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Anna Kuznetsova proposed establishing special commission on bringing Russian children back from conflict zones

August 15, 2017, Moscow

Commissioner for Children's Rights Anna Kuznetsova proposed establishing a special commission on returning Russian children from conflict zones. She announced the initiative at a meeting with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Iraq to the Russian Federation Haidar Mansour Hadi Avis and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Syrian Arab Republic to the Russian Federation Riad Haddad.

The meeting was also attended by Deputy Mufti of the Chechen Republic Turko Daudov, Commissioner for the Protection of Family, Motherhood and Children’s Rights with the Head of the Republic of Dagestan Marina Yezhova, representatives of Iraqi and Syrian diplomatic missions in Russia, employees of Russia’s Foreign Ministry and the Office of the Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights.

Ms Kuznetsova thanked all those present for their attention to the problem and described the main issues linked with the repatriation and identification of Russian children: absence of documents, identification methods (visual identity verification by relatives, DNA test, ability to speak Russian), confirmation of kinship and registration of citizenship.

“We must elaborate a uniform mechanism for promptly and efficiently resolving problems linked with the return of children from hot spots. The special commission that will include representatives of different departments will primarily deal with children’s identification, and then their return to Russia and social adaptation,” Ms Kuznetsova said.

The participants discussed ways of establishing the personal identity and family ties of children born in Iraq and Syria. Most often birth certificates or records are lacking and it is very difficult to identify these children. They agreed on the need to establish a mechanism for locating them in potential places of accommodation: orphanages, temporary housing and hospitals located in countries involved in armed conflicts.

During the meeting, Ms Kuznetsova also proposed creating a uniform database for children that were taken out of Russia. The participants supported her initiative and her idea to establish a special commission that will elaborate a procedure for returning Russian children from conflict zones.

The first session of the international working group under the Presidential Commissioner for Human Rights took place last January. Following this session Ms Kuznetsova sent all regional commissioners a request to provide information about the illegal removal of children abroad, including to Iraq and Syria.

Experts generalised this information, compiled a final list of such children (over 350 cases) and sent it to the Foreign Ministry, the Federal Security Service and the Defence Ministry. In the meantime, now that large parts of Iraq and Syria have been freed from militants, the Office of the Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights has received many more requests to return children remaining in liberated areas.

August 15, 2017, Moscow