Degree Project in Criminology Malmö University 15 Credits
JUVENILE JUSTICE AND THE UN
CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF
A QUALITATIVE CONTENT ANALYSIS ON THE
EXAMPLE OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION
JUVENILE JUSTICE AND THE
UN CONVENTION ON THE
RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
This paper analyses the child rights and juvenile justice system in the contemporary Russian Federation as one of the member countries, that adopted the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989. The choice of the researched country is based on the fact, that Russia is one of the few countries in the world, that has adopted a system of juvenile justice and particularly, the juvenile court as an executive juvenile legal authority, that is primarily addressed to the facilitation of child rights and its compliance to the Convention. The paper provides a qualitative content analysis on the juvenile justice and the child rights in Russia, formed in the sequential themes, in which the child rights are compiled and discussed. The results of this paper show how the juvenile justice system is developed in Russia and which advantages/disadvantages it has, as well as what are the new themes in the Russian legislation on the child rights. Therefore, these results are relevant to the field of criminology, in order to conduct future research on the child delinquency, juvenile victimology and other related areas. Thus, an important aspect of this research is to underline a need in the further research in child rights protection, specifically becoming not only as an international obligation, but a national one for all of the countries. The analysis of this paper can serve as the basis for subsequent scientific research and thereby, to contribute to the new solutions of problems associated with the realization of the child rights and their protection.
Keywords: child rights, juvenile delinquency, juvenile system, juvenile justice, juvenile welfare, Russia, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, CRC.
Madsen, D. Juvenile Justice and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. A qualitative content analysis on the example of the Russian Federation. Degree project in Criminology 15 Credits. Malmö University: Faculty of Health and Society, Department of Criminology, 2020
Table of Content
- The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in the Russian Federation……… 3
- Relevance to Criminology………. 3
- Definitions………. 4
- Previous Research……….. 5
Methods and Ethics……….. 7
- Research design and data collection method………. 8
- Ethical considerations………... 9
1. Child protection under the UN CRC………... 10
2. Contemporary child rights in Russia………. 12
3.Juvenile Justice and Delinquency……… 17
Discussion and Conclusion……….. 20
- Research limitations………... 22
- Future Implications………... 23
Nowadays children have all basic human rights granted by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (hereinafter, the CRC), such as the rights to safety, to education, to health, to private property, to free labour, etc1. However, until the age
of maturity parents are obliged by law to provide all essential care for their children: to represent in courts and other official entities, to sign contracts, pay taxes and fines, decide to which school they will go and even to decide some other issues, as child’s religion from birth (Fottrell, 2000). Meanwhile, children also have rights granted directly from their birth, for example to communicate with parents and to freely express their opinions and thoughts, whereas the responsibility of each parent is to listen to their child and to take it into consideration (Zermatten, 2007). Thus, the existing research on the rights of the child of the past century has made a significant contribution to the development of new policies regarding the child, that became to be recognized as an independent subject of law, which means to have a special social status and protection. Accordingly, the CRC considers the child as a person with its legitimate rights and interests, which the state, the society and the adult must support and implement in the best interests of the child2.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in the Russian Federation
By becoming a party to the Convention, Russia committed to bring the national legislation in line with the provisions of the Convention, thereby providing a legal basis for creating decent living conditions for each child as a subject of the full range of constitutional human rights (The Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, 2016)3. This served later as the legal basis for the Constitution of the
Russian Federation4, which entered into force after the Convention’s ratification.
That is why the Russian Constitution actually reflects all the foundations stated in the Convention.
Relevance to Criminology
1 The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Adopted and opened for
signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989 entry into force 2 September 1990, in accordance with article 49
2 Art.3(1) UNCRC (Principle of the best interest of the child)
3 Available on minjust.ru/ru/press/news/statya-po-pravam-rebenka [accessed on 13 May 2020] 4 The Constitution of the Russian Federation, entered into force on December 25, 1993
The field of child rights is significant to the Criminology as a science, specifically in themes of juvenile delinquency and child abuse (Valuyskov, 2015). Valuyskov explains, that the main tendencies of the contemporary juvenile delinquency in Russia are the ‘humanization of the entire system of criminal liability measures’ applied to minors, as well as ‘toughening measures in relation to persons, who have committed crimes against minors’. Therefore, it seems necessary to contribute this research to the future analysis in the context of preventing juvenile delinquency problems, precisely from the standpoint of protecting the child rights.
