Ukraine Needs Laws Prohibiting Involvement of Children in Hostilities – Restoring Donbas
13:20 / 04 Mar. 2016 / 151
“Restoring Donbas” Community Initiative urges the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to speed up the process of consideration and adoption of the draft law “On introduction of amendments into certain legislative acts of Ukraine as to criminal responsibility for recruitment, involvement and (or) drawing children in participation in military conflicts or hostilities” (registration No. №1412).
According to experts of the Initiative said draft law is a follow-up of the Law of Ukraine “On introduction of amendments into certain laws of Ukraine as to enhancement of social protection of children and support to families with children”, which came into effect on 21 February 2016.
Norms of that Law prohibit participation of children in hostilities and armed conflicts, including recruitment, financing, material support, training of children with the aim of using them in armed conflicts and use of children in hostilities and armed conflicts. Those breaching that norm shall bear criminal responsibility which is not provided by the laws as of today.
Ukraine is a party to numerous international treaties prohibiting participation of children in armed conflicts. In the first place, that is United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. Our country therefore assumed obligations to protect children against participation or involvement in participation in armed conflicts and to provide for criminal liability for violation of said obligation.
Mass media repeatedly spread information on participation of minors in hostilities: from collection of information on movements of armaments to direct participation in combat operations. Multiple facts of engaging children in paramilitary groups take place in the uncontrolled territories of Donbas as well.
“Restoring Donbas” Community Initiative constantly monitors risks of involving children in the conflict in the East of the country. Multiple facts of direct contact of children with armed men are noted, which contacts are useless at their core and only form risks of involving children in hostilities.
Moreover, the President of Ukraine in his speech before Kyiv lyceum students and cadets on 29 January admitted the fact of death of 21 minors who directly participated in hostilities. Thus, violation of children’s rights in Ukraine was acknowledged at the highest level. However, as experts of the Initiative note, the numbers of dead children are a way greater, while the tragedy has a scale that is much larger.
“The laws of Ukraine stipulate that full legal capacity emerges at the age of 18 with good reason. It is at that age that a child already can take well-considered decisions, is allowed to enter into marriage, do military service. And until that age he remains a child. And we’ve got it going to show that one is not allowed to marry yet, but already may be in the war. May be, that is patriotism for some people, but not for me. It’s inadmissible to take pride in death of children, as losses among children at war are unwarranted. Criminal responsibility should therefore be borne for drawing a child into war”, – Olena Petryayeva, Head of Restoring Donbas” Community Initiative noted.
It will be recalled that the draft law “On introduction of amendments into certain legislative acts of Ukraine as to criminal responsibility for recruitment, involvement and (or) drawing children in participation in military conflicts or hostilities” was registered in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as far back as on 11 December 2014. Norms of the draft law provide for criminal responsibility for crimes relating to recruitment, involvement or drawing a minor or underage in paramilitary or armed groups, using them in military conflicts or hostilities, illegal handling of weapon, ammunition and explosive matters. Sanctions of the draft law provide for imprisonment for the period from 3 years to life imprisonment, without the right to amnesty.