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The mechanisms developed by the Bring Kids Back UA task force will help return Ukrainian children

09 Jan, 2024
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The mechanisms developed by the Bring Kids Back UA task force will help return Ukrainian children

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The first meeting of the Bring Kids Back UA International Task Force was held in the format of a video conference with the participation of Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak.

The event was also attended by Dmytro Lubinets, Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Daria Herasymchuk, Advisor – Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights and Child Rehabilitation, and more than 20 renowned experts on the protection of children's rights in the context of armed conflicts and senior specialists in the humanitarian, legal and diplomatic fields.

Andriy Yermak thanked Baroness Helena Kennedy, Co-Chair of the International Task Force, a renowned lawyer specializing in human rights, civil liberties and child protection, Director of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association, and the participants of the meeting for supporting Ukraine and its people during the full-scale Russian invasion and particularly in the issue of returning Ukrainian children illegally deported and forcibly displaced by Russia.

"At least 20 thousand children have been abducted by Russia. And this is only according to official data. The terrorist state does not provide any information about the whereabouts of our children to any international organizations or states," he said.

The Head of the Presidential Office stated: "Ukraine has evidence of the horrors experienced by Ukrainian children in Russia and the temporarily occupied territories, including psychological pressure and "brainwashing." This is evidenced by the children themselves, who were returned to Ukraine.

"Our children are hostages in Russia. Our mission is to end their suffering and bring them all home," emphasized Andriy Yermak.

According to the Head of the Presidential Office, since the current global security system has proven ineffective, it is necessary to create tools that will be efficient in returning children. It is for this purpose that the Bring Kids Back UA task force was established and is starting its work today.

"The mechanisms and tools that the group can come up with can be used not only to end the suffering in Ukraine, but also to prevent similar situations in the world in the future," the Head of the Presidential Office summarized.

The group will focus on developing expert opinions and recommendations to propose practical steps and mechanisms for the return of Ukrainian children. Also, using the experience of Ukraine, the members of the group should work on improving the existing international legal framework to prevent similar situations of violation of children's rights around the world.

According to Andriy Yermak, this goal can be achieved only through joint coordinated efforts of Ukraine, the expert community, and the international community, so last month the International Coalition for the Return of Ukrainian Children was established to serve as a platform for coordinating the efforts of our country and partner states.

Baroness Helena Kennedy, Co-Chair of the International Task Force, called the issue of returning illegally deported Ukrainian children extremely important. According to her, a strategy for implementing the tasks and coordination of the world in the important work to return Ukrainian children from Russia are needed, as in the future these mechanisms and Ukraine's experience will become the basis for improving international law.

 

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“The abduction of children, the taking of children away from family, from the place that they know, to deracinate them, to take their sense of who they are and identity from them is a hugely damaging thing to do to a nation. So as well as bombarding you, you're experiencing the theft of your young. And I think that's why we have the sympathy of so much of the world as to what has happened in this regard,” Helena Kennedy said, adding that many countries are willing to join the elaboration of effective mechanisms.

Dmytro Lubinets, the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights, emphasized that the international community, and this task force in particular, should force Russia to comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and international humanitarian law.

He noted that Russia often does not provide any information about the whereabouts of a minor citizen of Ukraine, and it takes a long time to prove that it is indeed a Ukrainian child.

According to the ombudsman, sometimes it is possible to return a child thanks to Ukraine's convening of a special meeting of the UN Security Council, sometimes with the help of relatives who decided to come to Russia and take their children back, or with the assistance of intermediaries, in particular Qatar. The assistance of UNICEF has also been effective.

"We are ready to engage any of the international intermediaries who can really show results: help us bring a Ukrainian child from the territory of the Russian Federation to the territory of Ukraine. We will definitely not reject any initiatives or intermediaries," said Dmytro Lubinets.

The developments of the Bring Kids Back UA International Task Force are expected to play an important role in determining the priorities and activities of the International Coalition for the Return of Ukrainian Children, formed in early December 2023, whose inaugural meeting was held in Kyiv.

The Odessa Journal

The Odessa Journal

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