The definition of the child rights follows from the basic principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (hereinafter, UDHR)5, where its separate article is
dedicated to children. It states that ‘motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance’.6 Thus, recognizing equal rights of children to all the
freedoms proclaimed in the declaration, the international community established the need for additional assistance and support for children. However, it is also criticised, as the child rights are mentioned only two times in the UDHR (Bhabha, 2006). Therefore, the child rights- are the rights and freedoms that every child has regardless of any differences: race, gender, language, religion, place of birth, national or social origin, property, estate or any other criteria (Van Bueren, 1998). The Convention covers not only the child rights in a broader sense, but also mentions the rights in juvenile justice and delinquency practice7, which is
determined differently in several countries. For instance, not all countries have implemented a separate juvenile justice system, that includes juvenile courts, where specialized judges deal with juveniles. However, Russia is one of the countries that has implemented juvenile justice as a part of the executive system (Meleshko, Andryushchenko, Vedernikova, & Maksudov, 2006). Thus, juvenile justice is an international term for a specialized juvenile justice system (Vernikova, 2000). In
5 UN General Assembly, "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" (UNDHR) 217 (III) A (Paris,
6 Art.25 (2) UNDHR
7 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Committee on the rights of the child. Geneva
2007. General Comment No. 10: Children’s rights in juvenile justice. CRC/C/GC/10. Available at 2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/docs/CRC.C.GC.10.pdf [accessed on 12 May 2020]
the Russian legislation, juvenile law is used as complex definition - as a set of normative legal acts reffered to legal relations involving children (Ermakov, 1999).8
In general, the mechanism for protecting the child rights in Russian context should be understood as a system of social and legal means of the child rights protection (Semenova, 2016).9 At the same time, the term social protection has its own
definition regarding the child rights (Malyarova & Nesmeyanova, 1991). Malyarova et al. explains the concept as a system of economic, organizational and legal measures granted by the state, that provides children with the conditions to overcome a possible difficult life situation.
The national legislation of Russian Federation was not the first to establish the child rights in the country. Initially special protection measures for the most vulnerable groups of society, ‘to all those who themselves do not have equal opportunities to defend their rights, as women and children’, had been provided by the framework of international law (Chinaryan, 2010). Thus, Chinaryan’s study found that only after the adoption of international framework, the child rights started to be also implemented as a part of the Russian national legislation.
Firstly, it is still commonly being ignored, that children are not the objects of parental upbringing, but instead have their own personal rights (Adonteng-Kissi, 2020). In this sense, Adonteng-Kissi found that in the countries with traditional child-rearing patterns, children are often seen as a property of their parents rather than individual bearers of their rights.
Another aspect secondly, is that children may not understand what means to have rights and what kind of rights they have. Specifically the understanding and the usage of the Convention in everyday life still remain unclear (Shcheglova, 2004). Shcheglova found, that only 5% of children answered negatively on the awareness of their rights, whereas the majority answered positively on their understanding of child rights, however they could not explain what these rights are in particular. This means, that the majority of children have heard about their rights existence,
8 Federal Law of the RF “Fundamentals of Legislation on Juvenile Justice in the Russian Federation”
Art. 1 : juvenile justice is defined as a combination of legal mechanisms, medical, social, psychological, pedagogical and rehabilitation, as well as other procedures and programs designed to provide the most complete protection of the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of minors, as well as persons responsible for their upbringing, implemented by the system of state and non-state bodies, institutions and organizations.
however they do not know how it can be used. By having a deeper look into the legal actions conducted by minors, children do not know when they enter the contracts conducted in everyday life (Brooks, 2004). Such contractual relationship can be ranging from simple buying goods from the store to the actual signing of a legally-binding document. Moreover, children do not acknowledge whether the contract they have entered is voidable or not. In general, children do not fully comprehend that buying goods from the store is an actual entering to the contractual relationship. Therefore, Brooks suggested, that the regulations concerning the contractual relationship should be constantly adapted not only for the usage by adults, but with the provision of special regulations applied to minors. That is why, various international educational institutes, governments and child organizations try different approaches to raise children’s awareness on their rights and to educate them to use these rights (Polonko & Lombardo, 2015). Polonko et al. analyzed the reports of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and have found, that there were only limited number of governments encouraging the work of various organizations that promote child rights, which is a concern of the Committee. (Akhmetova, Barannikov, & Tarasenko, 2003). For instance, Akhmetova et.al explains, that the problem of child rights education in Russian schools is in the absence of specialized teachers in child rights field. Therefore, the teachers are lacking competence to teach or explain the usage of child rights to the students. This explains why the teachers are not capable of educating children about their rights, as well as why there is no special school subject dedicated to that topic. However, as the findings of Shcheglova showed the necessity of child rights education, the introduction of a separate subject in school curriculum taught by specialized in child rights teachers could be of a big advantage.
The aim of this paper is primarily to study the outcomes of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in the Russian Federation, aimed at providing a detailed qualitative content analysis on the child rights and juvenile justice protection in Russia.
Thus, the main research questions in this paper are:
1) What are the main themes in the Russian legislation on child rights?
2) What is the juvenile justice system in the Russian Federation and how it is implemented?
3) How far has the system of juvenile justice, as a core recommendation of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, developed after the adoption of the Convention in Russia?
4) What is the “National Action Plan for the Children of the Russian Federation of 2020” as the latest governmental report on the child rights and which new themes are raised?
