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Child Protection Laws in Ukraine

Posted: 19 Dec 2023 by Aminat Sulyemanova

 

Following our focus on the issues of children's protection in Ukraine, I would like to share our recent experience of co-operating with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

UNICEF works across 190 countries and territories to reach children and young people at risk and in need. UNICEF opened its office in Kyiv in 1997. Over the years, UNICEF has supported the Ukrainian government in developing children's health, water and sanitation, education, and protection programs.

UNICEF recognizes the unique vulnerabilities that children face during times of war and strives to provide them with the support they and their families need to survive. UNICEF works to provide access to education, psychosocial support, access to clean water and sanitation, mine risk education initiatives as well as maternal and child health.

In response to the war, UNICEF launched many different humanitarian projects in Ukraine. One such direction is the further improvement of the national legislation with regard to the protection of children’s rights.

We were commissioned by UNICEF to provide our independent legal expert report on the draft law No. 7087 dated 22 February 2022 “On amendments to certain legislative acts of Ukraine regarding the delineation of the functions of state authorities and local self-government authorities on the protection of children’s rights in connection with the establishment of The State Children’s Service of Ukraine.”

Ironically, this draft law was filed with Parliament two days before the invasion.

Sadly, it is no secret that even before the war, the Ukrainian system of care and custody over children in need (orphans and children deprived of parental care) was in a catastrophic state and unfortunately the situation has deteriorated even further.

The draft law No. 7087 was presented to the Ukrainian Parliament, attempts to introduce some urgent measures to improve the situation with the protection of the children who find themselves in difficult life circumstances.

It proposes to make amendments to:

(1) The Law of Ukraine “On local self-government” with regard to the determination of the powers of executive bodies of local self-government authorities as guardianship and custody authorities, under the supervision of the chief of local self-government authorities.

(2) The Family Code of Ukraine with regard to bringing the provisions of the Code into line with the new distribution of powers in the field of protection of children’s rights, as related to the decentralization of authority.

(3) The Civil Code of Ukraine with regard to the clarification of the defining guardianship and custody authorities as exclusively executive bodies of territorial communities.

(4) The Civil Procedure Code for the purpose of duly regulating issues related to the adoption of a child.

(5) The Law of Ukraine “On authorities and services on children affairs and special establishments for children” with regard to the distribution of powers in the field of protection of children’s rights related to the decentralization of authority and strengthening the participation of prosecutor’s offices in ensuring the children’s rights and interests.

(6) The Laws of Ukraine “On protection of childhood”, “On ensuring organizational and legal conditions for social protection of orphans and children deprived of parental care” with regard to the distribution of powers in the field of protection of children’s rights related to the decentralization of authority.

AGA Partners made a detailed analysis of the proposed changes and evaluated their impact on the issues of children’s protection in Ukraine.

Every draft law has its pros and cons, and No. 7087 is no exception.

The chart below illustrates its weaknesses and strengths.

 

 

Disadvantage Advantages
Lack of clear delination between the activities of local children's services and district-state administrations. Improvement of the system of state authorities and local self-government authorities the activities of which are aimed at protecting the rights and interests of the child, including the creation of a new state authority directed exclusively at protecting the rights and interests of the child. 
Introduction of the prosecutor's mandatory participation in the adoption of cases, which may lead to a delay in consideration of the relevant category of cases  
Reduction of the terms of preparing an adoption case for consideration on the merits and appealing it. 

Detailing the tasks that are set before the newly created authorities for the protection of children’s rights, which sets the vector of transparency in their activities.

Actual availability of powers of various state authorities, in the field of adoption and protection of children’s rights, which are included in the coordinate system of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.

 

In our opinion, despite the existing disadvantages, if implemented, draft law No. 7087 will  positively influence the current situation in Ukraine in the short, medium, and long term in the protection of children’s rights.

Currently, the draft law is with the President of Ukraine and awaiting signature.

We hope that this draft will soon become a full-fledged law and that vulnerable children in Ukraine will be protected as much as it is practically possible during the war.

Furthermore, the draft law also supports Ukraine’s ambition and strong desire to change the existing institutional care system to family-type or close-to-family-type forms of upbringing of children.

In case you are interested, you can  find a full report on UNICEF’s  website here: https://www.unicef.org/ukraine/en/reports/7087-analysis-aga

Aminat Suleymanova 
IAFL Fellow, Ukraine


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