Ongoing debate regarding curfews for young people

In Belarus, Russia and Azerbaijan there are curfews for young people. Should Ukraine be following suit and is there a need to restrict young people’s movements outside school time?  This was the subject of a roundtable held by the women’s human rights organization La Strada-Ukraine. Most of those invited to speak by the organizers supported such a curfew.

Account of the roundtable

In the Ministry of Internal Affairs they are recommending imposing a curfew because according to statistics in the Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk and Poltava regions, 7,343 children suffered from crimes, and these mainly happened during the evening [50-52% of the crimes].

According to Tetyana Bukhtiryava, Head of the Criminal Police on Juvenile Matters, all Ukrainian children spend most of their time on the street when their parents are at work. She also told those present that she has studied other countries’ experience and “children don’t appear on the streets abroad. They don’t just wander around the streets”. She is convinced that to ensure that children do not become victims of crimes, a law needs to be passed.

Support was heard from the Ministry for the Family, Youth and Sport. Oksana Filipishina stated that this Ministry has drawn up a draft law which contains restrictions on the movement of young people under 16 after 22.00, if not accompanied by an adult. She was indignant that the proposed draft law had not been supported by the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Justice.

Monika Platek from the Joint EU and CE Project on Strengthening and Protecting the Rights of Women and Children in Ukraine does not agree. She cited the experience of her own country, Poland, where such an attempt had been made, with parents fined if their children were found on the street during curfew hours. The only result of such measures, she asserts, is to make the poor poorer, they will not help children or society.

She described what happened in Poland where young people found an “adult” – an 18-year old so that all was according to the law. However the situation actually became worse than it had been. She says that there were cases where corrupt police officers had effectively raped young girls, threatening to put them inside, with their parents having to pay a fine if they didn’t have sex with them.  An investigation is now underway.  She stresses that if you pass a law which gives some more rights, but takes rights away from others, the results can be unforeseeable, and points out that there are many possibilities for ensuring control over a child’s behaviour.

Representative of the ECPAT in CIS Countries Olha Shved does not understand why children should be out on the street after 10 p.m. She says that a child should be asleep at that time. She asserts at in Armenia and Belarus children do not appear on the streets. If they do, they first get a warning, and are then taken to the police station, and believes that this should be the case in Ukraine.

All those taking part who support a curfew assiduously avoided the word, talking instead about “restrictions on the level of legislation”.


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