protection against discrimination; the right to education (for example, education in private schools; respect for the philosophical convictions of parents; teaching in the mother tongue).
IN CRIMEA, THE FOLLOWING VIOLATIONS OF CHILD RIGHTS MAY BE OBSERVED.
Violation of the rights of the child during searches and detention of parents / close relatives.
From 2015 to the present, politically motivated criminal cases have been instituted in Crimea against citizens of Ukraine under articles on extremism, terrorism, crimes against state power and the security of the Russian Federation. During searches and detentions, law enforcement officers and special forces, knowing for sure that in addition to adult residents, there are minors, young children and infants in the house, conduct special operations with exceptional cynicism, emphasised aggressiveness and to instil fear and panic among family members.
As a result of mental trauma to the child, as a result of experiencing stress of a high degree of intensity (searching and detaining his father is just such a situation), he may develop the following disorders:
- Acute stress disorder: astonishment, narrowing of the volume of consciousness and attention, disorientation, the inability to fully realise the events and the causes that caused them, stupor or, conversely, overactive and chaotic behaviour;
- Post-traumatic stress disorder: the period after the trauma, ranging from several weeks to several months, and the course of the disease itself can drag on for a long, up to several years, period. It can be endlessly arising memories, obsessions, nightmares or the so-called flashback symptoms, i.e. painfully sharp outbreaks of a person experiencing the circumstances of a past injury, general alienation, fencing off from other people, inhibition of reactions or a state of irresponsibility to what is happening around, insomnia, enuresis, increased reaction to fright, panic attacks, symptoms of high anxiety and depression, up to thoughts of suicide. Besides, the child can actively seek to avoid places, people, or situations that can remind him of the events that shocked him. In severe chronic cases, PTSD can lead to persistent changes in a person’s personality and autoimmune diseases: type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, vasculitis, etc.
Thus, in a number of decisions of the ECHR, it was established that the possible presence of children whose young age makes them psychologically vulnerable at the place of arrest is a factor that must be taken into account when planning and conducting such operation. The Court points out those police operations, especially in the mornings, in which special masked agents participate, serve to reinforce the feelings of fear and anxiety experienced by children.
In case “A. against the Russian Federation ”(in front of her daughter’s eyes, the police officers brutally beat her father during her arrest, and because of this, she experienced severe psychological problems for a long time), the court concluded that the interests of the nine-year-old child who was present at the father’s detention were not taken into account at any planning stage and conducting an operation by the authorities against her father. Law enforcement officers did not pay attention to her presence, which they were well aware of, continuing the operation and exposing her to violence against her father in the absence of any resistance on his part. This greatly affected the child and in the ECHR’s opinion, meant the inability of authorities to prevent such ill-treatment.
In all cases, the ECHR recognises a violation of the rights of the child under Article 3 of the European Convention – ill-treatment by the police.
Administrative expulsion or deportation of one of the parents from the Russian Federation
In 2015-2017, a wave of administrative expulsions and deportations of non-residents of the Russian Federation swept across the Crimea. This primarily affected citizens of Ukraine, Turkey, and Uzbekistan who had lived in Crimea for more than five years (long-term migrants) who were engaged in entrepreneurial activity and were officially employed, had families, and children.
In respect of non-residents, protocols on an administrative offence were drawn up under Part 1 of Art. 18.8 Administrative Code – violation by a foreign citizen or a stateless person of the rules of entry into the Russian Federation or the regime of stay (residence) in the Russian Federation. According to the court ruling, the foreign person was found guilty of an administrative offence, and the maximum penalty was imposed in the form of an administrative fine with deportation from the Russian Federation for a period of 3 to 5 years.
Thus, the application of the measure of administrative expulsion against the offender, although married to a citizen of the Russian Federation and having children, entails his obligation to leave the territory of Russia within 15 days voluntarily. Such a measure always constitutes a severe interference with personal and family life, the right to respect guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention.
Analysing the practice of the ECHR, we can note the fact that the ECHR is increasingly taking to court cases that are directly or indirectly related to the need to protect the fundamental rights of the child in those cases where the child is not a direct participant in the process. For example, in some court cases involving the expulsion of a parent from the country, the ECHR indicated the need to take into account the rights and interests of the child being expelled and make a proactive weighing of the possible impact of such decisions. Thus, when banishing a parent, the court must always take into account the interests of the child and find a balance between the interests of various parties.
