Committee on the Rights of the Child considers report of Ukraine

28 January 2011

The Committee on the Rights of the Child today examined the fourth periodic report of Ukraine on how it is implementing the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Ukraine’s initial report on the implementation of the Optional Protocol on children in armed conflict.

Introducing the reports, Ravil Safiullin, Minister in charge of the State Service of Youth and Sport of Ukraine, said that Ukraine had created a department of child rights in the office of the ombudsman for human rights and had adopted the national programme and action plan for child protection up to 2016. The number of children born in Ukraine had increased and the country had also seen a 17 per cent drop in infant and child mortality, due to technological advancements in health and the new integrated approaches to health services. The number of children with disabilities remained high at 2 per cent of the total child population and about 1.2 per cent of children were orphaned or without parental care. Ukraine had carried out an analysis of domestic laws and was preparing a reform to address the issues of child protection from exploitation and abuse and had introduced criminal responsibility for child pornography. Involvement of children less than 18 years of age in the armed forces was prohibited, but they could enrol in military academies with parental consent. Particular attention was paid to training of troops before they were sent abroad to international peacekeeping missions, Mr. Safiullin concluded.

In preliminary concluding remarks, Dainius Puras, the Committee Expert serving as Rapporteur for the report of Ukraine on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, said that there was a need for better coordination in decision-making, and better monitoring and improved data collection for improved policy-making. The Committee urged Ukraine to move ahead with reform, particularly to develop child-friendly services in many sensitive fields such as juvenile justice. There were lot of hidden resources and social capital in Ukraine and the Rapporteur hoped that the best way would be found to use this capital in the implementation of the provisions of the Convention.

Also in preliminary concluding remarks, Hadeel Al-Asmar, the Committee Expert serving as Rapporteur for the report of Ukraine on the implementation of the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, said that Ukraine gave a lot to its children, and more needed to be done on training, data collection, rehabilitation and recovery, so that the children of Ukraine would flourish.

Committee Experts raised a series of questions and concerns during the discussion, namely that many important decisions still seemed to be declarative and lacked political will to be implemented in practice and that the recent administrative reform threatened sustainability of the existing child protection system. Further information was requested about coordination of the implementation of the Convention and of the National Action Plan, with particular attention to the distribution of financial resources and the funding for children programmes; about measures taken to combat corruption, particularly corruption of judges; and about cooperation with and the participation of civil society in legislation and monitoring. Committee members further wished to know what was being done about the still high mortality rates of infants and children; how the shift from medical to primary health care systems was undertaken; clarity of the procedures for removal of children from family care; and the strategy for the prevention, protection, rehabilitation of street children and children involved with prostitution.

Concerning the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, Experts wished to hear more about dissemination of the Optional Protocol and inclusion of peace education in school curricula, the legal position of Ukraine concerning prevention of recruitment of children by non-state actors and the possibilities of receiving children that had been involved in armed conflict, and the legislation prohibiting exports of arms and light weapons to countries which recruited children in armed conflict.

The Committee will release its formal, written concluding observations and recommendations on the report of Ukraine towards the end of its three-week session, which will conclude on Friday, 4 February 2011.

The delegation of Ukraine included representatives from the State Service of Youth and Sport, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the State Department of Adoption and Protection of the Rights of the Child.

As one of 193 States parties to the Convention, Ukraine is obliged to present periodic reports to the Committee on its efforts to comply with the provisions of the treaty. The delegation was on hand this morning to present the report and to answer questions raised by Committee Experts.

The Committee will reconvene in public at 10 a.m. on Monday, 31 January 2011 when it will review the two initial reports of Mexico, on the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (CRC/C/OPSC/MEX/1) and on the Optional Protocol on children and armed conflict (CRC/C/OPAC/MEX/1).