Methods and Ethics
Research design and data collection method
The main method used in this paper is a qualitative content analysis, which means that all available data in the field of the child rights in Russia was collected and analysed by the sequential themes. The choice of the method is explained in the advantage of a qualitative сontent analysis for studying the collected data in depth and afterwards, producing detailed results (Mayring, 2004). Therefore, the qualitative content analysis as a method is chosen in this paper to promote and expand the understanding of the child rights and juvenile delinquency for the future research contribution.
A prerequisite for the content analysis application as a method is the availability of the researched material (Minin & Orlova, 2017). Thus, in order to conduct the analysis of this paper, the first stage was to collect relevant legal materials on child rights in Russia available in the Russian official online databases. Such databases for the legal materials in Russia are: “Federalnye Zakony”, “Consultant”, “Official portal of the legal information in the Russian Federation”, “Garant”, “Zakonbase”, “Federal Portal of the Legal Projects of the Russian Federation” 10. Moreover the
following official online pages were chosen as the resources of additional available legal and statistical data: “The Ministry of Internal affairs of the Russian Federation”, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation”, “Commissioner for the Rights of the Child in the Russian Federation” and “The official page of Kremlin”11. The analysis of this paper is based on the collected data
from the above-mentioned databases, primarily on the studied official governmental reports on the state of children in the Russian Federation,
10 Available at council.gov.ru/activity/legislation/laws/; consultant.ru; pravo.gov.ru; garant.ru;
zakonbase.ru; regulation.gov.ru/projects [accessed on 22 july 2020]
“Concluding Observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on Russia's reports on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child”12 and Russia’s reports on the “Concluding Observations” , the “National
Action Plans” (in this paper it was available to collect and analyse “National Action Plans” dated from 1995 to 2020), national legislation of the Russian Federation concerning family law and child rights, Decrees of the President of the Russian Federation, other relevant legal acts, projects and programs on child rights issues adopted over the past years, official statistics of the State Statistics Committee of the Russian Federation, as well as independently conducted research of the available published academic literature in the field of child rights and juvenile delinquency.
After the available material on child rights research had been obtained, the next step was to sort and exclude the outdated material. Therefore, the included collected material has current validity and the analysis shows the current situation on child rights and the most resent agenda. The criteria for the included material were the legal regulations and the governmental official documents, state reports and the reports on the Russian Federation conducted by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The excluded material were the general guidelines, various NGO’s recommendations, newspaper articles, interviews, the debates and other resources, that do not represent any official legal information. In total, it was possible to select 22 relevant legal materials on the child rights, which were analysed and structured into separate themes. In such manner, each theme was studied sequentially being related to the collected and analysed data in the discussion part at the end of the paper.
In the databases of selected published materials, the relevant official legal documents were found by entering in the search bar such concepts as “child rights in Russia”, “juvenile justice in Russia”, “juvenile system and delinquency” etc. The full list of collected documents is presented at the end of this paper in the “References” section. Having obtained the legal documents, that fit to the inclusion
12 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Consideration of reports submitted by States
parties under article 12 (1) of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Reports of States parties due in 2013 : Russian Federation, 27 July 2016, CRC/C/OPSC/RUS/1, available at: refworld.org/docid/5880ba704.html [accessed 19 April 2020]
criteria described before, the division into three themes of the qualitative content analysis was made: “Child Protection under the UN CRC”, “Contemporary Child Rights in Russia” and “Juvenile Justice and Delinquency”.
1) At the “Child Protection under the UN CRC” theme, the main problems associated with the child rights in Russia and their protection under the UN Convention are highlighted. This theme is based on the analysis of the collected legal documents, presented by Russia in the form of the “National Action Plan” that follows the assessments and core recommendations of the concluding reports of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child addressed to the Russian Federation.
2) At the “Contemporary Child Rights in Russia” theme, the reviewed material addresses the situation of child rights in the present time pursuing the future goals, established in the “National Action Plan for the Children of the Russian Federation of 2020”, comparing the document to the previous “National Action Plans” collected in the selected databases, that were available online in the open-access. Thus, this theme shows the difference between the previous and the contemporary documents, signifying the main themes in the national legislation of the Russian Federation.
3) At the “Juvenile Justice and Delinquency” theme, the system of juvenile justice is explained within Russian context, highlighting the child rights protection and its relevance to the field of Criminology. The juvenile justice system is analyzed in terms of the strategies, described in the latest “National Action Plan for the Children of the Russian Federation of 2020”, following one of the core recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Further, the juvenile justice and delinquency theme is supported by the analysis made on the provisions of the existing national legislation of the Russian Federation.
This paper contains the analysis of the official sources and publications, provided only in the reference list in the end. The research is not favouring any kind of ethnical, religious, race or sex criteria, nor expressing the favour to one or more preferences to the governmental authority(s) and other political considerations. The research is conducted solely for the scientific purposes, without expressing the author’s personal opinion. The research is done in the framework of the Malmö
University, respecting the policies and regulations of the University. The purpose of the paper is to provide a clear academic research in the selected topic with a possibility to refer to in the future research.
