La-Strada-Ukraine: honour Ukraine’s commitments on protecting children


The International Women’s Human Rights Centre “La Strada – Ukraine” has issued a statement following the adoption by the Verkhovna Rada of amendments to the Criminal Code imposing criminal liability for possession of works, images or other items of a pornographic nature.

The law proposes criminalizing, together with other actions, possession of pornographic material, with Article 301 § 1 to read: “Bringing into Ukraine works, images or other items of a pornographic nature order to sell or circulate it, or its preparation, possession, transportation or other movement for the same purpose, or their sale or circulation, as well as forcing people to take part in creating it – shall be punishable by a fine of from fifty to one hundred times the minimum wage, or imprisonment for up to six months, or restriction of liberty for up to three years, with confiscation of the pornographic items and means of production and circulation.” According to the explanatory note, the changes are in order to fulfil international legal commitments made by Ukraine in ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

The La-Strada-Ukraine Centre endorses the need to bring Ukraine’s legislation into line with the requirements of this Optional Protocol which introduces the concept of child pornography and directs participating States to prohibit specifically child pornography, as well as the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime.

Article 2 of the Optional Protocol calls on participating States to ensure that the production, distribution, dissemination, importing, exporting, sale or possession for the above purposes of child pornography are covered by criminal law. The Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, ratified by Ukraine in 2006, and the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, signed by Ukraine in 2007, but not yet ratified, go further and demand that participating States criminalize the production of child pornography for the purpose of dissemination, offering or making available child pornography, distributing or transmitting it, procurement and possession.

The above norms from international documents show that Ukrainian legislation does indeed need to be changed with regarding to the criminalization of actions linked with child pornography in order to bring it into line with international legislation. However the above-mentioned international documents say nothing about criminalizing pornographic material in general, only child pornography.

We are therefore firmly convinced that in the present form, the amendments to Article 301 of the Criminal Code, passed by the Verkhovna Rada on 11 June 2009, do not fulfil this task.

We call on the President to veto this law, and for the Deputies of the Verkhovna Rada to return to the question of agreeing national legislation with the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other documents which protect children’s rights.

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