Report of ADC Memorial and Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group to the UN CRC: violations of the rights of children deported from Ukraine by the Russian Federation

By the 95th session of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which will review compliance with the Convention by the Russian Federation, Anti-Discrimination Center Memorial Brussels (Belgium) and Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (Ukraine) submitted a report on violations of the rights of children taken from Ukraine to the territory of the Russian Federation or temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, as well as on the militarization of educational and leisure sector in Russia. Earlier, the Committee included these issues in the list addressed to the Russian authorities.

We are talking not only about children from institutions deprived of parental care, or those who for some reason found themselves unaccompanied at the time of deportation (children who were temporarily in “holiday camps”, or lost relatives as a result of military operations). The proportion of such children among those who found themselves in Russia is relatively small, they are especially vulnerable, and public attention is focused on them. However, the vast majority of children from Ukraine arrived in Russia together with their parents/ legal representatives, and there are, according to maximum estimates, more than 700 thousand of them. Besides, as a result of massive passportization in the period 2019-2021, about 750 thousand residents of the occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk regions were incorporated into Russian citizenship; in 2022, it was more than 300 thousand residents, and a large proportion of them were children.

The fact of existing parents/legal representatives does not mean that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and international humanitarian law have not been violated in relation to these children. It is important to emphasize that the decision to leave for Russia, voluntarily or not, was made by adults, and for a large number of children, especially older teenagers who have their own definite opinion, moving to Russia and being included in the school and public environment poisoned by anti-Ukrainian propaganda turned out to be extremely painful.

The report analyzes the following violations of children’s rights:

  • involuntary displacement of children, not justified by security reasons or medical indications, displacement of children outside the occupied territories to remote regions of Russia, lack of proper information about displaced children, the length of stay of displaced children in Russia and obstacles to the re-union of  children with legal representatives;
  • change in the personal status of children: Violation of Articles 8, 21, 28 of the UN CPC and Article 50 of the IV Geneva Convention (issues of adoption/temporary custody, assignment of Russian citizenship to children, risks of loss of identity and native language).
  • The report pays great attention to the militarization of the education sector in Russia and the risk of children’s involvement in military conflicts, and the special vulnerability of Ukrainian children to militaristic propaganda and “military-patriotic education”.

The authors of the report stress the need for the following measures:

  • The return to Ukraine of all children taken out without the consent of their legal representatives;
  • The cessation of illegal incorporation of children into the Russian citizenship, adoption and transfer of children under permanent custody to citizens of the aggressor country;
  • Ensuring the right of children to preserve their identity, protection from militarism and ideologized Russian upbringing imposed on them;
  • Establishing permanent information cooperation at the interstate level in the search for children who disappeared during the war, ensuring access of Ukrainian services for the protection of children’s rights to data on all Ukrainian children in the Russian Federation;
  • Urgent demilitarization of education and children’s leisure in the Russian Federation.

The 95th session of the UN CRC will be held in Geneva from January 15 to February 2, 2024.

Read the report
In Ukrainian
In Russian
In English