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Kharkiv Human Rights Group Social Networking



21. Children’s rights

[1]

General overview. This section offers a general overview of children’s rights observance in education, health care, right to recreation, health improvement and physical development, participation in the   social life, protection from violence and cruel treatment, access to information and social services, as well as of institutional guarantees stipulated by public policy with respect to children’s right protection, international cooperation etc. According to the conclusions of national and international experts and UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Ukrainian legislation addressing the rights of child still fails to meet the provisions of the international treaties, and, first of all, of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Facultative protocols.  The state policy treats a child not as a subject of his/her rights, but only as an object of protection. Many legal norms with respect to the children’s rights remain declarative; not all the children’s rights stipulated by Constitution are supported by relevant laws. As a result, many problems arise at the level of laws’ interpretation and formulation of the state policy in this area.     

International cooperation plays significant role in the formation and implementation of the state policy concerning protection of children. In 2013 Ukraine headed the OSCE. The agreement with UN UNICEF Children’s Fund was signed and now is being implemented. The Plan of Action “Ukraine – Council of Europe” for the years 2011-2014[2], approved in 2011, and launched in the second half of 2013, envisages the implementation of the project addressing protection of children’s rights. The Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Social Policy, the Ministry of Interior, Supreme Rada Ombudsman, local state administrations, Supreme Rada Committee for the families, young adults, sports and tourism, social services centers for families, children and young adults and NGOs are the main partners in the project. The goal of the project is promoting and strengthening the protection of human rights by preventing violence against children, including sexual exploitation and sexual abuse; promoting Guidelines on child-friendly justice[3]. All-Ukrainian network against commercial sexual exploitation of children is functioning in Ukraine. The organization is the member of ECPAT International (“End child prostitution, child pornography and  trafficking of children for sexual purposes”). Public organizations have partnerships with organizations in other countries working for the protection of children’s rights. “La Strada-Ukraina” center is an associate member of the International network “Child HelpLine International”.

 On January 1, 2013 a nation-wide child help “hot line” started its operation under “La Strada-Ukraina” center. In the course of the year it has provided 18575 consultations, 92.9 % of which were offered to children. 7.1% phone calls were made by the adults concerned about children-related issues, 58.4% calls came from girls, and 41.6% calls – from boys. This statistics from the child help “hot line” is, apart from the research in the area, the only source of information about the real needs of children and violations of their rights. The available database allows collecting, counting and analyzing the data in compliance with the international requirements and standards, defined by the International association of the “hot lines” for children. So, 21.2 % of the calls address the relations with peers, about  16 % deal with mental health issues(often related to the facts of mental violence),   12 % – sex education, 8.2% – issues related to school and family, 5.3 % – legal issues, 4.1% – bullying (persecution, threatening), 2.9 % – violence and cruel treatment, 4 % – discrimination of various types etc.

The nation-wide child help “hot line” is a powerful instrument providing information and consultations for the children. However, despite numerous appeals to the Ministry of Social Policy, “round tables” and consultations with NGOs and UNICEF Children’s Fund in Ukraine, this initiative was not supported by the state that decided to set up its own “hot line” for children in 2014 (one of the projects suggested it should be formed on the basis of the Governmental call-center), demanding over 11 million UAH from the state budget for the launching of the project. The existing “hot line”, which has the necessary experience, requires 5 times less in terms of funding. This fact demonstrates not only inefficiency in spending tax-payers’ money, but also official attitude towards the institutions of civil society, discrepancy between words and deeds, characteristic of power bodies.  

Children’s right to participate in decision-making processes. In the current situation of social and political crisis, when fundamental human rights are brutally violated and children bear witness to these violations, the children’s right to participate in the decision-making directly affecting them is completely neglected. Children’s participation means an opportunity to influence the process, demand changes and change in the process; it is the manifestation of involvement in the future destiny of the country, its citizens and humanity as a whole. Under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child this participation is a moral and legal right of all the children; it is conscious, voluntary and cannot be forced upon a child.

Referring to the persons of 15-18 years of age we mean children and their participation in socially important events. And this is logical and “efficient form of socialization in the democratic society as well as an indicator of an active civil stand of the young generation and a specific factor of the personal development”[4]. Collaborating with the adults children sharpen their communication, skills of finding their way in the complex information space of modern times, learn to share responsibility for the decisions made. Meanwhile, the events which took place in Kiev in late November-early December of 2013, including bloody breaking up of the students’ peaceful demonstrations, revealed the government’s attitude to the young people, who had taken to the streets and squares to protest against the government’s refusal to sign the association agreement on European integration. There they had to face brutal violation of their rights, violence and cruelty. Children at home observed on TV the violence against other young citizens, right at the time of the international action “16 days without violence”, in which Ukraine participated.

Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates participation guaranteed by the state, of the children capable of formulating their opinions and the right to voice these opinions. The young people (persons between 15 and 25 years) “are the main human resource to develop positive social changes and technological innovations. Ideals, energy and broad vision of the young play central role in the process of progressive movement of the human communities”[5]. The experts’ and NGOs’ observations as well as the analysis of the calls received by the nation-wide child help “hot line” show that children’s point of view is not taken into account by the country leadership (ultimately, the adults’ opinion is disregarded as well). This state of things aggravated at the time of the social crisis. Inefficient information policy chosen by mass-media governed by power bodies creates the information vacuum which is hard to fill. Lack of reliable information interpreting Kiev events and reasons for peaceful confrontation at schools breeds social apathy and alienation of the young people from social activity, as well as the increased level of internal aggression manifested in relations with peers, within the families, schools, in the streets etc. Some teenagers identify themselves with “Berkut”, which, in their opinion “is given free hand by the power, to do as they please”, and copy their aggressive and violent behavior.    Other kids, on the contrary, developed lack of confidence and increased anxiety level, as they are afraid that unwarranted violence can be used against them. Significant number of children started identifying themselves with Ukraine, developed interest to the national symbols, history of public action etc. This latter is a positive moment, considering that no earlier educational or patriotic events managed to kindle this interest. 

Excerpts from the calls to the Nation-wide child help “hot line”

“Hi, I am”Berkut”. Can I give you a good mugging?” – laughter. Several calls. Boys.

“What is Maydan about? Do you go to Maydan? Why are people standing there?”  – A boy from Poltava oblast’.

“Is it true that militiamen are beating people in Maydan?”– a boy.

“Is it true that Maydan will last long?”– a boy.

“Is Maydan in Kiev? Are you attending?” – a boy and a girl.

Legislative developments. The Ministry of Social Policy by its order # 65 of 15.02.2013 set up an interdepartmental working group to analyze the recommendations received by Ukraine, based on the final conclusions of the European committee of the CE on social rights with respect to realization of p. 10 of article 7 “Right of children and teenagers to protection” of the European social charter (revised). The group united representatives from the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Social Policy, the Ministry of Interior, Supreme Rada Ombudsman for human rights, Ombudsman for children’s rights, “La Strada-Ukraina” center. Over the period between February and November of 2013 the legal department of the Center, operating within the framework of the working group, elaborated and submitted recommendations on national legislation amendments for protection of children against sexual exploitation; attended 3 group meetings and a seminar on implementation of the provision of the European social charter (revised). The amended provisions were not formaulated in 2013 as the state power and NGOs could not reconcile their positions. “La Strada-Ukraina” Center stand and recommendations were presented at the hearings of the Committee on social policy and labor “On implementation of the European social charter (revised) in Ukraine” which took place on November 20, 2013.  

The expert working group for legislative amendments in the area of protection of children against trafficking, child pornography, child prostitution and sexual abuse resumed its operation in summer 2013. Cooperation with the deputies of Supreme Rada of the 7th convocation was established, specifically, with the Committee for human rights protection, ethnic minorities and inter-ethnic relations. With UNICEF support Ukrainian legislation was amended further, new draft law stipulating protection of children against sexual exploitation was devised and should be registered in 2014.

Starting November Ç, 2013 the activity aimed at harmonizing national Ukrainian legislation with the provisions of Facultative protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in the section related to children’s trafficking, children’s prostitution and pornography was resumed, with the help of UNICEF and “La Strada-Ukraina” Center. The project envisages legislation amendments and assessment of the enforcement of the Law of Ukraine “On the State Program “National Action Plan for the realization of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child till 2016” as well as concluding observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child with respect to Ukraine, based on results of the evaluation of its regular report for 2011.

Children’s right to fair justice and the development of juvenile justice. To ensure the uniform administering of the criminal procedural norms and to avoid ambiguous interpretation of the law in the course of criminal inquest involving minors the Highest specialized court of Ukraine for civil and criminal cases on July 18, 2013 issued a letter #223-1134/0/4-13[6]. The letter is accompanied by the Instruction on the order of submitting the report on the juvenile delinquent in the criminal inquest involving minors.  

Under the Minstry of Education and Science order # 176 of 21.02.2013 “On approving the action plan for prevention of infringements committed by children and cruel treatment of them” the educational institutions took some steps spelled out in p. 4.7 of the plan. However, these steps were sporadic, and only activists could organize respective events. In 2013 the preventive visiting of children, registered in the internal affairs bodies, in their homes, schools and work-places was planned. The individual preventive work, as well as putting an end to cruel treatment of these children had to be the goal of these visits. So far no report has been submitted.   

Meanwhile, the members of the so-called “anti-juvenile” movements remain proactive, disseminating false information on the juvenile justice system and scaring Ukrainian population. No information campaign on the essence and advantages of the juvenile justice has been organized either by the Ministry of Justice or the Department for families and children under the Ministry of Social Policy in 2013. The information vacuum is filled only by sporadic actions organized by the human rights organizations or international institutions.

