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No Way Home

April 22, 2015, 10:00 6330 Author: Eric Mathews driadvocacy.org The Exploitation and Abuse of Children in Ukraine’s Orphanages

At a time when Ukraine is fighting a war, undergoing political turmoil and experiencing economic hardship, it is essential to ensure protection of the basic human rights of the country’s most vulnerable populations, including children with and without disabilities who are living in its orphanages, psychiatric facilities, boarding schools, and medical and social care centers. Immediate action is needed to ensure the safety of institutionalized children in border areas where the breakdown of law and order leaves children vulnerable to neglect, exploitation and trafficking. In addition, throughout Ukraine, new economic hardships have placed increased pressures on families who may be forced to give up their children to orphanages because they lack resources to keep their children at home. No less urgent, this report identifies abusive conditions, exploitation and trafficking taking place throughout Ukraine’s orphanages, psychiatric facilities, and other institutions where children are placed. In all these locations, children with disabilities are especially at-risk.

No Way Home

No Way Home

Immediate action by law enforcement is needed to stop trafficking from institutions. Health and social welfare authorities at the national and local levels must also take immediate action to protect the lives and health of children in the country’s institutions – and to prevent new placements. No Way Home identifies the most pressing concerns facing children in institutions and identifies steps that Ukraine can take to ensure enforcement of basic international human rights, including protections under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).This report pays special attention to the requirements of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), newly ratified by Ukraine, which establishes the country’s obligations toward its children and adults with disabilities.

No Way Home

No Way Home

Article 19 of the CRPD establishes that all persons with disabilities no matter what their level of disability have a right “to full inclusion and participation in the community.” Article 23(4) makes clear that “[i]n no case shall a child be separated from parents on the basis of a disability of either the child or one or both of the parents.” The Convention on the Rights of the Child has long held that all children have a right to grow up in a family, and the CRPD clarifies that it is no longer acceptable to place children with disabilities in institutions as a “last resort” when no community placements are available. The UN “Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children” makes clear that, to implement these rights, all governments must adopt a deinstitutionalization strategy for orphanages and all residential care facilities “which will allow for their progressive elimination.”

No Way Home

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