22 August 2020
By Boris Altshuler, chair of the NGO Right of the Child, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group
The police took an interest in an internet video, in which a father shook his baby upside down. Subsequently, law enforcement officers found the man and his wife living in a tent in a forest in the Khostinsky district of the Krasnodar region. Living with the adults was their two-month-old daughter. Radio station ‘Govorit Moskva’ [Moscow Speaks] reported on this. The Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation announced that it had requested that the court deprive this couple of their parental rights.
The chair of the board of the regional organisation for promoting the protection of children’s rights, Right of the Child, and a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Boris Altshuler, said on air on that social services should be working with such families.
“Shaking, of course, isn’t good. But we must understand that the deprivation of parental rights is the death penalty for the family. We have a moratorium on the death penalty. And it’s high time we accepted the global principle that the deprivation of parental rights is an absolutely extreme, exceptional measure. Why did this case even raise the question of the deprivation of parental rights? Our Family Code, it’s just completely punitive towards the family. The word “help” was only introduced in 2013, and that was only declaratively in Article 65, no one pays any attention to it. When such an ambiguous situation arises regarding the parents, all over the world you’ll find they’re offered some kind of help or assistance. They have to sign an agreement, to say they agree with certain procedures. There is an option where you can save the family, with the work of social services. Why don’t we have this? It’s possible to enact temporary restrictions of parental rights, employing a social contract. Let it be under the control of a guardian. But we need to work, we must try to help the family get out of this difficult position.”
Translated by Mercedes Malcomson