“Re-education camps,” age manipulation: activist on Russia’s abduction of Ukrainian children

kateryna rashevska ukraine legal expert regional center human rights russia children abduction reeducation

Kateryna Rashevska, a legal expert at the Regional Center for Human Rights, at a briefing in the Media Center Ukraine/ Source: life.pravda.com.ua 

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Russians are altering the personal information of children abducted from Ukraine, making it difficult to locate them. There have been instances where they have added age to children who were taken to “re-education camps” in Crimea, as reported by Kateryna Rashevska, a legal expert at the Regional Centre for Human Rights, at a briefing in the Media Center Ukraine.

“I cannot guarantee that this is happening everywhere. We have documented cases where they changed children’s personal data, such as when they were taken to so-called “re-education camps” to avoid obtaining parental consent. They would actually add their ages and then transfer them to Crimea. The child was kept there, unable to return because, according to their documents, they were no longer children, and Russia unlawfully restricted their freedom of movement,” according to the human rights activist.

There are also very young children who, due to their trauma, cannot recall their real names.

Kateryna Rashevska also discussed Russian “re-education camps.” Rashevska described them as “camps of Russification, militarization, and indoctrination.” There are seven such camps on the Crimean peninsula and 43 on Russian territory.

“Some of them took children without their parents’ permission and with forged documents. There were also instances where approximately 200 children were taken and placed in ‘camps,'”according to the human rights activist.

Ukraine has already reported the actions of Russian children’s ombudsman Maria Lvova-Belova to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Lvova-Belova “adopted” a Ukrainian boy, Philip, from Mariupol.

“During the most recent meeting with Putin, Maria Lvova-Belova either forgot or purposefully lied about Philip’s age, claiming he was 15 years old. At the same time, she stated that Philip was 16 almost a year ago. And if we compare the information she provided, we get 17 years old by calculation. Because she stated that Philip lost his mother in 2017 when he was 11 years old, “ according to the legal expert.

Russia abducts Ukrainian children under evacuation and adoption guise

According to the human rights activist, such information distortion occurs frequently, and children’s personal data change not only during adoption. According to the human rights activist, the ORDLO (temporarily occupied by Russia territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in Ukraine) registers and the data stolen from orphanages in newly occupied territories are being merged with Russia’s federal orphan database.

Rashevska adds that it will take significant effort to identify these children, locate the families to whom they were transferred, and repatriate them to Ukrainian territory.

“We have an identification problem, and this is the first problem the state must solve,” Rashevska explained.

Ukraine has already identified 16,000 deported children. 400 children were sent to Russian families in 2022, according to data available on the Children of War portal.

“We must work to create a unified legal framework for the return of such children. We cannot wait a year or two for the war to end because some children are already 18 years old, which means forced conscription into the Russian army for boys ” added Kateryna Rashevska.

The human rights activists also documented that Russians are taking children away under the pretext of “medical examination,” which involves medical intervention by Russian doctors.

Read also:

Ukraine returns home two more children forcibly deported to Russia – Ukraine’s Reintegration Ministry

Russia abducted 2,000 children from Ukraine since New Year – US at OSCE

Russia spends €8 mn to select “quality material” for adoption among Ukrainian children: report

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