Thus, a Ukrainian-Canadian project “Reforming of the criminal justice system with respect to the minors in Ukraine” has been operating in Ukraine since 2010, actively assisting governmental bodies in the implementation of the child-friendly criminal justice system. The project contributes to the development of the legislation and policy in the criminal justice system with respect to minors. Regular training and upgrading of the professionals dealing with children in conflict with the law, specifically, of judges, militia staff, and penitentiary institutions’ workers, social services specialists (i.e. services for children and social services centers for the families, children and young adults) are conducted within the framework of the project. The project also helps in devising and implementing of the models for dealing with juvenile delinquents at the local level, as well as initiatives aimed at more efficient crime prevention, based on the international standards of juvenile justice systems.[7] In particular, a model of a visiting center for juvenile offenders is being set up. This model was first implemented in Melitopol by the workers of the local criminal-executive inspection and social services center for the families, children and young adults. After analyzing the pilot testing results State penitentiary service of Ukraine on August 28, 2013 passed an Order #488/ÎD-13 “On promoting the activities within the framework of the project “Reforming of the criminal justice system with respect to the minors in Ukraine” in which it recommended the creation of such centers in Ivano-Frankivsk (in 2013), Zaporizhzhya, Mariupol and Kiev (in 2014). A documentary “Children behind the bars” was created within the framework of the project. The program “Researcher” for the secondary school students was launched. It allows the students familiarizing themselves with basics of law-enforcement activity and scouting and is aimed at encouraging interaction between militia, students and other community members. The “Researcher” program is a part of a broader initiative aimed at improving collaboration between militia and educational institutions in order to prevent infringements.[8] Pilot program started in Ivano-Frankivsk. This program meets directly the task of “enhancing preventive work to end crime among children” stated in the national action plan.

Besides, the all-Ukrainian “Volunteer” public center conducts preventive and correctional activities with children inside the penitentiary system.[9] “Children’s rights in Ukraine” coalition conducted an above-mentioned monitoring of the observance of rights of children in remand.  

Mass media divulged the information concerning law violations committed by the militiamen in the course of children’s detention and administrative custody. In particular, in some cases children were kept in a cell with adult felons. The sanitary norms were not observed with regards to children in custody.[10]

Children trafficking and right to freedom from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. The issue of children’s trafficking remains relevant for Ukraine. It is addressed in detail in the respective section of the report. 

The analysis of 2013criminal cases addressing the protection of children from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse shows that investigators and judges lack appropriate knowledge in this domain, are not aware of international standards for protection of children, methodology of conducting the interviews etc. That is why these cases are not resolved and the majority of offenders go unpunished, while the level of protection of children remains low.  In 2013 “La-Strada-Ukrainacontinued providing secondary legal assistance to 7 children-victims of sexual exploitation perpetrated by individuals unknown to them, and of sexual, psychological and physical domestic violence. In one of the cases involving sexual exploitation of the children (production of children’s pornography) the court of the first instance passed a verdict, sentencing 3 men guilty of child corruption and production and dissemination of children’s pornography to three years in prison.

Since 2011 the Center has been monitoring the case of a young boy, sexually abused by his own father. The Center attorneys provide legal assistance in the criminal inquest. The inquest is conducted with a lot of procedural violations, which leads to temporizing and prevarications in ensuring boy’s protection against his father’s criminal actions. Referring to the provisions of the CE Convention on protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, stipulating that if parents are involved in children’s sexual abuse, the state has the right to remove the potential perpetrator, the Center attorneys managed to provide secondary legal assistance in the claim of deprivation of parental rights. The court deliberations on the case still go on.

Children’s labor.  In 2012 an Internet site “Job for the schoolchildren” (teenjobs.com.ua) started its operation. It offers the list of vacancies and CVs of children over 12. All the personal data and photos are accessible without parental consent. The children post their resumes, expressing their will to work at any jobs with average salaries of 30-50 UAH per day. The site also posts the children’s complaints that they had not been paid the sum agreed upon. The NGOs, including “La Strada-Ukraina” Center, requested due inspection, which had been started by the law-enforcement bodies.   However, as of November 2013 the site was still active, with children offering their services and employers offering available jobs.

Education, including pre-school and extracurricular activities. Child’s right to education is reflected in articles 28 and 29 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Child, under which the state is responsible for providing free and compulsory primary education, for promoting child’s development; ensuring availability of higher education, relevant information, studying materials etc. In its concluding observations the UN Committee for the rights of the child expressed its concern with the fact that reduction in numbers of the children of school age in the entire population leads to the reduction in number of educational institutions, especially in rural areas, and also complicates accessibility of education for the children residing in the rural areas, Roma children and children with special needs. The Committee specifically pointed out the decrease in the number of preschool institutions, so that currently only 61% of children at pre-school age attend them. The Committee also stressed inadequate funding of education.

