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Russia[1] [print]

Last edited: November 2005

Summary and Analysis

 

In Russia, the issue of child protection will typically be resolved either through semi-formal measures taken by local social agencies (“organy opeki i popechitelstva”) or through parental rights termination proceedings in civil courts.

The legal foundation for it is Article 69 of the Family Code of Russia, which provides that “Parental rights may not come into conflict with the interest of the child. Protection of the child's interests must be the main duty of his parents. The parents may not cause any physical or psychological harm to their children or to their moral and ethical upbringing. The means by which parents raise their children must exclude any diminishing, cruel or humiliating treatment of children, or any form of exploitation or abuse.” The violation of this basic standard serves as a foundation for terminating the parental rights of abusive parents. Both or one of the parents may lose their parental rights as the result as of the failure to perform basic duties of a parent, chronic misuse of parental rights, abandonment of the child, chronic substance abuse, physical assault on the child or the other spouse, or cruel treatment of the child.

Article 70 (1) of the Family Code states that such a proceeding may be initiated by:

-        one of the parents of the child, including divorced or incarcerated parents;

-        adoptive parents or temporary guardians (that excludes other family members, such as grandfathers or uncles, whose only resort in this case is to apply to a Body of Guardianship);

-        state prosecutors (they possess an absolute authority to initiate such proceedings, but in practice will do so only in cases of an extreme abuse or in high-profile cases);

-        social agencies charged with the protection of the child's rights, such as the Bodies of Guardianship, foster homes or special schools for children with disabilities.

According to Article 56.2 of the Family Code of Russia, the child has the right to appeal to courts when his interests are violated (such as when his parents misuse their parental authority) after the age of 14, or to local social agencies (whose participation in such proceedings is mandatory) dealing with child protection before that age. According to Article 57 of the Family Code of Russia, the child has the right to be heard during such proceedings and if he has reached the age of 10 to have his opinion taken into consideration, but, according to Russian lawyers, in practice most courts base their decisions on the opinions by the social agencies (the Bodies of Guardianship).

 

Children do not have the right for a court-appointed lawyer, but may apply for help to a local NGO (which are scarce and receive no support from the government whatsoever, existing courtesy of Western foundations' grants).

 

Local laws regulating the social agencies' charges with child protective work differ to the extent of the requirements they place on social workers. Most such offices are poorly staffed and funded. In fact, many regions of Russia do not have special child protection agencies at all, directing the child protective work required by law to any worker of the local government available at the time.

 

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

 

Original Text

 

Statutes

 

The Family Code of the Russian Federation[2]

 

Статья 56. Право ребенка на защиту

1. Ребенок имеет право на защиту своих прав и законных интересов. Защита прав и законных интересов ребенка осуществляется родителями (лицами, их заменяющими), а в случаях, предусмотренных настоящим Кодексом, органом опеки и попечительства, прокурором и судом.

Несовершеннолетний, признанный в соответствии с законом полностью дееспособным до достижения совершеннолетия, имеет право самостоятельно осуществлять свои права и обязанности, в том числе право на защиту.

2. Ребенок имеет право на защиту от злоупотреблений со стороны родителей (лиц, их заменяющих).

При нарушении прав и законных интересов ребенка, в том числе при невыполнении или при ненадлежащем выполнении родителями (одним из них) обязанностей по воспитанию, образованию ребенка либо при злоупотреблении родительскими правами, ребенок вправе самостоятельно обращаться за их защитой в орган опеки и попечительства, а по достижении возраста четырнадцати лет в суд.

 

Статья 57. Право ребенка выражать свое мнение.

Ребенок вправе выражать свое мнение при решении в семье любого вопроса, затрагивающего его интересы, а также быть заслушанным в ходе любого судебного или административного разбирательства. Учет мнения ребенка, достигшего возраста десяти лет, обязателен, за исключением случаев, когда это противоречит его интересам. В случаях, предусмотренных настоящим Кодексом (статьи 59, 72, 132, 134, 136, 143, 154), органы опеки и попечительства или суд могут принять решение только с согласия ребенка, достигшего возраста десяти лет.