Violation of the right to education
No one may be denied the right to education. In carrying out the functions that it assumes in the field of education and studying, the state respects the right of parents to provide such education and training that is consistent with their religious and philosophical convictions (Article 2 Protocol 1 of the European Convention).
Unfortunately, in Crimea cases of violation of the right to education are recorded for the following reasons:
In 2012, Order No. 107 of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation “On Approving the Procedure for Admitting Citizens to General Education Institutions” appeared, where it was said that children could go to school if they and their parents have a residence registration at the place of residence. Thus, (according to the chairman of the Civic Assistance Committee, Svetlana Gannushkina), a considerable number of children, Russian (because not all are registered at the place of residence and even at the place of stay from Russian citizens), and especially foreign citizens, were denied in enrolling in education facilities.
Despite the fact that the Constitution of the Russian Federation itself, according to the current legislation on education, as well as the explanation of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation that guarantees the accessibility of primary school education in state or municipal institutions, the practice of restricting education is continued in Crimean schools due to the child’s lack of registration in the territory assigned to the school.
For example, the parents of 17 first-grade students of the Municipal Budgetary General Educational Institution “Secondary school No. 22” in the Agrarnoye town of Simferopol were denied admission to the school due to the fact that the children were registered in the territory that did not fall under the school’s location, but lived on 500 meters from the school. The school’s administration and local education authorities insisted that 17 children be enrolled in another school, which is a few kilometres away from them and located across a busy road. Exclusively with the intervention of lawyers and human rights defenders, it was possible to defend the right of children to receive education in this school in connection with its close location and safety for children.
Another problem that every year before the start of the school year occurs in a number of Crimean regions is the organisation of studying in their native language in Crimea schools (Crimean-Tatar, Ukrainian, etc.) or the study of their native language as a subject.
Following the Federal Law “On Education in the Russian Federation”, citizens of the Russian Federation have the right to receive pre-school, primary general and basic general education in their native language from among the languages of the peoples of the Russian Federation, as well as the right to study their native language from among the languages of the peoples of the Russian Federation in the limits of the possibilities provided by the education system in the manner established by legislation on education.
Parents, when exercising the right to study in their native language, as a rule, face an adverse reaction from the school administration, which, through psychological pressure and manipulation, incite parents to refuse to study in their native language for their child. The school administration claims that the school does not have the opportunity to provide the child with textbooks in their native language, there are no free classes, there are no literature and teaching aids, and there is no native language teacher in the state. These arguments are a gross violation of the right to education because according to the reports of the Crimean Ministry of Education, Science and Youth and per budgetary allocations, the schools of Crimea are fully equipped with the necessary textbooks, literature and methodological materials in their native language. At the same time, in Crimea, two universities (CFU and CEPU) annually graduate specialists in their native language and literature, and there is no personnel shortage. Therefore, some school administrations have resorted to outright lies to prevent the child from receiving education in their native language. Parents, not having sufficient legal knowledge, trusting the principal or headteacher of the school, sign statements with the wording “I don’t choose studies in mother tongue and literature for my child”.
Given the above violations of the rights of the child, as well as other cases that are in Russia, it should be noted that the number of complaints against the Russian Federation on violations of the rights of the child in the practice of the European Court is small. It seems that there are several reasons for the rare appeal of children for the protection of their rights to the European Court.
In accordance with Russian law, a child acquires the right to independently appeal to the court to protect his rights at the age of 14 years. Prior to this, the child has the right to apply for the protection of his rights to the guardianship authorities.
Nevertheless, the independent appeal of a child to a local court, let alone the European Court, is difficult due to the need to know a specific judicial authority to file an application or complaint and draw up documents correctly. This point is crucial since it is impossible to appeal to the court again with this complaint.
As a rule, the interests of children in the European Court are represented by their parents, however, for objective reasons, the parents themselves cannot always see and realize that the state of the rights of their child has been grossly violated.
Prepared by lawyer Lenura ENGULATOVA