Contemporary strategy of the state policy in relation to child protection is formulated in a number of regulatory documents, specifically in the “Concept of the demographic policy of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2025”13, in
the “Concept of long-term socio-economic development of the Russian Federation for the period until 2020”14 and in the “National Action Plan for the Children of the
Russian Federation of 2020”. The analysis of the themes is based both on the above-mentioned legal documents of the Russian Federation and the reports of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child as a source of international law. These documents are also compared to their outdated versions available in chosen databases online in the open-access.
1. Child protection under the UN CRC Convention
The USSR joined the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990. In 1992 Russia, as its legal successor, presented the first report on the implementation of the Convention. Further, the UN Committee formulated their comments and recommendations in the addressed reports to the Russian Federation. Since that time, several policy documents and laws have been adopted to ensure practical implementation of the Convention’s requirements in Russia. In 1999, after Russia presented the second report, new recommendations were made by the Committee. However, after all the following reports, by 2020 not all of the UN Committee’s recommendations had been implemented. The main provisions of the recommendations were and remain as follows:
13 Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of 09.10.2007 N 1351 (as amended on
01.07.2014) "On approval of the Concept of the demographic policy of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2025" available at consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_71673/ [accessed on 12 August 2020]
14 Order of the Government of the Russian Federation of November 17, 2008 N 1662-r (as
amended on September 28, 2018) <On the Concept of long-term socio-economic development of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2020> (together with the “Concept of long-term socio-economic development of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2020 ") available at consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_82134/ [accessed on 12 August 2020]
- Creation at all levels (federal, regional, local) of an effective organizational mechanism for handling complaints from children and monitoring the observance of their rights.
- Involvement of civil society in solving childhood problems and protecting child rights, as well as overcoming the departmental division of responsibility for the child.
- Development of family forms of life arrangement for children, that are an alternative to placing children in state institutions, as well as creation of active work on the rehabilitation of ‘families at risk’.
- Adoption of laws on specialized juvenile justice system, focused on the rehabilitation of the child and its family environment.
The “Concluding Observations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child” following the consideration of the report submitted by the Russian Federation15 stated: ‘the Committee notes with concern, that since 2000 the State
party (Russian Federation) has not had a legally binding National Plan of Action’. In this regard, the UN Committee ‘recommended that the State Party (Russian Federation) ensures the coverage of new “National Strategy and related Action Plans” ’. However, only now after 20 years of discussion, the “National Action Plan in the interests of the children of the Russian Federation of 2020” was developed. “The National Action Plan” represents an integral part of the social policy of the Russian Federation and itself, is a system of measures to address the priority tasks of the life support of children, including the improvement of their quality of life, protection from violence and cruelty, the consequences of political, social, and interethnic conflicts, environmental and other disaster emergencies, as well as the creation of favorable conditions for child’s development.
Thus, referring back to the provisions of the UN Committee, the recommendations of 2000 started to be implemented at least on paper only in 2020, when the “National Action Plan” was developed and finally approved16. Important to
mention, that all the previous “National Action Plans”, that had been developed by the government had no legal force, therefore the document itself was only a recommendation and had no binding effect.
15 Report submitted by the Russian Federation in accordance with Article 44 of the UN Convention
on the Rights of the Child (Geneva, September 12-30, 2005)
16 The newest version- National Action Plan for the Children of the Russian Federation of 2020
All that concerns the creation of an effective system for handling the complaints from children was mentioned in recommendations of 2000. The institution of Ombudsmen for the Rights of the Child in the constituent entities of the Russian Federation has become an important issue for creation of the post of the Ombudsman under the President of the Russian Federation for the rights of the child17.
The final recommendation of the UN Committee concerning the creation of the juvenile justice system in the Russian Federation is, however, still not being fulfilled since being mentioned in the year of 2000. The government has started the work towards the creation of the entire mechanism of the juvenile justice in Russia, however until today there is no full functioning of the system. The results of this study are presented further in a separate theme “Juvenile Justice and Delinquency”.
2. Contemporary child rights in Russia
Today the child rights are regulated in Russia by the following basic laws: - The Constitution of the Russian Federation18.
- The Family Code of the Russian Federation19.
- Fundamentals of the legislation of the Russian Federation on the protection of public health20.
- The Federal law on Education21.
