In 2017, at the initiative of a number of human rights organizations, a resolution № 268 “On approval of the Procedure for granting the status of a child affected by hostilities and armed conflicts” was developed and then – adopted.
According to this document, such a status can be obtained by a child or a person who has not reached the age of majority (18 y. o.) at the time of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) /Joint Forces Operation (JFO) in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and who as a result of hostilities and armed conflicts:
- received injuries, contusions, injuries;
- suffered physical and sexual violence;
- was abducted or illegally taken out of Ukraine;
- involved in the actions of paramilitary or armed groups;
- illegally detained, including in captivity;
- suffered psychological violence.
As of the end of 2020, more than 52,000 children, including the 93 children who have received this status due to injuries and contusions, and one child that has been physically abused.
The numbers are impressive. But, unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The fact is that most parents of children who could receive this status simply do not know about this opportunity or do not see the need for it as it does not provide the opportunity to receive benefits – neither the provision of qualified psychosocial assistance, nor the provision of free medicines.
In addition, as our experience shows, there are many cases of local authorities refusing to grant this status and even revoking it. We have few examples of this as our team has been working with such cases.
At the end of 2020, the monitoring team of the Mariupol office of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) revealed a systematic violation of the rights of minors in the Nikolsky district of the Donetsk region. The violation was the illegal and unjustified revocation of the status of a child affected by hostilities and armed conflict.
R2P Lawyer Ruslan Bereteli commented on this case:
“When I received this case for analysis and testing, I immediately realized that the situation requires prompt intervention, and the work promises to be difficult, but at the same time interesting as it was the first time I have encountered such a violation. And the systemic nature of the problem required active, I would even say aggressive interventions. The violation did not allow children to enjoy the benefit of the free meals, so it was necessary to respond as soon as possible.”
Colleagues immediately began to initiate meetings with everyone who could help and influence the situation. In this case, the director of the Nikolsky Center for Social Services for Families, Children and Youth was the only one who disagreed with the current state of affairs. However, we also had an ally in the Department of Social Protection of the Donetsk Region – its director is always a reliable partner in restoring justice for cases of violated human rights, she properly considers such appeals within her competence.
After all the meetings we agreed on the algorithms of cooperation and response. In addition, we asked the head of the Donetsk Regional State Administration to intervene in the situation, sending him a letter with a description and the legal analysis of the problem.
A representative of the Commissioner for the Observance of the Rights of the Child and the Family of the Secretariat of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine was also involved in solving the problem.
The result of the cooperation was a letter to the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the opening of proceedings on this issue (the case was in the process of regional representation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions).
The advocacy team of the Charitable Fund ”Right to Protection” was actively involved. Our colleagues worked with the Department for the Protection of Children’s Rights and Ensuring Equality Standards of the State Social Service of Ukraine.
They issued a sufficient number of appeals to the service, appealed and involved deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in the process. All this was the reason for submitting an official request from the People’s Deputy of Ukraine to respond and investigate the activities of the above mentioned children protection service.
Finally, the order of the head of the Mariupol Regional State Administration revoked the orders which illegally revoked the status of children, affected by hostilities and armed conflicts.
R2P congratulates everyone involved in this victory!