Over the first half of the year 2013 the Ombudsman for the rights of the child received the information from almost all the regions of Ukraine on the reduction of number of students, closing or threat of closing of over 30 institutions of extracurricular studies. The Ministry of Finance of Ukraine issued a letter # 31-05030-10-5/2514 of January 2013, containing a range of proposals, realization of which can lead to mass closing of schools for children aesthetic education, reduction in number of children attending extracurricular educational institutions.   These proposals were made public through mass media and caused rather negative public response.

Assessment of extracurriculae education in Ukraine seems a most difficult task. As of today accurate data reflecting the situation in the extracurricular network, e.g. the number of children attending the institutions, is missing. Each ministry (of education and science, of culture, of the young adults and sports) has its own departmental statistics, while summarized nationwide data reflecting main tendencies in this area are not available. The information on how many children go in for extracurricular activities offered by private entrepreneurs outside extracurricular centers is also missing. The situation with extracurricular education varies depending on the region. By early 2013 the share of children covered by extracurricular education varied from 28.1% in Transcarpathian oblast’ to 92.7% in Kiev oblast’. This difference is accounted for, first of all, by the flaws in the system of funding of extracurricular educational institutions. Under the Budget Code of Ukraine expenses for the maintenance of extracurricular educational centers should be covered by some portion of local budgets’ revenues, not taken into account in the calculations of inter-budgetary transfers.

Creating equal conditions for the children’s rights protection means equal treatment of all children irrespective of what school they go to. According to the report of the Ombudsman for the rights of the child, the system of operation of the educational institutions, especially of boarding schools, is built on concealing the cases of child abuse and mutual cover-ups. Special attention should be paid to this problem in the future.

The National trainers’ network has largely contributed to the legal education of children, having organized 3285 events for 103689 students in 2013. The topics chosen for discussion included counteracting human trafficking – 35 %, fight against violence– 20 %, children’s rights protection – 17 %, men’s and women’s rights– 13 % and others[11]. In 2013 an international campaign “Two little girls” aimed at protecting children from human trafficking, was launched in Ukraine.[12].

The year 2013 was declared the year of children’s creativity[13]. According to the report of the Ombudsman for the rights of the child[14], on March 7, 2013 the Head of the State made public new social initiatives “Children – the future of Ukraine”[15], in which he identified the priority areas of local and central bodies’ operation aimed at creating favorable conditions for comprehensive development of each and every child. Notwithstanding, no additional target funds for the modernization, development or opening of the new extracurricular centers have been allocated by the government. The problem is that a lot of interest study groups, especially with high quality of coaching and high level of popularity, not only require certain fees, but become a serious financial burden for the parents.  

“Dance classes in a dance group operating in a Kiev school cost over 400 UAH a month. The lessons are interesting, the coach is a professional. She prepared the group for the participation in the competitions and festivals.  But, under Ukrainian tradition, each kid’s appearance in an act of a competition or festival program costs 100 UAH, and this tariff likely does not depend on the number or children appearing in a given act.   So we want our child to participate, but every time we consider whether she should appear in one or two dances, because it is becoming pretty costly. It goes without saying that all the travel expenses are covered by us. Same applies to stage costumes. We have no complaints against the group coach; quite on the contrary, we respect her and are grateful to her. But what kind of extra-school activities are these, if one has to pay one third of one’s monthly living cost? Why these expenses are not included into the consumer’s basket?”

School has introduced the system of payments for learning through the charity funds. The payment is compulsory. And we are talking about public school! Everyone knows [the truthe]about the funds, but refusal to pay can lead to the child’s expulsion from school”.

From the call to the “La Strada-Ukraina” hot line.

Inclusive education. The access of children with limited capacities to education still remains a problem. As of today, about 2 thousand pre-school educational establishments serve the children with special needs in Ukraine. They operate mainly as compensatory and combined institutions (sanatoria, specialized schools) where alongside with learning children can get adjustment and rehabilitation services.  It is noteworthy, however, that disabled children are not served properly in the rural areas due to almost complete absence of specialized preschool facilities (i.e. of compensatory type).[16] The studies of the inclusive education in Ukraine have shown that currently only 11% of the Ukrainian schools are partially fit for “special” students. Even lesser portion of the learning facilities meets the safety norms and allow for unrestricted getting around – they lack the required ramps, elevators, special hygiene rooms, doors, furniture and lighting.[17]

Under statistical data, 58 586 children with special needs attended comprehensive secondary schools in 2012/2013 school year. The relevant provision of the National plan of action for the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child concerning inclusive education does not receive full state funding.[18] Meanwhile, under the new social initiatives proposed by the President of Ukraine V.Yanukovych, stipulating providing handbooks, including those in Braille alphabet, for the children with impaired vision, additional 10 million UAH had to be allocated from the state budget of Ukraine in 2013. No measures for children’s rights protection are stipulated by the National plan of action for the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child for 2014.  Hence, the tasks addressing inclusive education expansion were not fully realized.  The parents who had not rejected their afflicted children are denied the right to have their child attending the “regular” schools or kindergartens, thus forcing them to send their children to the special boarding-type   institutions.

