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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
Speaker of The Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko: There are many issues to address, Mr President. In your programme and your executive orders you have put a lot of emphasis on social issues, including children’s issues. A lot has been accomplished in this area of late and the situation is changing for the better, but there are still a great many serious issues that we need to resolve.
At the meeting with the upper house’s council last November, we discussed the need for a national children’s strategy. The Council of Europe has urged us to adopt such a strategy, and most countries do have one. In the Federation Council and the State Duma we have worked together with a broad range of public groups and NGOs, experts and specialists in the field, to draft a strategy, which has gone through parliamentary hearings. The Council of Europe’s secretary general took part in these hearings and gave the strategy a high assessment. This document puts things in a new and modern language, analyses the situation, and proposes what steps to take and how to go about it.
Our meeting today takes place as we prepare to celebrate Children’s Day, and it would be therefore very fitting, Mr President, if you give the instruction to examine the strategy we drafted. We hope to see you issue this order. The document has already been approved with the different ministries and agencies, including the Interior Ministry and the Education and Science Ministry. All of the ministries took part in the drafting process.
We think it very important now to adopt the strategy without delay and instruct the Government and the regional authorities to draw up concrete action programmes based on its proposals. We have not tried to tackle all problems in the document but have concentrated on the most relevant and serious issues that raise the greatest concerns among the public, and have set out ways to address and resolve these problems. From here, the executive authorities need to draft specific programmes and we will continue to move forward actively. I ask you to give this your support.
Vladimir Putin: The timeframe is through to 2017?
Valentina Matviyenko: Yes, 2012–2017. I give you this letter requesting you to issue the relevant instructions. All of the approvals are here, and a draft executive order, which we drew up together with the Presidential State-Legal Department.
The second matter is that the Council of Europe has adopted a number of optional protocols to the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse. So far, 154 countries have signed the optional protocols. We have worked very closely with the ministries and agencies over the last six months preparing the legal base and getting it into line so as to be able to meet the conditions for ratifying this convention.
This work has been done. The Interior Ministry, Education Ministry, and Foreign Ministry have all worked very hard and today there are no obstacles in the way of ratifying the convention. The Federation Council has adopted an appeal to the President. I ask you to examine this appeal and issue an instruction to ratify these important documents as soon as possible.
Mr President, you know how serious these issues are: violence against children, paedophilia, child pornography, the things that go on in the internet and the media, things that often go beyond the limits. Ratifying these documents will enable us to act in accordance with international norms and rules and make our own internal decisions. I therefore ask you to give the instruction to speed up these documents’ ratification.
One more issue: we have an ombudsman for children’s rights, and this is a very important institution, something very much needed in our country. This institution was originally established by a presidential executive order.
The Council of Europe and other international organisations think that the ombudsman should be an independent institution and work independently. We think there is a need to pass a law on the institution of children’s ombudsman and set out clearly the institution’s independence and the legal basis for its work. With the country about to mark Children’s Day, we have also drawn up a draft law on this. I ask you to give the instruction to examine this draft and pass it, if agreement is reached.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.