Reports of Ukraine

The fourth periodic report of Ukraine on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC/C/UKR/4) presents measures taken by the Government of Ukraine during the period 2002-2006 to protect children and their rights, which include, among others, improving the legal and regulatory framework for protecting children, including the incorporation of international legal standards into domestic legislation; reforming the State system for placing orphans and children without parental care; strengthening social protection for low-income families with children; developing the network of institutions and establishments working in the interests of children; and combating HIV/AIDS. During this same period, a number of international instruments for the protection of the rights of children entered into force in the country and were incorporated into domestic law, which confirms Ukraine’s intention to comply with international legal instruments relating to children and the protection of human rights. The domestic legislation amendments adopted in the period 2002-2006 deal with, among other issues, protecting children against violent acts and amplifying liability for child trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. The Government implemented a number of programmes to improve health care, create favourable conditions for bearing and rearing children, ensure the social protection of children, combat HIV/AIDS and improve the quality of education, such as “Children of Ukraine”, “The Nation’s Reproductive Health 2006-2015”, and programmes on child homelessness and child neglect. However, inadequate funding complicates the implementation of these programmes, particularly in small towns and villages and in respect of health-care infrastructure.
The National Action Plan for the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child drawn up in 2006 defines the Government’s strategy for the protection of children. The Comprehensive Programme for the implementation of the National Poverty Reduction Strategy was adopted for the period up to 2009, which defined the basic directions for poverty reduction by enhancing employment and the labour market, raising work-related incomes, developing social insurance as preventive protection from loss of income and promoting social support and social services for the most vulnerable population groups. To address the declining number of pupils, particularly in rural schools, the Government has developed a model of a fundamentally new type of single-level school, “the family school”, which is a low-fill-rate general-education institution set up in rural areas to provide quality education for pupils of elementary school age residing in an area with a difficult demographic situation. In 2004, the Supreme Court established a juvenile justice reform working group and has prepared a blueprint for establishing and developing the juvenile justice system. However, the country does not yet have a comprehensive juvenile justice system, which requires a thorough reform of the law enforcement and judicial systems. A problem that required attention was the work of marginalized groups of children who are involved in activities related to the worst forms of child labour, namely use of children in prostitution, pornography, forced labour and criminal activities.
The initial report of Ukraine on the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict (CRC/OPAC/UKR/1) describes measures of implementation of the Optional Protocol. The Optional Protocol has equal status with domestic law and its provisions have been disseminated to the public at large through the media, international and national conferences, round tables, seminars and training sessions. In Ukraine, children are prohibited from taking part in military operations or armed conflict and children under the age of 18 years are not conscripted into the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The Child Protection Act sets forth the Ukrainian legal principles prohibiting child paramilitary organizations and groups and pro-war and violence propaganda.

Presentation of Report

RAVIL SAFIULLIN, Minister of State Service of Youth and Sport of Ukraine, said that in the 20 years since Ukraine had ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it had created a positive framework for the respect of children’s rights. Ukraine had been undertaking a reform of the government apparatus, and child protection had been one of its objectives. The child protection function had been distributed among various departments so as to ensure a quick and swift reaction. The department of child rights had been created in the office of the ombudsman for human rights. Ukraine had adopted the national programme and action plan for child protection up to 2016, which unfortunately had suffered a setback due to the unfortunate macroeconomic situation; for example in 2010, the programme had received only 2 per cent of the funds needed. Data collection and statistics had been improved, and several databases had been built and put in place to collect information regarding children. The total number of children born in Ukraine had increased and the country had also seen a 17 per cent drop in infant and child mortality, due to technological advancement in health and new integrated approaches to health services.

Unfortunately, the number of children with disabilities remained high at 2 per cent of the total child population and about 1.2 per cent of the total children population were orphaned or without parental care. The Government was developing an integrated system of inclusive education for the benefit of children with disabilities, but the challenge remained in the creation of integrated health and social services for disabled children. The Government had achieved good results in support for the family, thanks to measures such as lump sum payments for the birth of a child. Social assistance provided to children homes had been increased and since 2001 new kinds of social assistance provided by the State had been introduced for child adoption. There was a 50 per cent decrease in the number of street children in the period 2006-2010. Children without parental supervision and living in poverty were more vulnerable to child exploitation and child labour. Ukraine had carried out an analysis of domestic laws and was preparing a reform to address the issues of child protection from exploitation and abuse and had introduced criminal responsibility for child pornography.