 

Статья 70. Порядок лишения родительских прав

1. Лишение родительских прав производится в судебном порядке. Дела о лишении родительских прав рассматриваются по заявлению одного из родителей (лиц, их заменяющих), прокурора, а также по заявлениям органов или учреждений, на которые возложены обязанности по охране прав несовершеннолетних детей (органов опеки и попечительства, комиссий по делам несовершеннолетних, учреждений для детей - сирот и детей, оставшихся без попечения родителей, и других).

2. Дела о лишении родительских прав рассматриваются с участием прокурора и органа опеки и попечительства.

 

Статья 78. Участие органа опеки и попечительства при рассмотрении судом споров, связанных с воспитанием детей

1. При рассмотрении судом споров, связанных с воспитанием детей, независимо от того, кем предъявлен иск в защиту ребенка, к участию в деле должен быть привлечен орган опеки и попечительства.

2. Орган опеки и попечительства обязан провести обследование условий жизни ребенка и лица (лиц), претендующего на его воспитание, и представить суду акт обследования и основанное на нем заключение по существу спора.

 

The law of Moscow City 4.06.1997 no. 16 regulating the work of the Bodies of Guardianship[3]

 

6.4. В соответствии с возложенными на них задачами уполномоченные службы (организации): … участвуют в заседаниях судов по делам подопечных в случаях, предусмотренных законодательством;

 

A draft of model law regulating the work of the BOGs in Russia[4]

 

Статья 9. Вопросы, относящиеся к компетенции уполномоченных служб (организаций) по опеке и попечительству в отношении детей.

…предъявление исков в суд о лишении родительских прав, ограничении родительских прав, об отобрании ребенка без лишения родителей родительских прав, о признании брака недействительным в случаях, предусмотренных статьей 27 Семейного кодекса Российской Федерации;
представление прав и законных интересов ребенка в суде в случае отсутствия законных представителей, или иных причин, по которым необходимо обеспечить представительство интересов ребенка в суде;

 

Model law regulating the work of the BOGs in Saint Petersburg[5]

 

V. ЗАЩИТА ПРАВ ДЕТЕЙ, ВОСПИТЫВАЕМЫХ В СЕМЬЕ

17. Орган опеки и попечительства обязан:

1) принимать необходимые меры по защите прав и законных интересов ребенка в случаях угрозы жизни или здоровья ребенка, невыполнении или ненадлежащем выполнении родителями (одним из них) обязанностей по воспитанию и образованию ребенка, злоупотребления родительскими правами, как по заявлению самого ребенка, так и по сообщению должностных лиц организаций либо иных граждан;

2) назначать представителя для защиты прав и интересов детей в отношениях с любыми юридическими и физическими лицами, в том числе в судах, в случаях разногласий между родителями и детьми;

 

Translation[6]

 

Statutes

 

The Family Code of the Russian Federation

 

Article 56. The right of the child to legal protection.

1. The child has the right to have his rights and legal interests protected. Legal parents of a child execute the protection of the child's rights and legal interests, however, in cases, determined according to the Family Code, the guardianship and social service agencies, state investigators, prosecutors and the court assume this role.  

A minor, legally declared capable of defending his/her own rights until the legal independence age is reached, has the right to personally exercise his rights and duties, including the right to protection.

2. The child has the right to protection from parental abuse (or from the abuse by persons substituting for the child's parents, i.e. legal guardians and legal parents).

Whenever the legal rights and interests of the child are violated, including the failure of one of the child's legal parents to perform their parental duties, failure to educate the child, and the misuse of their parental rights, the child has the right to personally apply for protection to the guardianship and social services agencies or, after the child has reached the age of 14, to courts.

 

Article 57. The right of the child to a freedom of speech, i.e. the right to express his opinion.

