Introduction

  1. The right to life
  2. Right to security of person
  3. Right to religious freedom
  4. Rights to the inviolability of the home
  5. Right to live in the family
  6. Rights of the child living apart from parents
  7. Child’s right to social welfare
  8. Rights of children with disabilities and children with special developmental needs

Conclusion

Introduction

The effectiveness of the whole system ensuring the observance of children’s rights is conditioned by various factors, the fundamental among which are qualitative legislation and proper control over law enforcement practice.

The level of observance and protection of the rights and interests of minors can be improved through the use of a professional analysis of the effectiveness of the functioning of the legal system in the area of safeguarding the rights and interests of minors, identifying systemic violations of children’s rights, and systematizing factors that impede the observance of the rights and interests of children.

The absence of the Ombudsperson for the Children’s Rights or an independent body whose activities are directly aimed at protecting the rights and interests of children in the Republic of Belarus does not allow collecting complete and reliable statistics on the facts of their violation.

This monitoring and analysis of the level of observance and protection of the rights and interests of minors in the Republic of Belarus is made on the basis of applications from citizens (usually mothers of underage children) to OUR HOUSE ICCI (International Center for Civil Initiatives) and is drawn from the publications in the media that address the most pressing issues in this field.

1.The right to life

The absence of the baby-box system in the Republic of Belarus indicates that the birth of every infant is not important for the state. [1][2]

There are no plans to introduce baby-boxes in the Republic of Belarus since there is an official view, which states that this will not lead to a reduction in the number of cases of abandoned children. [3]

In addition, the child’s right to know his/her origin, his/her parents, own kin (the fourth category of human rights) is also given as an argument.

Nevertheless, the first fundamental right of a person, including a child, (in case of various classifications of human rights) is the right to life, as the unconditional and inalienable right of every person.

The existence in Belarus of the Decree of the President of the Republic approved by the Order No. 18 of 24 November 2006, “On Additional Measures for the State Protection of Children in Dysfunctional Families” imposes on  parents (who abandoned the child, left the child in health care organizations, etc.) the need to reimburse the state the costs of the maintenance of children. In addition, such parents are limited in some civil rights: freedom of movement, the right to freedom of disposal of property, the right to work is replaced by a duty with a significant reduction in the duration of minimum ordinary leave, etc.

Having a baby-box system helps not only to save lives of babies but also supports mothers in a difficult life situation.

2.Right to security of person

Article 9 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On the Rights of the Child” guarantees the right to inviolability of the person, protection from exploitation and violence.

According to the article, the state ensures the inviolability of the child’s personality, protects him/her from all kinds of exploitation, including sexual exploitation, physical and / or mental violence, cruel, rude or insulting treatment, humiliation, sexual harassment, including by parents (guardians, trustees) and relatives, involvement in criminal activities, introduction to the use of alcoholic, low-alcoholic beverages, as well as beer, consumption of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, their analogues, toxic or other intoxicating substances, tobacco products, coercion to prostitution, begging, vagrancy, gambling, performing activities related to the manufacture and distribution of pornographic materials or pornographic items, as well as involving the child in work that may harm his physical, mental or moral development.

In violation of this article in the Republic of Belarus, minors are not protected from exploitation. Thus, cultivation of cattle, pigs, etc. is practiced in such substitute families as family-type orphanages and children are the ones who are caring for animals. [4]

Despite the positivity of such articles, they contain information that required the attention of the officials accompanying the family. In particular, the publication contains information that children are drawn to care for cattle.

At the same time, the Resolution of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Republic of Belarus approved by Order No. 67 of 27 June  2013, endorsed the list of works where the use of the labor of persons under 18 years of age is prohibited (hereinafter the List). This list is coordinated with other ministries and regional executive committees. According to the List, care of cattle refers to works prohibited for persons under the age of 18.

Despite the public placement of information on the involvement of minors in work that may harm the physical, mental or moral development of children, the guardianship and trusteeship agencies and other state bodies stay inactive; thereby contribute to the further violation of children’s rights.

The cases of violence against children testify the lack of proper monitoring of the situation of children. [5][6][7][8][9][10]

3.Right to religious freedom

The right to religious freedom of minors is guaranteed by the Article 10 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On the Rights of the Child”. According to the article, every child has the right to independently determine their attitude to religion, profess any religion or not to profess any.