The involvement of children who were less than 18 years of age in the armed forces was prohibited in Ukraine, but they could enrol in military academies with parental consent. Particular attention was paid to the training of troops before they were sent abroad to international peacekeeping missions, Mr. Safiullin said. The legal principles regulating involvement of children in armed conflict in Ukraine were laid down in the national law on the rights of children. It stipulated the prohibition of recruitment and involvement of children to armed forces, armed conflict, and paramilitary organizations. The Optional Protocol was widely disseminated in the country and Ukraine was aware of the many things still to be done in the implementation of the full provisions of this Protocol.

 

Questions by Experts

DAINIUS PURAS, the Committee Expert serving as Rapporteur for the report of Ukraine, said that Ukraine had been facing the difficult situation of prolonged transition in which the inherited social and health infrastructure had not been sufficient to meet the demands, and the new infrastructure still needed to be developed. There were many pressures and temptations in Ukraine to regress to “simple solutions” which were ineffective, punitive and repressive, approaches that would in the long run reinforce the cycle of violence, intolerance, social exclusion and stigmatisation. It was possible that some principles of the Convention were misunderstood by some sections of the Government and the society.

The need for a political will to define clear directions for child protection policies and to move ahead was particularly important in the region of Eastern Europe and that was why the Committee supported the intentions of the Government to proceed to reforms so that the interests of children were protected in the best possible way. The report indicated the capacity to recognise problems in the area of the implementation of the Convention, indicating the break from the legacy of the former ideology in Eastern Europe which had been based on hiding problems which had resulted in a huge gap between the world of documents, declarations and speeches, on one side and the grim reality on the other. The Committee wished to urge the Government to close this gap as much as possible and the concern still remained that many important decisions still seemed to be declarative and lacked political will to be implemented in practice. The Rapporteur asked which body coordinated the implementation of the Convention, and expressed concern that the recent administrative reform could have threatened the sustainability of the existing child protection system and might lead to the loss of institutional memory, databases, and experienced staff.

The Committee further wished to know more about the subordination of child protection authorities at the local level, about the status of the implementation of the National Action Plan and about measures taken to reduce de-facto discrimination of vulnerable children, including children with disabilities, children living with HIV/AIDS, and refugee and Roma children. Mr. Puras also asked about the position of the Government regarding facts on violence from Ukrainian authorities towards children and adolescents during interrogation and pre-trial situations, some of which had led to adolescents’ suicides. What was the reaction of authorities, what had been learned in order to prevent such cases in the future and was the police trained at preventing torture and degrading treatment? Could the delegation clarify the general situation on corporal punishment which although banned was still practiced, particularly in families?

Other Experts then asked a number of questions, pertaining to, among other things, the distribution of financial resources and the funding for children programmes; the structure, objectives and strategies of poverty reduction programmes; on corruption, Ukraine had a problem with corruption and what was the Government doing to combat this; the statistical system for analysis of data on a national level; the definition of the child and legal ages, particularly for boys and girls; on legislation concerning child protection, how did the adoption system function and how different was it from the social system; and who had the authority to intervene if social services had not been functioning properly in cases of child abuse.

Committee members further wished to know what the State intended to do about the still high rate of infant mortality, and about the high rate of death of children from external causes. The Committee appreciated the appointment of the special department for children rights in the ombudsman’s office and requested further information on the make up and professional requirements of this institution, and the participation of children in its creation. An Expert noted that the report provided substantive information about cooperation with international organizations, but not enough information was provided on how the Government was working with civil society in Ukraine so that they could participate in legislation and monitoring in a sustainable manner. Were prescribed penalties for failing to register the birth of the child within the first month the most effective incentive and what was being done to ensure that Roma and other vulnerable children were properly covered by the registration process?