17 Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of September 1, 2009 No. 986
18 "The Constitution of the Russian Federation" (adopted by peoples vote on 12.12.1993 with
amendments approved during a nationwide vote on 01.07.2020) available at constitution.ru/en/10003000-01.htm [accessed on 22 July 2020]
19 "Family Code of the Russian Federation" dated December 29, 1995 N 223-FZ (as amended on
February 6, 2020) available at consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_8982/ [accessed on 22 July 2020]
20 Federal Law "On the Fundamentals of Health Protection of Citizens in the Russian Federation"
dated November 21, 2011 N 323-FZ (last edition) available at consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_121895/ [accessed on 22 July 2020]
21 Federal Law "On Education in the Russian Federation" dated December 29, 2012 N 273-FZ (last
- The law on the basic guarantees of the rights of the child in the Russian Federation22.
- The law on additional guarantees of social protection of orphans and children left without parental care23.
- The law on social protection of disabled people in the Russian Federation24.
In addition, there are the governmental Federal Target Programs (FTP) aimed at creating favorable conditions for children’s development and ensuring the protection of their rights.
State documents representing the “National Action Plans”, one after another, repeat that the strategic basis for improving the situation of child rights in the Russian Federation is to increase a standard of living for the population through modernisation of economy and development of social benefits.25 26 Furthermore,
Russia has continuously conducted the “National Action Plans for Children in the Russian Federation”, which are represented in the form of report for the “State Policy Guidelines”, normally conducted for a certain period (about 5-10 years). All the studied “National Action Plans” (1995-2018) were focused on the same solutions of important tasks of life support: protection of the rights and legitimate interests of children, improvement of mechanisms for their support, development and implementation of common social policy priorities for children at all levels of government. Thus, the main suggested areas of implementation of these “National Action Plans” were:
22 Federal Law "On Basic Guarantees of the Rights of the Child in the Russian Federation" of
24.07.1998 N 124-FZ (last edition) available at consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_19558/ [accessed on 22 July 2020]
23 Federal Law "On Additional Guarantees for Social Support of Orphans and Children Left Without
Parental Care" dated December 21, 1996 N 159-FZ (last edition) available at consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_12778/ [accessed on 22 July 2020]
24 Federal Law "On social protection of disabled people in the Russian Federation" of November
24, 1995 N 181-ФЗ (last edition) available at consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_8559/ [accessed on 22 July 2020]
25 The latest expired version- Decree of the President of the Russian Federation dated 01.06.2012 g.
No. 761 On the National Strategy of Action for Children 2012–2017 available at kremlin.ru/acts/bank/35418 [accessed on 19 April 2020]
26 The oldest version- Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of September 14, 1995 N
942 "On Approval of the Main Directions of State Social Policy to Improve the Situation of Children in the Russian Federation until 2000 (National Action Plan for Children)" available at GARANT system: base.garant.ru/184330/#ixzz6SXdSHk5l [accessed on 18 July 2020]
1) ensuring the protection of health and improving the quality of medical care for children;
2) developing education system and proper upbringing of children; 3) improving the economic conditions of children's life;
4) increasing the effectiveness of the state system of support for children in especially difficult circumstances.
Additionally, the “National Action Plans” (1995-2018) included measures to assist families in the maintenance and upbringing of children, child healthcare, assistance to children with special needs, legal support for the protection of childhood. All these strategies were repeated in all the following “National Action Plans” dated from 1995 to 2018, with their little improvement, as each “National Action Plan” contains of the same recommendations at the end. This can only be understood as the repeated target areas, that had not been improved from the year of the first “National Action Plan” to the following new ones. Moreover, every “National Action Plan” repeats the same targets – ‘to improve the economic stability of the country, to ensure the economic stability of the families’. These targets have not been achieved until nowadays.
However, having analysed the latest version of “The National Action Plan 2020”, the document itself has totally different structure and contains new data, that was not addressed previously. It was noticeable, that the document provides full spectrum of issues concerning the contemporary problems of child protection. The “National Action Plan 2020” consists of different themes, explaining the origin of the problem and their concrete solutions, that government is planning to perform. It has to be noted, that the “National Action Plan 2020” does not focus on the same targets, as all the previous did. In contrary, it raises several new contemporary problems, mentioned as:
- problems of refugee children,
- child discrimination and migration issues,
- illegal child adoption in Russia by foreign citizens, - children with deviant behaviour and minors under arrest, - neglected children,
- standard and living conditions of children of the North, - principles of legislation improvement.
All these above-mentioned mentioned themes and their origin had never been mentioned before in all the previous “National Action Plans” before 2020. The language and the structure of the document itself are presented more comprehensively compared to the previous documents of 1995-2018. Thus, the result of discussed content is well worked out and presented in the document, which finally shows all the problem areas of contemporary child rights protection, as well as their origin, statistical collected data and reasonable solutions, that had not been done in previously conducted “National Action Plans” of 1995-2018. It can be concluded, that the last “National Action Plan” represents totally different document, compared to all the previous, which shows the conducted work towards the child rights protection on a totally different level. Therefore, in order to continue promoting the work towards the child rights facilitation with a systematic update approach in the form of the new “National Action Plan”, the next period of 2018-2027 is declared as the “Decade of Childhood” in Russia.27
In order to ensure the interaction of all participants in the “National Action Plan’s” implementation, the Coordinating Council for the Decade of Childhood was established by the Russian government. This includes expert assessment of the activities’ implementation, as well as the preparation of proposals to improve the efficiency of the document’s implementation concerning the main actions. This is supposed to be carried out within the framework of 12 working groups formed at the Coordinating Council.