Certain positive changes became possible due to the funding provided by donors. The Canadian-Ukrainian project “Inclusive education for children with special needs in Ukraine”[19] (5 million Canadian dollars) allowed to devise legal base for the inclusive education and to organize two resource centers for inclusive education in Lviv and Crimea regions, to publish methodological handbooks.  The Centers position themselves as state and public entities, ruled by the Board representing all the stakeholders – schools, boarding-type facilities, medical professionals, administration, although the majority of votes, i.e. over 50% belongs to parents and individuals with special needs. The Center can help parents in locating and accessing the available support to satisfy social, psychological, physical and communicative needs of their child; provide information resources for the teachers, service providers and parents; assist in parents – state interaction.  

The “Renaissance” foundation funded hundreds of trainings for the education professionals, devising of inclusive education curricula for kindergartens and primary schools. As a result, the Ministry of Education and Science passed an order # 1034 of   23.07.2013 “On approval of measures for the implementation of inclusive education in the pre-school and secondary educational establishments till the year 2015”, which stipulates the summarizing of the prior expertise in the area, the beginning of training for the teachers and introducing the systematic consultations and explanations for education professionals, parents and public at large with respect to right to education for children with special needs.                  [20]

The child’s right to health improvement and recreation.  The valid Law of Ukraine “On health improvement and recreation for children” spells out main principles of the state policy with respect to the children’s health improvement and recreation; competencies of the executive bodies and local self-governments; legal, financial and organizational principles for setting up and operation of the facilities for health improvement and recreation for children; rights, duties and responsibilities of all the players involved.  The Directive of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine # 2056-ð November 3, 2010 approved the Concept of the State target social program for health improvement and recreation for children till 2015, which was invalidated with Directive of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine # 549-ð of May 15, 2013, which  approved the Concept of the State target social program for health improvement and recreation for children and development of network of facilities for children’s health improvement and recreation  for the period till 2017.

Conducted analysis of the certification of the children’s facilities for health improvement and recreation demonstrated that their inadequate material and technical condition prevents them from meeting modern requirements and providing high quality services for children for health improvement. Therefore, these facilities are gradually shut down.  The state properties like “Artek international children’center” and “Moloda gvardia” Ukrainian children’s center” and their infrastructure need renovations with enhancement of resources’ use efficiency, and modernizations in line with the requirements of educational, training, cultural programs and projects under implementation.  As of today practically no new facilities for children’s health improvement and recreation are being built, while existing institutions are not renovated and therefore cannot operate properly. There are no relevant facilities where children of 4 to 6 years of age, unable to care for themselves, can be accompanied by their parents or legal guardians; the same is true of the children with special needs.

On April 3, 2013 Parliamentary hearings on the issues of health improvement and recreation for children and youth were held[21]. According to the quoted figures, the number of children’s institutions constituted 17 973, including 784 health improvement facilities and 17 189 recreation facilities operated over the season of 2012, with 11 facilities having resumed their operation. The State registry for the children’s facilities of health improvement and recreation was compiled and updated. As of January 1, 2013 the registry comprised 568 children’s institutions, including: 112 public enterprises, 131 communal enterprises and 325 private facilities. At the same time, it should be stressed that this registry still needs finalizing. Summarily, about 1.8 billion UAH was spent for children’s health improvement in 2012, money coming both from the local budgets and extra-budget funds; over 2.8 million children enjoyed health improvement programs and organized recreation, which makes up for 68.9% of the entire population of school-age children in Ukraine. The Supreme Rada resolution # 678-VII of November 5, 2013 approved the Recommendations of the Parliamentary hearings.

It is easy to calculate that expenses per child amounted to a bit more than 640 UAH per year. The negative dynamics of decrease in number of in-patient children’s preventive care institutions and inappropriate use of facilities were registered.  

A child’s right to sports. The state power bodies passed a number of regulatory and legal documents aimed at promoting physical development of children and young adults. In particular, The Presidential Decree # 344/2013 “On National strategy for the development of education in Ukraine till the year 2021”[22] addressed the issues of physical development. In particular, lack of comprehensive system of moral, physical and spiritual upbringing and children’s and youth’s socialization were pointed out as an acute problem which needs to be dealt with in the nearest future.  The priority tasks have been set: increasing the scope of physical training in the secondary schools by introducing more PT lessons, disseminating mass sports and physical culture promotion in the extracurricular activities; renovations of physical training facilities for individual and mass sports (expanding the network of sport groups, sections and clubs with guaranteed funding, staffing and material-technical support); introducing innovative approaches to physical training of children and young adults, including valeology component at all stages of training and upbringing of children with different psychical and learning abilities.

In 2013 the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine devised the draft law “On National social program for the development of physical culture and sports for the years 2013-2017”[23], and submitted it to the Supreme Rada. The draft law was accepted in the first reading on September 5, 2013. The majority of measures spelled out in the programs and documents, however, remain mere declarations.  

