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30.12.2011

Curfews for minors will only foster bribe-taking

   

 

An ever increasing number of Ukrainian regions are considering whether to impose restrictions on the movement of teenagers in the late evening and night hours. Human rights activists are critical of such methods for “fighting” juvenile crime.

In a number of regions, young people under 16 cannot appear on the streets or in public places between 22.00 and 5 a.m.  If they are detained by police, their parents well have to pay hefty fines of a few thousand UAH. Such local measures have already been passed in Simferopol, as well as the Mykolaiv, Khmelnytski and Zhytomyr regions. Similar plans are being considered in Kyiv, Lviv and Kharkiv.

Human rights activist, Oleksandr Syrota believes that the authorities are simply trying to offload the responsibility for street crime onto parents and says that these measures cannot fight crime. He sees much more benefit in creating additional opportunities for young people to spead their free time usefully, such as sports clubs and creative groups.

Kharkiv Human Rights Group lawyer Aigul Mukanova sees no legal basis for imposing such curfew hours, which she says make sense in times of war or a state of emergency where you need to help people and protect them.

She considers it unacceptable to infringe the constitutional norm on non-interference in private and family life, as well as the right to freedom of movement. She warns against “flagrant” violation of the European Charter on the Rights of the Child.

Oleksandr Syrota knows from his own experience that a fair number of police officers could not explain what children’s rights are. He says that neither deputies nor law enforcement officers are taught this.

Human rights activists warn that such restrictions could foster bribe-taking, and say they know of many examples of corrupt setups where police officers, often on questionable grounds, detain teenagers, draw up protocols which they then destroy on receiving “financial assistance” from the kids’ parents. Both Syrota and Maigul say that curfews will make it easier to make money out of young people in such ways. 

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