Svetlana Agapitova: 'Separation of migrant children from their parents is regular practice'

posted 11 Apr 2016, 05:43 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 11 Apr 2016, 06:06 ]
7 April 2016

Source: (info)
The responsible official bodies should never separate a mother and child in cases where they are carrying out any sort of checks or other measures, Ombudsman for Children’s Rights in St Petersburg, Svetlana Agapitova, has said regarding the high profile case of the death of the infant Umarali Nazarov.

“We should never separate a mother and child. In the case of Umarali, this was one of the circumstances leading to the tragedy." Agapitova said. "Until now we are waiting for the final conclusions regarding this incident from the authorities, the investigation having already dragged on for a long time. But I don’t think that the real culprit for what has happened – an officer from the Federal Migration Service or a police officer – will be named. Each of the departments involved works according to its own regulations. Therefore I wrote a statement to the prosecutor calling for the adoption of an interdepartmental procedure. However, I repeat, the position of the Ombuds’ Office is that we are committed to the principle of not separating mother and child.” 

According to Agapitova, the current case has been used as grounds to review the issue of separating mother and child. In St Petersburg another three similar precedents have been recorded, but they had no tragic consequences.

“Separating migrant children and parents is a regular practice. The adults are placed in the temporary holding Centre for those subject to deportation, while child are either sent to the Tsimbalin hospital, or to a children’s home," says Agapitova. "This is because in the Centre there are no facilities for the detention of children, as set out by international norms.  I recently contacted the governor of St Petersburg and hope that in the course of this year the right conditions will be established.” 

Moreover, up till now, there has been a gap in federal legislation relating to the children of migrants. 

“Children up to the age of 16 in principle are not subject to deportation together with their parents," the Ombudsman pointed out. "This means that according to the law, it’s as if these children do not exist. It would not be a bad thing if the deputies tried to make the corresponding corrections to the legislation.” 

The five-month-old Umarali Nazarov died on 13th October in a St Petersburg hospital, within a few hours after being taken from his mother who was held for violating migration laws. The father of the deceased child, Umarali Nazarov Rustam, has been recognized as a victim in the case of the death of his son, Rosbalt reports.

Translated by Frances Robson