By having a look into detail, the latest “National Action Plan” itself defines national goals and strategic development objectives for the period until 2024, pursuant to which the national projects have been developed and approved. The document covers the issues of women as well, promoting employment possibilities for women as creating conditions for preschool education for children under the age of three years old. All above-mentioned is presented in the following national project “Demography”, that will provide full coverage of preschool education for children under 3 years old.
Another highlighted aspect is to strengthen the child healthcare system in Russia. Therefore, the government will continue the work aimed at:
- creating conditions for improving the healthcare system and well-being of child population;
27 The Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of May 29, 2017 No. 240 for the period of
- promoting a healthy lifestyle;
- preventing diseases among population;
- developing various programs for educational institutions, concerning parents, students and teachers;
- improving the system of education, recreation and healthcare improvement for children aimed at strengthening the material and technical base of educational, summer health-supporting organizations;
- creating up to date favourable accessible environment for learning and education, recreation and health improvement for disabled children and children with special needs;
- developing regional target programs, providing reconstruction of old and construction of new educational institutions to meet the requirements of the Russian legislation.
The above-mentioned targets explain, that the Russian government prioritised the preservation of the National Health, which would facilitate the improvement of the demographic situation of the country. The same concerns the school feeding system, that must provide quality balanced nutrition for students, taking into account their daily need for nutrients and energy. The prevalence of various pathological conditions in children’s health determines the importance in improving the organization of meals for students in schools.
Although, as it was stated in the previous “National Action Plans” of 1995-2018, the great attention had paid by the government to fulfil the recovery of child alimony, the result of this systematic work was seen in the newest “National Action Plan 2020”. It showed that the preservation of growing tendency to reduce the balance of unfinished enforcement proceedings on the collection of alimony payments has been reduced. In accordance with the Decree of the President of Russia in 200828, the Fund was created to support children in difficult life situations.
The main goal of the Fund is to support social programs and projects aimed at solving the problems of children and families in difficult life situations.
Having analyzed the latest “National Action Plan 2020”, it can be concluded that it is a totally different document by its structure, targets, solutions and raised new problems, compared to the previous ones dated from 1995. Finally, the
28 Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of March 26, 2008 N 404 "On the
establishment of the Fund to support children in difficult life situations" available at rg.ru/2008/03/29/deti-dok.html [accessed on 27 July 2020]
recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child of 2000 are reflected in the form of solutions in the “National Action Plan 2020”, specifically aimed at developing the separate juvenile justice system in Russia. After 20 years of discussion, the process has begun and the system was created. Its further development and implementation in the Russian Federation is analyzed in the next theme “Juvenile Justice and Delinquency”.
3. Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Development of the general legal theory on the child rights, reflecting a new political situation in Russia (after the USSR) and a new scientific approach to the child as a special subject of law, began only in the mid-90s of the last century (Abramov, 2007). After the adoption of the Convention in Russia, the academic society started to collect data, that introduced the content of the Convention, as well as to produce academic publications on child rights in the society, their legal status and protection of their rights and legitimate interests. Abramov explains, that this process led to the establishment of a juvenile justice system in Russia, that likewise began to be an object of a new field of research. Sufficient attention has been given by the government to the formation of juvenile justice system in recent years as well, while only a small part of the population in Russia has no clear idea of what this “specialized” system is (Kozyavin & Belousova, 2015). In this way, Kozyavin et al. explains, that the centennial period of various models of juvenile justice functioning in the world, as in the pre-revolutionary Russia (1910), proved their effectiveness in protecting the rights and legitimate interests of children and youth. In various branches of law (constitutional, civil, family, administrative, criminal, etc.), there is a huge array of regulations that are somehow related to the rights of the child, where a large amount of data has been accumulated containing recommendations on the implementation of the rights of minors in various areas of society, improving institutions responsible for child well-being. The supervision of compliance with laws by bodies and institutions of the system for child neglect and juvenile delinquency prevention is carried out by prosecution authorities in Russia29. There are also specialised judges, that work with judicial cases of
juveniles either in the civil courts or the so-called “juvenile courts” (Boyko, 2010).
29 Article 10(3) of the Federal Law of June 24, 1999 N 120-FZ "On the fundamentals of the system
for the prevention of neglect and juvenile delinquency" (with amendments and additions) available at base.garant.ru/12116087/#ixzz6UrEhmuzv [accessed on 12 August 2020]
The juvenile court considers issues of child neglect; status offenses; criminal offenses.