On dissemination and training, an Expert said that Ukraine had done much to disseminate the Convention; nevertheless, it had been observed that some professional categories dealing with children had a negative attitude towards the Convention, for example, that knowing their rights would make children cheeky. This pointed to the need to not only disseminate the provisions of the Convention but to make them understood. Were dissemination materials taking this into account and were parents among those targeted for dissemination? Did the children of Ukraine know their rights under the Convention, for example their right to be heard in school, the classroom, courts and in the family? What initiatives were in place by the Government and schools to ensure the implementation of this right and to ensure that children’s voices were heard?

Response by the Delegation

In response to a question about the reform carried out in Ukraine to date, the delegation explained that the reform tried to streamline approaches and did affect the-then-called Ministry of Youth and Sport, but there were no foundations for concern and alarm. The family functions of the Ministry had fully been transferred to the Ministry of Science, Education, Youth and Sport. The change of name in the Ministry would not change the services it provided and children would be given appropriate attention. The population of Ukraine had decreased by 6 million over the past 15 years, representing the loss of 400,000 per year mainly due to low birth rate. The steady drop in the population was a matter of concern for the Government and the President had declared an objective of increasing the population. Infant and young child mortality rates had seen a decrease and the Government was doing its utmost to ensure that the needs of young children would be fully taken into account by the new Ministry.

The creation of the department for children in the ombudsman’s office had been recommended by this Committee during the presentation of the second periodic report of Ukraine. In addition to the establishment of this specialised department, child protection and gender equality were mainstreamed throughout the work of the Secretariat and the function of the Ombudsmen. Ukraine was trying to deal with child related issues including violence against children. Those issues had been hidden in the past and the Government was now trying to get to the true picture of the situation and detect the essence of what was going on.

Responding to questions on the justice system in Ukraine, and particularly on freedom of speech and the right of children to be heard, the delegation said that according to the Constitution, each citizen including children had a right to express themselves, to free thoughts and to be heard. Those were the provisions of general laws. Children could express their views in court and in the public through the media. On combating corruption and in particular corruption in the justice system, the delegation said that the revised bill had been through the first reading and had been adopted in its entirety. To reduce corruption, judicial reform has been carried out in Ukraine and as part of this reform there was a new focus on the qualification and appointment of judges.

On the issue of discrepancy of the legal age for marriage for boys and girls, the delegation said that the legal age for marriage for girls was 17 and for boys 18 years of age. The legislation allowed children entering into marriage at the age of 16, by a Court decision and when in the special interest of the child. Those children would have full legal capacity and would not be deprived of protection and guardianship of their parents. Birth registration must be undertaken within a month after the birth and legislation defined penalties for failure to do so. The Government had met with Roma non-governmental organizations and the issue of registration of Roma children had never been raised.

Committee Experts then asked a number of follow-up questions, including the child’s right to privacy; the compatibility of national legislation with international obligations, particularly with regard to unaccompanied children and minors; and the number of children in Ukraine who had not been registered. Responding, the delegation said that international obligations took primacy over domestic law and represented the backbone of legislation in Ukraine. Early marriages before the age of 16 were an exception, and would take place only when in the best interest of the child, for example in case of pregnancy. To the knowledge of the delegation, there were no cases of unregistered children, while the number of parents being late with the registration was minimal.

