Children’s Ombudsman opposes ‘mandatory child protection’
Children’s Ombudsman speaks out against draft bill on ‘mandatory child protection’
The Federal Children’s Ombudsman, Anna Kuznetsova, has upheld the view that vulnerable children should receive support from social services on a voluntary basis.
The Russian Legal Information Agency reports that proposed changes in legislation will give social service providers, and centres for emergency psychological aid, the authority to give help to children without agreement from their legal representatives. If the law is passed in its current draft, a minor in ‘socially vulnerable circumstances’ might be judged to be in need of protection on the basis of reports from third parties, and without the agreement of parents or guardians.
An explanatory note on the bill states: ˜Social services supporting families and children cannot work effectively to prevent child neglect or criminality, since parents frequently have no interest in ensuring that they receive care or social protection. Furthermore parents may refuse any help. These services already provide for their children on the grounds that receipt of any support must be voluntary.’
The Children’s Commissioner believes that the draft bill contradicts the Family Code of Russia. To pass it would be to discredit parental rights and authorise intervention into family matters. According to the Legal Information Agency, Kuznetsova said: ˜The proposed bill would make sense only for children assigned to social rehabilitation centres by the child protection services. In other circumstances, attempts to provide compulsory social and medical assistance could lead to unacceptable incidents, should the law be passed. Children whose parents have irregular working hours or who are temporarily under the care of grandparents would be hit. To pass this bill without appropriate revision would constitute a grave error”.
The Commissioner will lay a report before the State Duma recommending that the draft law should be rejected. The document has already been discussed by the Parliamentary Committee for Labour, Social Policy and Veterans’ Affairs, which concluded that the proposed amendments should be introduced before the bill is passed.