Open letter to St. Petersburg ombudsman on children’s rights

Dear Mrs. Agapitova,

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), non-governmental international organization with consultative status at the United Nations Organization and the Council of Europe, which has 178 member organizations worldwide, and its affiliates ADC “Memorial” and “Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan” call for your assistance to end systematic violations of the rights of children, mothers and pregnant women – victims of a brutal and illegal judicial practices, which are being used in Russia for expulsion of foreign citizens and stateless persons, but are in violation of Russian and international laws. Pregnant women are placed into centers for detention of foreign nationals, mothers are separated from their small children, children are deported from the country separately from their parents.

This practice has already led to some tragedies. On October 14, 2015 in St. Petersburg a 5-month-old baby, Umarali Nazarov, died after being separated from his mother and father – Tajik citizens, who were judged to be violators of the Russian migration regulations. Despite public outcry and involvement of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan and the Russian Federation that followed, it must be ensured that proper investigation is carried out in order to establish which officials of the Federal Migration Service and the police were responsible for this tragedy, who took the mother and child out of their home, who illegally seized the boy from his nursing mother in the local police department while he was still alive and well and later informed the family of his death.

However, the death of Umarali Nazarov is not the sole example of how the existing order of expulsion violates the rights of children and mothers.

According to the information received by the FIDH, on September 7, 2015 the officers of the Federal Migration Service detained Dilafruz Nabotova, a citizen of Uzbekistan, who at the time of detention was in the 40th week of pregnancy. Together with her two young children – 8-year-old Sarvarbeka and 7-year-old Mahbuba Nabotova – were detained, they were later separated from their mother and sent to orphanage “Transit”, where there are being held at the moment. Two weeks after detention on September 20, Dilafruz Nabotova gave birth to a son in the hospital №16, after that she and her son were sent back to St. Petersburg center for detention of foreign nationals. On October 15, 2015 Dilafruz Nabotova was expelled from the country with her newborn son. However, her two children, who had been separated from their mother for nearly two months, are still held in the orphanage “Transit”, waiting for the paperwork and expulsion process to be completed and them being expelled from Russia accompanied by the orphanage staff.

We are of the opinion that this practice violates the Russian and international human rights standards, in particular:

During the detention young children have been illegally separated from their mother and are still awaiting deportation separately from their parents. In accordance with Articles 9 and 10 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is prohibited to separate children from parents against their will, such separation is possible only on the basis of a court decision; the state is obliged to consider cases related to the entry and exit from its territory in a positive, humane and effective manner. Moreover, Article 54 of the Russian Family Code was violated, which establishes the right of the child to ensure his interests, all-round development and respect for human dignity.

Russian Code on administrative violations prohibits administrative detention of pregnant women and mothers of children up to 14 years (Article 3.9 Section 2 of the Administrative Code). At the same time women – foreign nationals, who were subject to a ruling on deportation, are being detained and placed into detention centers for foreign nationals without taking into account the presence of their children and/or their pregnancy. This is discrimination against women, who are not citizens of the Russian Federation and is a violation of the Russian Constitution, which establishes equal rights for both its citizens and non-citizens.

Detention centers for foreign nationals are not up to minimal requirements for stay of pregnant women, children and especially pregnant women and nursing mothers with babies – they are not equipped with dining rooms, places for regular walks, games room, libraries, the detained do not receive necessary medical care, detention centers are overcrowded. In addition, there is a problem of absence of periodic judicial review of the period of arrest in detention centers for foreign nationals, despite the fact that people there can be detained there for a period of up to 2 years. Although this was officially recognized to be a violation of Article 5 Section 1F of the European Convention on Human Rights in the legal case of “Kim v. Russia” on July 17, 2014 and although the European Court for Human Rights (ECtHR) obliged the government of the Russian Federation to take measures of a general nature, so far there was no improvement in this respect.

In addition to this, other constitutional provisions that guarantee support and protection for families, motherhood, fatherhood and childhood, the rights, freedoms and civil and legal protection against discrimination, including those related to family life based on respect for the dignity of the individual (Article 7, Article 17 Section 1, Article 19 Sections 1 and 2, Article 21 Section 1, Article 38 Sections 1 and 2, Article 45 Section 1, Article 46 Sections 1 and 2) are being violated by this practice.

Systematic violation of the rights of pregnant women, young children and their mothers, who are being placed in temporary detention centers for foreign nationals for administrative violations of the rules of stay in Russia requires an immediate response.

We call on you to assess current practices and their compliance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation and other Russian and international regulations, as well as to contribute to its immediate review.

It is necessary to stop placing pregnant women and mothers of children up to 14 years in detention centers for foreign nationals. If, however, detention of women is deemed necessary, the institutions where they are being held, should be designed similar to rehabilitation centers, where there are conditions for stay with children. The practice of seizing children during the course of administrative proceedings, separation of children from their family and expulsion of children separately from their parents, must be immediately stopped too.

Best regards,

Karime Lahidji, President of FIDH
Stefania Kulayeva, head of ADC “Memorial”
Tolekan Ismailova, Chairman of the board of “Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan”

Открытое_письмо_Уполномоченной по правам ребенка_Агапитовой С.Ю