The delegation said that the inter-departmental commission for child protection in the Ministry of Youth was a public body with representatives of various ministries and the United Nations Children’s Fund. It had been established to discuss cross-cutting issues that requested round table format and could not be dealt with through official channels. This Commission adopted the annual report on the status of children, and took up a number of other issues such as the demographic situation, vaccination, and the Optional Protocols. The head of the Commission had the authority to contact local authorities and raise issues that the Commission felt had not been properly addressed. The National Plan of Action had been adopted in 2009 as a law; unfortunately, the failure in adopting the plan of measures and the state budget in 2010 meant it had not been possible to implement all planned activities, including those related to child health, social protection and others. The National Plan of Action for 2011 had been developed and agreed with all government bodies, while the budget would not be an issue. The Government had developed a set of indicators for monitoring of the impact of the plan which would start this year. Financial resources to each area were allocated based on the national statistics on education, health and social services.

Responding to the question on statistics, the delegation explained that the DevInfo system had been developed in cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund which had been transferred to the Ministry. The DevInfo was complementing the existing data collection systems. The uniformed data collection system referred to two aspects: orphaned children and children in difficult situations. Concerning domestic violence and protection of children from violence in the family, the delegation said that if the life and health of a child was seriously threatened, child care services could immediately decide to remove the child from the family setting. Within 24 hours the case must be referred to the court which would decide whether to remove the child and place him or her in alternative care. If within a year the threat to health and safety continued, the court would consider depriving parents of their parental rights.

There were over 200 non-governmental organizations working in Ukraine. The Government was very open to working with civil society organizations; for example they were consulted in the preparation of the National Plan of Action, while a group of 26 non-governmental organizations discussed proposals of bills and laws, the issues of finance and others. Out of 17 million families in Ukraine, 6 million were families with children; some 25,000 families were living in poverty and it was assumed that those families were those where the views of children were not taken into account or respected. A child had a right to be heard in courts, and their views were heard on an obligatory basis by guardianship services.

Further Questions by Experts

DAINIUS PURAS, the Committee Expert serving as Rapporteur for the report of Ukraine, in a second round of questions and comments, said that Ukraine had an unprecedented mortality and morbidity crisis over the past two decades, largely compounded by the lack of skills to respond to new challenges, which required a paradigm shift from medical to public health services. How did the Government undertake this shift and how did it address mental health? Concerning alternative care which had over 100,000 children in the system, the Rapporteur asked how the coordination between agencies was done and how it was institutionalised at the local level. What was Ukraine doing to respond to the World Health Organization declaration on children with intellectual disabilities and how would it impact the Government policy and practice on child care institutions?

Other Experts than asked a number of questions, including on making hospitals baby friendly; prevention of abandonment of children in hospitals; procedures for the removal of children from family care, placement plans and shortening of time spent in alternative care; and the strategy for the prevention, protection and rehabilitation of street children and children involved with prostitution. Experts also wished to know more about measures for parenting support and particularly to single and working parents in difficulties, including institutions and community-based initiatives to help parents raise the children, day-care and benefits such as paternity leave.

Turning to unaccompanied children requesting asylum, a Committee member asked what the global situation of those children was and if they had access to basic services even before their status in the country was determined. In order to claim asylum, the children needed legal guardians and representatives, who in some provinces were not appointed. Was it possible to speed up consideration of some cases that had already taken a long time? How was the best interest of the child taken into account in the case of unaccompanied children requesting asylum?

The delegation was also asked about the juvenile justice system in Ukraine and noted that the establishment of the system had been abandoned in 2010 under the pressure of some groups which saw in it a clash with religious principles. What was the status of the work now? How did the Specialised Colleges work and what were their competencies? The legislation set the criminal responsibility at 16 years of age and defined some acts for which criminal responsibility was 14; however, it emerged that according to the legislation criminal responsibility was 11 for socially dangerous acts, but it was not clear what those were. Could the delegation comment on the criminal responsibility for children, children in conflict with the law and children in contact with the law?

Another Committee member noted that the process of international adoption was lengthy and complicated and opened space for corruption and asked why the Government resisted signing the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions. What was the Government doing to accelerate the implementation of the national action plan on improving adolescent health, another Expert asked? What was the situation with teenage abortions and what was the minimum legal age for adolescents to seek medical health and consultations without parental consent? The Chairperson referred to the high number of children under 15 - some 400,000 of them - who were working illegally in coal mines, prostitution, et cetera and asked what the Government was doing to address this issue.