Article 20 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that a child who is temporarily or permanently deprived of his or her family environment or who, in his own best interests cannot remain in that environment, has the right to special protection and assistance provided by the State. When considering options for replacing the care of such a child, the desirability of continuity in a child’s upbringing and his/her ethnic origin, religious and cultural background and mother tongue should be taken into full consideration.

However, this right is violated, during replacement of   orphans and children deprived of parental care in substitute families; the religious affiliation of such children is not investigated, what evidences the position of officials of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Belarus.

Thus, considering the issue of violation of the child’s right to religious freedom by substitute family, the Deputy Minister of Education, V.A. Bogush pointed out that “in our country, no official documents indicate the attitude of a citizen to religion. Therefore, it is not so easy to find a religious family for a religious child – the guardianship authorities simply do not collect information about the religion of foster parents, nor the child is asked about his/her faith.”

Due to the fact that this is the position of a state body at the republican level, this indicates a systematic violation of children’s rights, in particular, the right to determine religion.

Thus, the consent of the legal representative to a minor who is under 15 years of age is necessary only to conduct religious life.

The state is obliged to intervene in cases when the child-rearing and upbringing are based on a certain religious worldview of parents (guardians, trustees) violates his/her rights (including the right to independently determine his/her attitude to religion).

In addition, the faith of the foster parents, as well as their tolerance to a different faith, is not investigated during the care replacement of orphans and children deprived of parental care   in a foster family. That is, initially, the right to religious freedom of a minor is in danger of being violated. [11]

4.Rights to the inviolability of the home

The right to the inviolability of the home is directly enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus (Article 24).

The right to the inviolability of the child’s home is enshrined in Art. 16 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: “No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his/her right to privacy, family life, inviolability of home or secrecy of correspondence, or unlawful attacks on his/her honor and reputation.”

When conducting a survey of the living conditions of the family, as a rule, consent (permission) of adults is not requested. The consent of minors to the direct examination of the premises where the child lives is never specified. The personal belongings of the minor can be inspected without his/her consent (permission). The information received by the inspectors during such inspections can later be made public.

All this grossly violates the rights of children to the inviolability of the home, to non-interference in private life, his/her honor, and dignity.

5.Right to live in the family

According to the Article 15 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On the Rights of the Child” minors are guaranteed  the right to reside in the family: Every child has the right to live in a family, to know both his/her parents, to be cared for by them, to live with them, except the cases when separation from one or both parents is necessary for the interests of the child.

The right to live in the family is violated, in case if the parents (parent) have a disease that is included in the list of diseases when parents cannot perform parental responsibilities (the Decree of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus approved by Order No. 36 of 30 March 2010 (hereinafter the List)).

Despite the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the Republic of Belarus on December 29, 2016, children whose parents (parent) have a disease included in the List and/or disability (if the record in the individual rehabilitation programme for a disabled person states that  they are prohibited to work) need state protection and are taken from their parents (parent).[12]

In the family of Mikhodyukovs (Vitebsk region, Orsha), the children were taken from their mother because she could not resist the violence of her husband (the father of children) due to her personality.

Mother (Natalia Mikhodyuk), a victim of domestic violence, appealed for help to law enforcement agencies; however, instead of assistance from state bodies, children were taken from her.

The children are separated from their mother; their right to live in the family has been violated.

Elvira Mironova was taken from her parents because of a conflict with the school. [13]

The parents’ demands to provide the proper sanitary conditions in the school have operated for them in such a decision of the Commission on Minors: “The stay of the underage Elvira Eduardovna Mironova in a biological family poses a threat to her life and health.”

Taking away children from mothers in the presence of debt on utility bills is becoming habitual. [14][15][16]

[17]All this confirms that no compelling reasons are needed for the removal of a child from the family in the Republic of Belarus. Thus, in the Republic of Belarus, the right of a child to live in a family is constantly in jeopardy.

6.Rights of the child living apart from parents

Article 16 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On the Rights of the Child” establishes the rights of a child who lives separately from his parents. So, a child living apart from one or both parents in the Republic of Belarus or another state has the right to maintain regular personal relationships and direct contacts with parents and other relatives, except for cases when such communication does not meet the interests of the child.

In case the child is taken from the parents (parent) having the disease included in the List, the child’s right to communicate with the parents (parent) is violated.