The child has the right to contribute his opinion in any family decision concerning his/her interests, and the right to be heard in any court or administrative proceeding. The opinion of the child over the age of 10 has to be taken into account, except in cases when such an opinion contradicts his best interests. In cases, which are provided for in other provisions of the present legal Code (Articles 59, 72, 132, 134, 136, 143, 154), the bodies of guardianship and social services or the court may render a decision only with the consent of the child over the age of 10.[7]

 

Article 70. The procedure for terminating parental rights.

1. Parental rights may be terminated only upon a due court hearing procedure.  Cases concerned with termination of parental rights are initiated by a written complaint by either legal parent (or a legal guardian), state investigator/prosecutor, and also by agencies charged with protection of children's rights (the guardianship or social services agencies, committee on minor's affairs, special adoption/foster agencies for foster children and for children left without parental care, and others).

2. Cases concerned with termination of parental rights must involve state prosecutors and the guardianship/social services agencies.

 

Article 78. Participation of the guardianship/social services agencies in court proceedings concerned with children's guardianship rights.

1. Regardless of who initiated court proceedings concerned with legal parental/guardianship rights, participation of the social services agencies in such proceedings is mandatory. 

2. The guardianship and the social services agencies must conduct an investigation of the state of living conditions of the child and of the person's claiming parental/guardianship rights and to issue a statement and a recommendation at a court hearing regarding the dispute of parental/guardianship rights.  

 

The law of Moscow City 4.06.1997 no. 16 regulating the work of the Bodies of Guardianship

 

6.4. If duties and responsibilities of an organization are applicable to the case, authorized agencies (organizations) will participate in court proceedings involving minors wherever such participation is required by law.

 

A draft of model law regulating the work of the BOGs in Russia

 

Article 9. Issues within the legal jurisdiction of the authorized services (organizations) of the guardianship and social service agencies.

…petitioning to the courts to terminate or limit parental rights, to remove the child from a parent without termination of parental rights, to annul a marriage under Article 27 of the Family Code of the Russian Federation;

 Representation of the legal rights and interests of the child in a court of law whenever such representation is missing or in other cases when such representation of the child in a court is required.

 

Model law regulating the work of the BOGs in Saint Petersburg

 

V. Legal protection of the foster children's rights.

 

17. The guardianship and social services agency must:

1) Upon a child's complaint as well as upon a report from other authorized organizations or citizens, to take all necessary measures to protect the legal rights and interests of the child when his life or health are threatened, or when at least of his legal parents fails to uphold the full parental and the child's educational obligations, or perform inadequately their parental duties, or misuse their parental rights;

2) to appoint a representative to protect the child's legal rights and interests in any legal proceeding and with any person, including in court hearings, whenever there is a conflict between the interests of the child and his parents.

 

Local Contact Information

 

NGO “Pravo Rebenka”

121019, Moscow, Novyi Arbat 11, rooms 1918, 1920

Phone: 095-291-5872

Fax: 095-291-9176

E-mail: right-child@mtu-net.ru

Web page: http://pravorebenka.narod.ru

Contact persons: Boris Altschuler, Svetlana Pronina, Inga Shubina.

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Semeinyi Kodeks [SK] [Family Code] arts. 56, 57, 78, available at http://www.garweb.ru/project/law/doc/10005807/

[3] The law of Moscow City 4.06.1997 no. 16 regulating the work of the Bodies of Guardianship, art. 6.4, available at http://www.good.cnt.ru/family/LMOpec.htm.

[4] A draft of model law regulating the work of the BOGs in Russia, art. 9, available at http://prpc.ru//library/ref_28/index.shtml.

[5] Model law regulating the work of the BOGs in Saint Petersburg, art. 17.

[6] Unofficial translation by Julia Kolmakova.

[7] The provisions of the Family Code cited in the text of the Article deal with changes to the child's name, with re-institution of previously terminated parental rights, and with adoption of the child over the age of 10- in all these cases the consent of the child must be obtained.

 

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