Response by the Delegation

Concerning orphaned children and children without parental care in Ukraine, the delegation confirmed that their numbers had declined from 104,000 in 2006 to 98,500 in 2010. The Government was aware that those numbers were rather high and that much still needed to be done; the measures undertaken now aimed at reducing the number of institutions, improving the quality of life for children in institutions and supporting their socialisation and preparation for family life. Ukrainian legislation defined orphans as children whose parents were dead and children deprived of parental care for different reasons. Asked about the procedures to deprive children of parental care, the delegation explained that the removal of a child from a family was only done under a court decision.

The Government, civil society and local authorities were doing their utmost to ensure that Roma children realised their right to education, the delegation said, and went on to explain the system of preschool education in Ukraine. It could accept children as young as two months and was currently covering about 61 per cent of children of preschool age. The preschool education system was not fully in line with the needs of families, so the Government had designed the concept and plan of development to the year 2017, in order to put in place alternative forms of preschool education and increase the coverage.

Responding to questions on high mortality rates of infants and children, the delegation said that there were a number of programmes addressing child, infant and maternal mortality, including the promotion and support to breastfeeding in child-friendly hospitals, schools for future parents, clinics for future mothers on pregnancy and newborn care, and education on caring for children until the age of three. With regard to hard-to-reach families, systematic work was being undertaken in identifying those families and in maintaining contact with them to ensure appropriate medical monitoring during pregnancies and after childbirth. During pregnancy consultations, the utmost was being done to identify and diagnose disabilities, in which case social workers would get involved to work with parents, explain and educate.

On the reform of the health system, the delegation said it was an extremely important issue and was monitored by the President. The system faced a number of important challenges, from resources, to incompatibility with contemporary health challenges. The reform would involve payments for health services, creation of university clinics with latest professional requirements and technology, and other measures. A whole range of measures had been developed to address the risk behaviour of youth, health education and promotion, and awareness-raising on various health risks and issues, in cooperation with civil society, parents, and other sections of the society. Families with children enjoyed systematic support which started with pregnancy; parental leave was given to mothers or fathers, depending on the choice of parents. Concerning renunciation of newborns, the delegation explained that their numbers were declining, as a result of systematic work which involved medical personnel and social workers, and support systems for mothers.

The legislative reform had increased sanctions for racially or religiously motivated crimes, discrimination and intolerance, said the delegation. Educational services and the police had been working together to address the problem of radical youth groups such as skinheads, and the law had been drafted to enable the authorities to deal with xenophobic behaviours.

The draft concept on juvenile justice had been rejected, the delegation confirmed and said the Ministry of Justice changed some terminology and approaches used in the draft concept, and it was being further developed by the Working Group. It would develop approaches focused on the prevention of juvenile crimes through educational approaches and rehabilitation for minors committing offences, among others. The current legislation contained provisions on minors and juvenile offenders, in line with international standards. Criminal responsibility started at the age of 14 and the legislation contained the procedure on how the sanctioning was done. Asked to comment on offenders between the ages of 11 and 14 years who committed socially dangerous crimes, the delegation explained that they were placed under the responsibility of a judge who would decide if the child would be placed in an institution for a maximum duration of five years.

As to educational colonies for minors, the delegation said there were ten of them in Ukraine, one of which was girls-only, which were serving as centres for social adaptation, education and re-socialisation. In accordance with Ukrainian law, there were 18 rehabilitation centres in which children could be only placed by a court decision. Children were entitled to legal assistance and contact with their families.

Turning to unaccompanied minor asylum seekers, the delegation acknowledged the problem was the absence of an official medical procedure to ascertain the age of the child.