A child’s right to health care. Measures aimed at creating safe and favorable environment for the children’s development, preservation of their health and life. The State Committee for Statistics of Ukraine provides the following data for January-June 2013[24] - 1546 babies were still-born, which is 60 stillbirths less as compared to the same period of 2012. 1993 infants die before reaching the age of 1. The mortality rate among infants younger than 1 year decreased from 8.6% to 7.8% per 1000 live births.  Specific prenatal conditions, inborn developmental flaws, misformations and chromosome anomalies, external causes, infections and parasite-caused diseases, nervous system and respiratory system afflictions, circulation diseases were among main reasons of mortality among infants during their first year of life. The cause of death was not established for significant number of newborns– 4.6%.

The major health care problems include lack of high-lquality examination of a child with following objective diagnosis; serious lacks in material and technical base in helath care facilities; lack of due care for children with special needs etc. In 2013 the access to medical services for children in the rural areas remained restricted; while many people still could not afford medical services (the free services are insufficient or missing). Ombudsman for children’s rights in Ukraine pointed out in his report for January-June 2013 that the results of inspection had demonstrated inadequate level of children’s medical facililities’ material and technical base and soft medical supplies[25].

The state reports underline that compulsory preventive check-up for children below 18 is conducted in children’s outpatient clinics with their parents or legal representatives present.   Health care institutions introduce measure of counteracting iodine deficit, other preventive measures. Ministry of Healht of Ukraine in 2012 developed Conceptual foundations for the complex system of assistance to children sufferinf from rare diseases in Ukraine. They were approved by the Ministerial order #574 of 30.07.2012. Nevertheless, the Ombudsman for children’s rights points out in his report for January-June 2013 that Presidential Instructions # 1-1/2338, issued on August 30, 2012, concerning the measures for providing full-scope assistance to the children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and mucopolissacaridose in 2013, remain unfulfilled.[26]. Over the first half of 2013 more than 30 petitions from the parents of children suffering from rare diseases, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and mucopolissacaridose in particular, were submitted to the Ombudsman for children’s rights[27]. The system of care for children with cancer and rare diseases in Ukraine requires not only 100% funding, but also a range of consistent measures for the development of child oncology, which so far are being introduced very slowly[28].

“My child, a boy of 5, is sick. Yesterday he developed a fever of 400 C. We called for an ambulance, but were told no one would come, because we live in a remote settlement and they do not have enough fuel to reach us”.

“My child called for an ambulance when she had an appendicitis attack. She was told that it was just a practical joke on her part and no one reacted to it. When I came home from work my child was barely alive and suffering from severe pain. How can a health care institution be penalized for such neglect?”

“I live in a rural area. My child, a girl of 3, is very sick. She has flue with high fever. I do not have a car to take her to the hospital. I called for an ambulance but was told that they would not come because “the road is covered with snow”. They suggested I treat my girl at home, myself. How am I supposed to treat her? Do they want my child to die?”

From the calls to the National childen’s “hot line” under “La Strada-Ukraina”Center.

The measures planned by the Cabinet of Ministers within the framework of the national action plan for 2013 (and the same applies to previous years as well) do not include immunization, although this issue becomes more and more relevant. The parents ignore the importance of immunizations and refuse to have their children vaccinated; sometimes the needed vaccines are not available in Ukraine for six months in a row.

In 2011-2012 the publication of “Recommendations for parents with respect to preserving their children’s health” was planned, but not a single brochure dealt with immunization (vaccination) of a child. All the vaccines have to be licensed and undergo laboratory checks in the State expert center. The private clinics and doctors’ offices offer costly vaccines (Infantrix Gexa, Infantrix LPV etc), which are less allergenic, but with shelf-life limited to 10 years. AKDS vaccine, manufactured in Kharkiv is, under the experts assessments, reliable, durable (life warranty), but can cause serious allergic reaction at the time of second and third vaccination.  According to vaccination calendar, 10 are obligatory (TB, hepatitis B, whooping cough, diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles, rubella, epidemic parotitis, hemophilic infection). The vaccines are purchased by the Ministry of Health; they are all certified and vaccination is free.  7 more vaccinations are recommended against the following infections: chicken pox, hepatitis A, rothoviral pneumococchus infection, human papilome. These vaccines are purchased by the patients.[29] Rothoviral vaccines needed for infants within 6 months after birth, in 2013 could not be found even in the private clinics in Ukraine, the parents informed. Manufacturers from any country or distributors should submit their proposals for tender to the Ministry of Health, thus opeining the door for corruption. The medical workers are obliged to purchase vaccines manufadctured by certain companies, at increased prices. Meanwhile, the children without vaccinations will not be admitted to the   pre-school institutions. This regulation gives rise to another form of corruption – the parents are buying vaccination certificates. Each certificate costs 50-150 UAH[30].

Recommendations

The Supreme Rada of Ukraine should

1.      Ensure adequate State budget funding to provide medication, rehabilitation services and preventive care aimed at strengthening of the immune system for the children with special needs and serious diseases.

