Transition period for new US adoption law

Human rights advocates request clarification from the
Russian Supreme Court regarding enforcement of the ‘Dima Yakovlev’ law.


The Moscow Helsinki Group has appealed to Vyacheslav
Lebedev, President of the Russian Supreme Court, for clarification to the courts
and other law enforcement bodies of questions regarding enforcement of the law in
adoption cases which are incomplete or have commenced during the transition
period, until the interstate agreement comes to an end.  The issue concerns the so-called transition
period of a calendar year from the moment that the ‘Dima Yakovlev law’ comes
into force, until the expiry of the Russian-American agreement on adoption.  Human rights advocates believe that, during
this period, not only should judicial considerations of adoption requests from
US citizens not be curtailed, but that the right to submit such appeals to the
court should be retained, since the enacted law does not have retroactive
force, and the Constitution of the Russian Federation forbids the passing of
laws which worsen the human rights situation. 
The enacted federal legislation on means of influencing those involved
in infringing fundamental human rights and freedoms and the rights and freedoms
of citizens of the Russian Federation creates a grave and confused situation,
in so far as it essentially changes the previous legal situation by introducing
a ban on both US citizens, and an unspecified group of citizens of other
states, from adopting Russian orphans. 
However, it does not contain any regulations relating to the transition
period during which the international agreement on adoption will, in reality,
remain in effect as regards new adoption applications and, moreover, as regards
adoption cases which have already begun. 


At the present time, the only information for those
attempting to understand what will happen during the transition period, comes from
the comments of civil servants and members of the State Duma.  Therefore, human rights advocates believe
that the plenum of the Russian Supreme Court must clarify to courts of general
jurisdiction and other law enforcement bodies what the regulations are when
deciding on adoption cases during the transition period both as regards new
adoption applications and as regards those cases which have not yet been reviewed.


The appeal’s authors have pointed out that to refuse the
adoption of a child when that child is ready to join a family, and when the
child has already been introduced to its potential adoptive parents, may
traumatise the child and even give rise to suicide attempts or depression. That
is, it may have serious consequences which, if not prevented, would pose an
obvious contravention of Russia’s positive obligations  under paragraph 2 of the European Convention for
the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.


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