So, according to Art. 85-1 of the Marriage and Family Code of the Republic of Belarus after the removal, the child is placed in the state care in accordance with the procedure established by the law of the Republic of Belarus. Should a decision be taken on the removal of a child, the parents have the right to communicate with the child in the same manner as parents deprived of parental rights. That is, children are taken from their parents (parent) due to illness are limited or prohibited to communicate with their parents (at the request of the guardian or the trustee).

According to Art. 92 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus, convicted women are permitted for one short-term leave per year of up to seven days for meeting with their underage children, only in cases if these children are disabled.

According to paragraph 170 of the Internal Order regulations of Correctional Institutions  approved by Order No. 174 of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus of 20 October  2000, the length of extended visits are granted to convicted prisoners  by the administration of the institution, where the behavior,  attitude to work and study  of the convicted is been taking into account .

That is the realization of the child’s right to communicate, to maintain regular personal relationships and direct contact with parents depends on the parent’s behavior, attitude towards work and study.

The obstacle to this right of the child is systemic since such procedure is fixed by legal acts.

7.Child’s right to social welfare

Article 21 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On the Rights of the Child” establishes the right of the child to social welfare by the state. According to this article, in order to fully support the upbringing of the child in the family, the state provides social assistance in the form of state benefits and provides benefits in accordance with the legislative acts of the Republic of Belarus. The article does not provide the child’s right to social welfare in case of loss of a breadwinner. However, this right is guaranteed to everyone (including children) art. 47 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus. In violation of this constitutional guarantee to date, the issue of social welfare in case of loss of a breadwinner for children whose parents are unknown has not been resolved in the Republic of Belarus. Children whose parents are unknown are not appointed for and are not paid the survivor’s pension.

8.Rights of children with disabilities and children with special developmental needs

Article 31 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On the Rights of the Child” provides that the state guarantees free pedagogical, medical, social and psychological assistance to children with disabilities and children with special developmental needs, their and their parents (guardians, trustees) choice of educational institutions, the creation of special conditions for the education of children with special development needs and providing them with pedagogical correction support, employment in accordance with their capabilities, social  rehabilitation, full life in conditions that ensure dignity, fosters active social inclusion.

However, the rights of disabled children to special assistance from the state remain declarative. In practice, such children either do not receive vital equipment and supplies or are provided with useless equipment. [18][19]

In situations where children with disabilities are not provided with the most necessary equipment, there is an enlargement of their lives. That is, such failure to provide essential items of care and equipment (tracheostomy and gastrostomy tubes, ventilators, etc.) entails a violation of the child’s right to life.

Conclusion

The information presented above shows that there is the imperfection of the normative legal framework in the sphere of ensuring the rights and legitimate interests of minors, which is an unfavorable factor.

The welfare of the child in the Republic of Belarus is not ensured since the state does not provide protection from the threat of life, violence, abuse, exploitation, there is no unhindered access to the most advanced health care and social security services.

The branch of social policy and law in the field of protecting the rights and interests of minors is not sufficiently developed, and the systemic fragmentation of functional State institutions dealing with the problems of minors does not allow achieving positive results.

[1] http://ont.by/news/our_news/mat-brosila-novorozhdyonnyyu-devochky-na-krilce-roddoma-v-slycke

[2] https://gomel.today/rus/news/gomel-6869/

[3] http://news.21.by/society/2017/10/11/1384148.html

[4] http://www.alesyamag.by/?p=4298

[5] https://govorim.by/gomelskaya-oblast/svetlogorsk/novosti-svetlogorska/90281-ob-iznasilovanii-v-priemnoy-seme-coobschili-uzhe-4-devochki-zhena-podozrevaemogo-ya-gotova-emu-prostit-on-zolotoy-chelovek.html

[6] https://news.tut.by/society/554899.html

[7] http://1reg.by/2017/08/29/v-lyahovichah-otec-iznasiloval-svoyu-15-letnyuyu-doch/

[8]http://www.gs.by/ru/1043/belarus/35774/Отец-пытался-изнасиловать-несовершеннолетнюю-дочь.htm

[9] http://www.belaruspartisan.org/life/385256/

[10] http://www.belaruspartisan.org/life/395083/

[11] http://mihck.info/node/746

[12] https://nash-dom.info/46862

[13] https://nash-dom.info/47479

[14] https://nash-dom.info/47917

[15] https://vkurier.by/78890

[16] https://regnum.ru/news/2335087.html

[17] https://finance.tut.by/news563849.html

[18] https://imenamag.by/posts/№1_trubki

[19] https://imenamag.by/posts/thing_2_kolyaski

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