2.      Amend the legislation addressing education needs, in particular, the laws of Ukraine “On education” and “On comprehensive secondary education” with the clause on compulsory information concerning the rights of the child, prevention of crimes against children and highlighting their consequences, on risks of sexual exploitation and and sexual corruption; on   means of self-defense in accordance with children’s abilities depending on their age.

3.       Spell out the concept of “children’s prostitution” in the Law of Ukraine “On protection of childhood”.  

4.      Prepare changes and amendments to the Criminal procedural code of Ukraine with respect to: compulsory participation of a psychologist at all the stage of court proceedings involving children; free legal assistance to children who became victims or witnesses in a case and need help for the protection of their rights; obligaton of the pre-trial inquest body to reveal the information concerning  potential threat to the child’s safety if there is evidence that the child had become a victim to a crime, and to protect the child till he/she is classified as victim, irrespective of whether a petition or claim concerning the child’s safety was filed by the child himself or by another party; immediate serving of the materials containing the information of the crime perpetrated agains the child to the investigation department, and, for the period of investigation, to ensure adequate protective measures for the child if needed; special section in the Criminal procedural code of Ukraine regulating procedural steps that would meet the best interest of the child who had become a victim.

5.      Ratify the Hague Convention on the child’s protection and cooperation in respect of intercountry adoptions.

The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and central executive bodies should

6.      Elaborate the measures aimed at treating child pathologies, currently not treated in Ukraine; define an efficient mechanism for the required treatment of children in the medical facilities abroad and have them added to the Action plan of the Cabinet of Ministers.

7.      Devise the measures aimed at ensuring equal access of all women irrespective of their place of residence and social status to high quality OB-GYN services, creating conditions for safe deliveries, and have them added to the Action plan of the Cabinet of Ministers.

8.      The Ministry of Health of Ukraine should introduce additional measures for timely purchases and supply of medical preparations needed for children suffering from oncological and onco-hematological diseases; meet the need for the storage of these medications in public and private health care facilities, in accordance with requirements spelled out in the Presidential Decree #312 of June 1, 2013.  

9.      Use efficient measures for registering of the relevant medical drugs in Ukraine to ensure timely and uninterrupted supply of the needed medications for sick children.   

10.   Launch the nationwide information campaign on juvenile justice system for the Ukrainian population.

11.   Develop the mechanism of involving children in the decision-making process addressing the issues of childhood and children’s rights protection, including the mechanism of taking children’s opinions on the children’related issues into account.

12.   Develop and submit to the Surpeme Rada of Ukraine the draft law aimed at harmonizing the Ukrainian legislation with the clauses of the CE Convention on children’s protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. In particular, devise the provisions for complex prevention of children’s prostitution and children’s pornography; establish criminal liability for corrupting children by means of information/communication techonologies, introduce correction programs for individuals committing sexual crimes against children, rehabilitation of children who became victims of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse

13.   Launch broad awareness-raising campaign among Ukrainian population to address the adoptions’ confidentiality issues and amend the program of support for the adoptive parents with the information related to the confidentiality of adoptions.

14.   Conduct broad information campaigns on children’s rights; support the operation of the “hot line” addressing children’s rights.

15.  Carry out the audit of the children’s protection system, including, in particular, analysis of causes and scope of children’s stay in the boarding schools, reasons for children ending up in them, assessment of needs for social services for children and families within communities.

16.  Proceeding from the audit results and outcomes of the pilot models for social services for children and families, tested in Makariv raion,  Kiev oblast’ and Dnipropetrovsk raion, Dnipropetrovsk oblast’ develop a new state target program(or introduce amendments to existing Action Plan) stipulating closing or transforming of the existing boarding-type schools by way of returning children to the families or putting them in foster care; setting up family-oriented social services for children and families within communities, taking into consideration the needs of the said communities; training for professionals so that they could provide high-quality social services for children and families, in line with the new model of services providing; ensuring state budget funding of the new social services for children and families within communities, family-oriented upbringing, specifically, by allocating the resources which will become available after the closing of boarding-type institutions. Involve braod range of specialized NGOs into the process.     

17. Conduct a monitoring of the use of child’s labor in the shadowy and informal areas of economy or in the private households. Publicize respective statistics. Provide assistance for the children whose labor had been exploited.

The Supreme Court of Ukraine should

18.   Prepare the new resolution of the Supreme Court Plenum on administering the law on responsibility for sexual crimes against children.   

Oblast’, municipal and raion state administrations, local sef-governance bodies should

19.   Compile an inventory of material and technical equipment in the children’s hospitals and wards, in compliance with the Ministry of Health order # 140 of March 10, 2011 “On inventlry of material and technical equipment in the health care facilities”. The results of the inventory shall be reported at the collegiate meetings with subsequent identification of priority needs in funding and material and technical base of health care facilities providng care for children, medical devices, equipment, furniture, functional beds according to the inventory list.  