Asked for further information on the large number of children working in dangerous situations, the delegation said that courts and law enforcement agencies were involved in identifying and sanctioning enterprises where violations were found. Ukraine was conducting a research in child labour in informal sectors of the economy. The figure of 400,000 children quoted earlier by the Committee was a figure from 1997.

Questions by Experts on the Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict

HADEEL AL-ASMAR, the Committee Expert serving as Rapporteur for the report of Ukraine on the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, expressed a number of concerns of the Committee in relation to the implementation of the provisions of the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict. The report did not provide clear information about the direct applicability of the Optional Protocol in domestic law. How was the general knowledge on the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict assessed? The Rapporteur noted that the training on armed conflict was obligatory for Ukrainian troops participating in peacekeeping missions and asked if the same was true for the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict. Ms. Al-Asmar was particularly concerned about refugees and children affected by armed conflict in their countries of origin and data relating to them. Was peace education included in the curricula of military schools? Was the recruitment and use in armed conflict of children less than 18 years of age expressly prohibited by domestic legislation?

Experts also wished to know more about the legal position and the legislation in Ukraine, including on the prevention of recruitment of children by non-state actors, possibilities of receiving children that had been involved in armed conflict and the definition of direct hostilities. Had there been discussions in the country on the role of children in armed conflict?

The delegation was asked about arms exports and military assistance, on which Ukraine provided regular reports and public information, and if there was legislation prohibiting exports of arms and light weapons to countries which recruited children in armed conflict.

Response by the Delegation

Responding to those questions and others, the delegation said that the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict was a part of national legislation in Ukraine, in which several laws clarified different aspects of the Optional Protocol. There were 19 military lyceums and high schools in Ukraine run by the Ministry of Defence, two of which had military status and none offered combat training. Most of curriculum time and subjects were devoted to general education. Students and graduates of those schools were not considered military personnel or members of the armed forces, and were not involved in any form of military action. There were 12 military schools which accepted children aged 17 at the time of enrolment. The law on military service regulated the question of students who dropped out of military schools before the age of 18. Military service was based on contract and conscription, and was only open to persons over 18 years of age.

As to steps taken to disseminate the Optional Protocol in military schools, the delegation said that that the curriculum contained international instruments dedicated to humanitarian law; also specialised courses on the Convention and Optional Protocol were held, followed by an exam. Ukrainian servicemen were deployed in 13 countries across the world, as military and peacekeeping personnel. Contingents had special legal advisers who assisted commanders in carrying out their work in alignment with relevant legal provisions. Servicemen participated in courses and peace education activities.

Asked for further information on arms exports, the delegation explained that all companies received permission to export arms from the cabinet of ministers. The State Commission for Arms Exports Control strictly monitored that sales were conducted in agreement with the Convention and the Optional Protocol.

Preliminary Concluding Observations

DAINIUS PURAS, the Committee Expert serving as Rapporteur for the report of Ukraine, in preliminary concluding observations, thanked the delegation for the frank dialogue which would contribute to the drafting of the concluding observations. There was a need for better coordination in decision-making, better monitoring and improved data collection for improved policy-making. The Committee urged Ukraine to move ahead with reform, particularly to develop child-friendly services in many sensitive fields such as juvenile justice. There were a lot of hidden resources and social capital in Ukraine and the Rapporteur hoped that the best way would be found to use this capital in the implementation of the provisions of the Convention.

HADEEL AL-ASMAR, the Committee Expert serving as Rapporteur for the report of Ukraine on the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, said that Ukraine gave a lot to its children, and more needed to be done on training, data collection, rehabilitation and recovery, so that the children of Ukraine would flourish.

RAVIL SAFIULLIN, Minister in charge of the State Service of Youth and Sport of Ukraine, thanked the Committee for a very constructive dialogue and the care for Ukraine and its children, as was obvious from the questions asked. Ukraine was aware of the problems and was working on them and comments and observations the Committee made would be taken into consideration. In conclusion, Mr. Safiullin reiterated the commitment of Ukraine to improve the situation of its children.

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