CoE to help punish those responsible for deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia

CoE to help punish those responsible for deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia

The heads of state and government of 46 member countries of the Council of Europe have adopted the "Declaration on the situation of the children in Ukraine" in which, in particular, they pledged to work on the immediate return of children taken to Russia and on the punishment of those guilty of crimes against minors.

According to Ukrinform, a respective declaration is included in the annex to the final document of the Council of Europe summit in Reykjavik.

The declaration expresses solidarity with the Ukrainian people, "who are defending not only their sovereign State but also the principles and values of the Council of Europe," and calls on Russia "to cease the aggression against Ukraine and respect its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law."

The document condemns the large-scale abuses and violations of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of children of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, as well as attacks by the Russian Federation on civilian objects. It also expresses grave concern with regard to the evidence of killings, injuries and sexual abuse of children, unlawful transfers and deportation of Ukrainian children by Russian forces to the Russian Federation and Belarus or to the areas temporarily controlled or occupied by the Russian Federation and their forcible placement under custody or adoption by Russian citizens, and other violations of their dignity and rights.

Underlining that all crimes committed against children must be independently investigated and their perpetrators must not go unpunished, the Council of Europe emphasized the significance of the recent decision of the International Criminal Court to issue arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Children's Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova "in connection with the alleged war crimes of unlawful deportation and transfer of children from temporarily controlled or occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation."

The heads of state and government underlined "the need to intensify efforts, at all levels of governance, to guarantee the effective protection of the rights of children of Ukraine in the current context" and declared a number of their obligations in this regard. In addition, they expressed their resolve to assist the Ukrainian authorities to implement a comprehensive reform of the child protection and care system, in due respect of the rights of the child.

"We are fully committed to fight against the impunity of perpetrators of crimes committed against children, including the deportation of children, by continuing our support for international and national jurisdictions investigating these crimes," the declaration said.

Also, the heads of state and government of 46 countries said they were committed "to working with the international community and to supporting the Ukrainian authorities to ensure the immediate return to Ukraine of children who have been unlawfully transferred and deported from Ukraine to the Russian Federation, Belarus or to the areas temporarily controlled or occupied by the Russian Federation."

"We are determined to ensure co-operation and co-ordination with other international and European organizations, including civil society organizations, to safeguard and protect the rights, safety and well-being of the children of Ukraine," the document said.

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