The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child demanded in Moscow on Monday more information on the transfer of Ukrainian children to Russian soil since its invasion of Ukraine, with a question in the form of criticism: when will the Will Russia cooperate on this with the International Criminal Court (ICC)?
“My final question is: Will Russia cooperate with the investigations at the International Criminal Court into alleged war crimes committed by President Putin and children’s rights defender Ms. Lvova-Belova? » launched the vice-president of the committee, Luis Ernesto Pedernera Reyna, to the Russian delegation at the end of the first day of hearing in Geneva.
The fate of these Ukrainian children is one of the hot points in the examination of the Russian case by the committee, made up of 18 independent experts, who chose to leave the night in Moscow to prepare its defense.
Ukraine estimates that 20,000 Ukrainian children have been forcibly sent to Russia.
At this point, according to Kiev, only about 400 have been repatriated by Ukrainian authorities, and the International Criminal Court last year issued arrest warrants for Mr. Putin and Russia’s children’s commissioner, Maria Lvova- Belova, for the “deportation” of thousands of Ukrainian children.
Moscow firmly rejects these accusations.
While some NGOs are calling for the establishment of an international mechanism aimed at facilitating the identification and return of these children, Mr. Pedernera Reyna, responsible for asking the committee’s questions on this subject, asked the Russian delegation to explain the measures taken to investigate “the accusations of illegal deportations and forced transfers”.
Another expert, Bragi Gudbrandsson, called on Russia to shed light on the consequences of the conflict on Russian children, particularly seeking to know how many of them lost their fathers in combat.
Abortion and LGBT+
While waiting to explain their views on Ukrainian children, the Russian delegation praised the “traditional family” and “strengthening the family as an institution”.
“Since 2020, the Constitution of the Russian Federation contains new amendments which, for the first time, protect the family, motherhood, fatherhood and children,” said the head of the Russian delegation, Alexei Vovchenko.
“We created a new holiday in honor of fathers, Father’s Day, and we reinstated the decoration of “Mother-heroine”, which goes to women with ten or more children”, thus reviving a Soviet tradition aimed at encouraging the birth rate, argued the Russian Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Protection, adding that 2024 is “the year of the family” in Russia and that measures would be taken in particular in terms of “demographic and family”.
The list of concerns from UN experts is long, including on measures taken to prevent “discrimination” against LGBT+ children as Russia has banned this “international movement”, with the country posing as standard bearer of “traditional” values in the face of the supposed decadence of the West.
In this regard, Mr. Pedernera Reyna expressed concern about the “pressures” that the Church could exert against abortion, and asked what measures Moscow intended to take to counter them.
While Bolshevik Russia was the first country in the world to decriminalize abortion in 1920, the Kremlin is moving closer step by step to the anti-abortion line supported by the Orthodox Church.
The committee also questioned Russia on children’s right to freedom of association and assembly, and on the need for them not to be punished for their participation in demonstrations, particularly against the war.
Committee chair Ann Marie Skelton also expressed concern over reports that Russia “actively conducts propaganda aimed at promoting political ideology and particular views on armed conflict in schools.”