Nowadays the Russian juvenile justice system in its beginning is fundamentally different from other countries, primarily in terms of the purpose of its establishment. Thus, it is seen as a judicial and legal system, the main task of which is to protect the rights of minors. The basis of this system is made up of guardianship and trusteeship bodies, commissions on minors (these are the institutes on minors in criminal and penal law cases), as well as a system of judicial, law enforcement, medical and social institutions for minors. The definition of ‘juvenile justice system’, that comes from the legal document30,states: ‘Juvenile justice is a judicial
system that administers juvenile justice and has the tasks of judicial protection of the rights and legitimate interests of minors and the trial of juvenile delinquency and crime cases’. However, the Law on a Juvenile Justice System in Russia is a draft-law, therefore is not approved yet to have legal force. Per contra, giving the legal force to this law would facilitate the establishment of the juvenile justice system in Russia on its legal basis.
Despite the measures taken by the state authorities of the Russian Federation, working mechanisms for protecting the rights of children, as the most powerless part of the Russian population, continue to be insufficient. It is enough to mention, that the urgent recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child from 2000 on the need to establish a juvenile justice system in Russia had been ignored for 20 years, despite the repeated assurances of the Russian government to implement these recommendations. According to the “National Action Plan 2020” currently only the first steps have been taken in this direction. So far, no effective mechanisms have been created to monitor the observance of child rights: the experiment with Regional Ombudsmen for child rights has remained as a local experiment, lacking legislative or organizational basis. Thus, the laws on the Ombudsman for child rights were adopted and implemented only in some regions of the country.
30 Draft of the Federal Law of the Russian Federation "On the Foundations of the Juvenile Justice
System" available at
oprf.ru/ru/about/structure/structurenews/newsitem/13780?PHPSESSID=u9t57icjkdtsie944iiv3kbcc 2 [accessed on 21 July 2020]
In the Russian Federation a first juvenile court was created in 200431 in Taganrog
city in the framework of the implemented juvenile justice system, but currently this practice has not either been widely developed in all of the other Russian regions. In essence, the idea of established juvenile court in Taganrog was limited to the allocation of special judges for minors to a separate building. The peculiarity of the court’s work was the active involvement of children in the participation in court hearings. To consideration of the juvenile composition of the Taganrog City Court are included criminal and civil cases related to the protection of the rights of minors: - deprivation of parental rights;
- establishing the fact of recognition of paternity;
- determination of the child's place of residence and the procedure for communicating with him/her;
- protection of property and non-property rights of minors.
Initially, the first juvenile court in Russian history was established in 1910 in Saint Petersburg, then in Moscow and some other cities (Chernova, 2015). After the governmental system had changed, the established juvenile system in Russia has stopped its existence and only now the government of the Russian Federation tries to revive the system, that had existed earlier. In the years of Soviet government, the problems of juvenile justice were ignored most of the time. Only from the 90s in Russia, the questions of juvenile justice started to reappear.
In contemporary Russia, the juvenile courts are not presented in all of the regions and juvenile cases are considered by courts of general jurisdiction. There is no specific law entered into force on juvenile justice in the Russian Federation. The legislative base on minors are the Family Code of the Russian Federation, the Federal Laws "On the judicial system in the Russian Federation", "On the foundations of the system for the prevention of neglect and juvenile delinquency" and a number of other related regional laws.
According to the statistical data of the “National Plan 2020” only a small half of the population of minors in Russia are aware about their rights. The document explains, that almost all Russian minors do not know, where they have to refer in case of abuse of their rights and moreover, they cannot often see whether their rights are
31 The Resolution of the Presidium of the Rostov Regional Court dated 09.01.2004 "On additional
measures to improve juvenile justice in the Rostov region" available at
abused at all. This is also confirmed by the following indicators mentioned in the document:
- child crime, - drug addiction,
- substance abuse, including drunkenness and alcoholism of minors,
- an increase in the number of children, who have abandoned their families and child educational institutions,
- rates of suicide among minors (according to the General Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation, Russia occupies one of the first places in the world),
- entering into early-age sexual intercourse among adolescents and its consequences of the demographic security (according to health authorities, every fifth abortion occurs among adolescent girls under the age of 18).
Discussion and Conclusion
By the beginning of the 21st century a system of protecting the child rights at the international level has developed in the world, which is supported by relevant legal documents. As for Russia, the main tasks of the state are the practical implementation of the Convention’s principles and the UN recommendations. Based on the analysis of the previous research, the author has found out that the child rights as a value and a legal field in Russia appeared only in the 90s of the past century. In the pre-Soviet period of child rights development a child itself was considered as an object of parental authority, in Soviet Russia it was seen as an object of the state policy. Only after the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which enshrined a child as a subject of rights, the process of bringing Russian legislation in line with the requirements of international standards in the field of child rights began. The conducted analysis on the norms of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child implementation as the main international document in the field of child rights in Russian legislation allows to draw the following conclusions:
- the norms of the Convention are not implemented directly in the Russian legislation, but through the transformation of these norms into the Russian laws, i.e. implementation of the Russian legislation in compliance with the international law;
- currently the Russian legislation mainly complies with the basic principles of the Convention. Therefore, it remains a lot to be done to bring the Russian legislation into full compliance with the requirements of the Convention.