20.   The ARC Council of Ministers, oblast’, Kiev and Sebastopol municipal state administrations should ensure social support to every family with seriously afflicted child, in accordance with the requirements of the National strategy for prevention of social orphanhood for the period till 2020, approved by the Presidential Decree # 609 of October 22, 2012.

21.    Create specialized centers for social-psychological rehabilitation of children-victims of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.  

22.   Continue the setting up of the “green rooms” for questioning of children-victims of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, in the course of the criminal inquest.

23.   Ensure observance of children’s rights to education in the rural areas, with respect to Roma children, introduce inclusive education. Prevent illegal closing of secondary education institutions.  

24.  Guarantee adequated funding and public information on the issues of inclusive education.

NGOs and international organizations, donors, scientific and research centers should

25.   Define the concept of “sexual maturity” age in Ukraine, and spell out respective age of consent to sexual intercourse in Ukraine.

26.    Develop efficient set of methods for monitoring children’s rights violation in the comprehensive educational and boarding-type institutions and ensure viable mechanism of bringing officials guilty of violations to justice.  

27.    Introduce the system of monitoring of institutional facilities in order to protect rights of children staying in them.

 

[1] The section is prepared by the experts of International women’s rights Center “La Strada-Ukraina” K.Levchenko, N.Bochkor, M.Yevsyukova, L.Kovalchuk, M. Lehen’ka and V.Mudryk. The contributions from the NGOs: “Nadiya i zhytlo dla ditey” charity organization; “All-Ukrainian  LZHVnetwork”, “Shkola rivnykh mozhlyvostey” “A-Vesta”, All-Ukrainian network for counteraction to commercial sexual exploitation of children, International ECPAT organization, developed within the framework of  preparing  public report on realization of  “National Action plan on implementation in Ukraine of UN Convention on the rights of the child till 2016”, realized together with UNICEF mission in Ukraine  were used in the course of compiling this report,

[2] coe.kiev.ua

[3] Anticipated results and main steps. The governmental consideration of  UN and CE norms with respect to children’s rights, and, specifically, CE Convention on children’s protection from sexual exploitation and sexual corruption, on counteraction to human trafficking and cyber crimes has increased , alongside with intention of their viable implementation.    Child’s protection is becoming political priority. Actual National action plan and strategy. National legislation was harmonized with CE Convention on children’s protection from sexual exploitation and sexual corruption (CETS ¹ 201). The best interests of the child are considered in administering justice, in compliance with Guidelines on child-friendly justice. Main areas of operation: awareness-raising campaigns; providing relevant information, knowledge and methods of  preventing and counteracting sexual exploitation  for parents, children and specialists;  legal expertise; support in formulating and realization of National action plan; compiling of reports; comparative studies; analysis of outcomes and devising of  training materials; ensuring required training; organizing study tours to share best practices; consultations in setting up child-friendly shelters for children-victims of sexual corruption; development and implementation of rehabilitation programs for children subjected to domestic violence;  compiling data-base  of children-victims of sexual exploitation and of potential offenders, with respective tools for maintenance and operation of these data-bases;  developing standards for  services for children.

[4] N.Korpach. Specifics of children’s and youth’s participation in the social transformations:  web.znu.edu.ua

[5] dsmsu.gov.ua

[6] zakon2.rada.gov.ua

[7] youthjustice.org.ua

[8] youthjustice.org.ua

[9] www.volunteer.kiev.ua

[10] http://vinnitsaok.com.ua/na-vinnychchyni-u-sizo-nepovnolitnih-utrymuvaly-razom-iz-doroslymy-167475.html

[11] Detailed reports can be found on “La Strada – Ukraina” site  in the  “Reports” section “ - www.la-strada.org.ua

[12]Ukrainian version of the movie is available here: www.youtube.com.

[13] Presidential  Decree of December  28,  2012 zakon4.rada.gov.ua

[14] Ombudsman on the children’s rights report for the period of the first six months of 2013.   www.president.gov.ua

[15] www.president.gov.ua

[16] http://mlsp.kmu.gov.ua/document/156474/st.doc

[17] Study on inclusive education in Ukraine p.21³[17] timo.com.ua

[18] Study on inclusive education in Ukraine was conducted between June 2011 and 2012 by “European research association (ERA) together with research NGO InMind, “Democratic initiatives of the youth” and “Alisa” NGO with financial support from “Renaissance” foundation, p.15. timo.com.ua

[19] http://www.education-inclusive.com/ircs/

[20] zakon2.rada.gov.ua

[21]The Supreme Rada resolution # 678-VII  of November 5,  2013

[22] www.president.gov.ua

[23] w1.c1.rada.gov.ua

[24] www.ukrcensus.gov.ua

[25] www.president.gov.ua

[26] www.president.gov.ua

[27] Ibid.

[28] www.president.gov.ua

[29] Vaccination: do we have a choice?  corruptua.org

[30] From the parents’ calls to the National children’s “hot line”