By Anastasia Moskvychova
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine
Kyiv – Representatives of the Ukrainian ombudsman confirmed that, besides the use of diplomacy, Ukraine has no leverage to protect human rights in Crimea. Almost five thousand orphans and children removed from parental care, as well as three thousand persons in prisons, have no clear status either in Ukraine or in Russia as far as rights are concerned. Currently a monitoring mission, manned by human rights observers from various countries is being formed which can, however, only document violations of human rights but not enforce them.
Needy families and families with children in Crimea received financial aid from Ukraine at the beginning of March, after which the accounts through which the national treasury transferred the funds were shut down. Akasana Filipishina, head of the administration for the protection of children’s rights, non-descrimination and gender equality of the Ombudsman’s Office, tells the story. Presently the payments are being carried out according to Ukrainian legislation, but out of the Russian Federation’s budget. According to Filipishina, there is a danger of the payments being curtailed, starting in June, to those who refuse to accept Russian citizenship.
There is another danger facing the children who have been removed from parental care and orphans – almost three thousand are under guardianship. The rest are living with families or in boarding schools of which there are twenty-nine in Crimea, declared Filipishina. According to her, if the guardians do not receive proper financial support, children will be returned to boarding schools. In any case, the representative of the human rights authorities stressed that the rights of these persons were taken into account neither in the quickly passed law “On the occupied territory,” nor in other government projects.
“Currently the government has prepared only two projects which concern solely the problems of foster families, guardians and foster care homes for children which have moved away and a count of the number of orphans who have left Crimea. Simultaneously, the question of how to deal with the children who have remained has been totally forgotten,” she maintained.
“There is no mechanism to transfer prisoners and boarding-school children away from the peninsula,”-Belousov
There is no communication with the more than three thousand prisoners currently in Crimea. All penal authorities in Crimea have declared their independence from and refusal to adhere to Ukrainian law, noted Yuri Belousov, the representative of the office for the realization of national preventive measures. In his words, Ukraine is ready to transfer those persons to prisons on the mainland, but does not have the mechanisms to do so.
The situation is similar for persons in neuropsychiatric [mental] institutions who are currently in Crimea and whose number is close to 1,200 people, said Belousov.
“The Ministry for Social Affairs has discussed this with the directors of all these institutions. They are willing to place all inmates in institutions on the mainland. The directors said, ’We interviewed them and they said they didn’t want to leave. This is something that cannot be verified. And again: we asked the prisoners, and they don’t want to leave either.”
According to Belousov, Ukrainian human rights activists were forced to leave Crimea because they were threatened with death. Currently there is an international observation mission deployed with representatives of human rights organizations from Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. We plan to create a focal point with these people to coordinate with the office of the Ukrainian Ombudsman. However, notes Belousov, the mission will only be able to document human rights violations on the peninsula. Ukraine will have no leverage there other than diplomacy.