Based on the analysed reports of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and Russia’s responses in the form of “National Action Plans”, it can be concluded that, despite numerous laws, Decrees of the President of the Russian Federation, other normative legal acts, projects and programs on child issues adopted over the past years, there have been no cardinal positive changes in the direction of improving the situation of children in Russia. However, having analysed the latest “National Action Plan 2020”, the conducted work towards the child rights is seen on a totally different level, where the responsible authorities have made a big impact to investigate the origins of the problems, that still haven’t been solved until today. Thus, the new solutions are there to function, which give the field of child rights much more priority than it had been before, including the new established themes in this field that facilitate the adoption of the new projects and regulations in the legislation of the Russian Federation on child rights.
As for the juvenile justice system in Russia, the analysis shows the incomplete system, that is only in its beginning, is being implemented in several Russian regions. However, the core recommendation of the UN to the Russian Federation on the implementation of such system was given 20 years ago. Meanwhile, Russia’s reports to the UN Commission on the Child rights had been continuously repeating the same actions from 1995 to 2019, however no results were implemented. During the 25 year period in Russia (from 1995 to 2020), the attempts to develop and approve the “National Action Plan in the interests of children for the next years” had been made twice, but the document was never adopted. Meanwhile, the development and approval of the “National Action Plan” in Russia had been another core recommendation of the UN from the year of 2000. Thus, the approval of the “National Action Plan of 2020” was meaningful fulfilment of the UN recommendations on the child rights protection in Russia.32 Therefore, the approval
of the document led to the necessity in creation of the new legislation on the child
32 The report of the Interdepartmental Commission for the Preparation of Proposals on the
Procedure for Coordination of Protection of Minors of the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation March 13, 2011
rights in Russia, highlighting the main themes: the juvenile justice system, the child healthcare and demography, the legal child adoption, the protection of child rights abuse, the strengthening and developing guarantees of family support. The above-mentioned themes are legally established in the amended Constitution of the Russian Federation of 2020. However, the new themes of the Russian legislation do not cover the problem areas of the analysed previous research on child rights in this paper, in particular the absence of legal regulations or governmental projects on the following issues:
- the specialised teaching of child rights in schools,
- the promotion and facilitation of work conducted by the child rights organisations in Russia,
- the establishment of special projects or programs for children on understanding of their rights.
After all, the new themes of the Russian legislation were established in the amended Constitution of the 2020 as well as the “National Action Plan of 2020” was adopted, having fulfilled the core recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child of the 2000, which gave the new beginning of the child rights protection in the Russian Federation.
Since the conducted analysis is based for the most part on the respective legal acts on the child rights in the Russian Federation, the research of this paper is limited to the approved materials in this field. Moreover, the research is restricted to the definitions concerning the child rights, that are used in the Russian context, which cannot be assimilated with the same definitions used internationally.
Particularly, no sufficient research on the efficacy of the Convention on the example of other countries has been done, which would be significantly important in the situation of the Convention’s adoption into the national legislation, that makes it to be a special case.
The previous research on juvenile justice system is limited only to those countries, where the system is implemented. The system itself is not world-wide established and therefore collecting materials on juvenile justice system was a challenging task, which required a lot of information to be processed and analysed.
The forecast of this paper concerning the future situation of children in the Russian Federation is determined by the new themes in the national legislation and the new governmental solutions in the “National Action Plan of 2020”.
Taking into consideration the established themes on the child rights, the research of this paper specifies the need in the unique approach towards the child legislation, stating that the majority of children, due to their age, are naturally not being clearly aware of what it means to have rights as a child and what kind of rights they might be, specifically in understanding and using the Convention in everyday life. Therefore, it is recommended to create further research on how to teach the Convention and to promote the awareness of child rights in schools by teachers in Russia, which is still not enough developed area of research.
With the new amendments to the Russian Constitution, that the Russian citizens have voted for in 2020, there are 261 articles that have been amended. Therefore, as the situation is completely new, it has to be further researched in order to understand its effectiveness on the child rights protection.
The tendency of upgrading national legislation, that would correspond more to the international law, requires constant following of existing research likewise. For instance, from 2020 Sweden is going to convert the Convention from the source of international law into its national legislation. Therefore, this paper outlines the importance and necessity in the future implementation of the Convention into the national law of foreign countries. In such way, the promotion and protection of the child rights by the governments would not be only the international obligation, but will become a national one.
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List of abbreviations UN - The United Nations RF - The Russian Federation
CRC - The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 UNDHR - The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 FL - Federal Law of the Russian Federation
UNCRC - The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child FTP - Federal Target Program