Most Russians Oppose Juvenile Justice System

MOSCOW, February 8 (RIA Novosti) – Most Russians oppose introduction of a special juvenile justice system in the country, considering children’s rights primarily as a matter for parents and not the government, a survey released on Thursday said.

Russia has been working on the implementation of a juvenile justice system since it signed the European Social Charter back in 2000. That initiative has been strongly opposed by conservative groups in Russia, including the Russian Orthodox Church, as an alien western practice damaging family values.

Children’s rights ombudsmen offices have been established across the country in the past year, but there is still no separate branch of the courts for dealing with minors.

Over half (57 percent) of the respondents to the survey, conducted by the VTsIOM state-run polling organization, backed the idea of juvenile courts in Russia.

Some 71 percent of Russians said they were against children’s rights taking priority over those of their parents, while 60 percent said minors should not be allowed to take action against their parents in the courts, according to the survey.

Seventy six percent of respondents said parents and the family should play the main role in defending the rights of minors, with only 16 percent saying it should be a state function.

Last week, the Church’s Synod in Moscow criticized the possibility of low-income families losing custody of their children in situations where they could potentially no longer afford to support large numbers of children.

The survey showed 74 percent of respondents were against criminal prosecution of parents who leave their children unattended.

Opinion was almost equally divided on whether Russia needs special NGO-type commissions to highlight abuse of orphans, with some 47 percent approving the idea and 42 percent against.

The poll questioned 1,600 people in 46 regions, with a margin of error is not higher than 3.4 percent.

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