Two Ukrainian children who were in Austria were sent to Russia without Ukraine’s consent. It is reported that this was done by the Secretary General of the European Ombudsman Institute, an international public organization from Tyrol, Austria.
Ukrainian Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets sent an urgent letter to the members of the European Ombudsman Institute to withdraw from this association. The Ukrainian ombudsman posted this on Facebook.
“This step was the result of the fact that two Ukrainian children, who were in the territory of the Republic of Austria because of Russian armed aggression, were taken to the territory of the Russian Federation by a “human rights defender of the European Ombudsman Institute (EOI),” Lubinets explained.
According to media reports, this was done by Dr. Josef Siegele, Secretary General of the EOI, a member of the EOI Board, and Deputy Ombudsman of Tyrol, Lubinets added. According to him, the Austrian authorities have launched an official investigation into Siegele’s actions.
“This is a violation of Articles 49 and 50 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, which prohibits the forced relocation or deportation of persons from the occupied territory and imposes on the occupying power the obligation to take all necessary measures to facilitate the procedure for identifying children and registering their family ties,” Lubinets wrote.
Forcible transfer of children from one group to another is one of the signs of genocide in accordance with Article II of the UN Convention of December 9, 1948, “On the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” the ombudsman explained.
He added that the European Ombudsman Institute, at his request, failed to conduct an internal investigation and impose appropriate sanctions on Siegele, whose action contradicts the purpose of the Institute’s establishment and demonstrates its bias. The President of the Institute, Dragan Milkov, ignored the requests of the Ukrainian side.
“I believe that such actions harm the national interests of Ukraine at a time when a bloody full-scale war is ongoing. I emphasize that the return of each deported child is a very complicated process that requires titanic efforts and time,” the official said.
Lubinets suggests that other members of the European Ombudsman Institute consider an immediate withdrawal.
The Ukrainian ombudsman added that he appealed to his colleagues who are members of the Institute to consider immediate withdrawal from the European Ombudsman Institute and condemn the actions of its leadership.
“At the same time, I express my gratitude to my colleagues and friends who have left the EOI, the Ombudsman of the Republic of Latvia, Mr. Juris Jansons, and the Ombudsman of the Republic of Lithuania, Erika Leonaitė, for their unequivocal position and quick response to the above situation,” Lubinets wrote.
According to him, all members of the organization, who are supporters of democratic principles, for whom human rights are not empty words, cannot stay away from the situation and continue their membership in the EOI.
The European Ombudsman Institution
In 1982, professors at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, initiated the creation of a scientific society whose main task was to study the phenomenon of the ombudsman institution in Europe. In 1988, the society was granted the status of an international non-governmental organization and is now known as the European Ombudsman Institute. The main activities of the Institute are to disseminate and promote the idea of an ombudsman in Europe, support research in this area, and facilitate the exchange of experience at the national, European, and international levels.
Most European ombuds institutions are members of the Institute.
The kidnapping of Ukrainian children by Russia
Russia’s abduction of Ukrainian children is a deliberate policy of the Kremlin. President Putin issued a decree in May making it easy for Russians to adopt Ukrainian children, and the policy is being “vigorously pursued” by Russia’s children’s rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, who “openly advocates stripping children of their Ukrainian identities and teaching them to love Russia,” The Washington Post reports.
While the number of children taken is not clear, Daria Herasymchuk, Ukraine’s top children’s rights official, has estimated that nearly 14,000 Ukrainian children have been taken by Russia without their parents. Ukraine has been able to return 125 children so far.
In Russia, children face great difficulties. For example, at the International Economic Forum held this January in Davos, Switzerland, a 12-year-old boy, Sashko, from Mariupol, told how he went through a Russian filtration camp and how he was separated from his mother, whose fate is still unknown.
According to The Guardian, 16-year-old David was forcibly held in an orphanage by Russians because he was underage. Fortunately, thanks to the help of volunteers, David was able to return from Russian child captivity to Ukraine.
But while previously only crimes against children committed by Russia on the territory of Ukraine were reported, the possible transfer of Ukrainian children from Europe to Russia is a matter of greater concern.
The transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia – and attempts to brainwash them by removing their language and culture – is a genocidal crime that calls for prosecution.
If the investigation proves that Dr. Josef Siegele did indeed illegally take Ukrainian children to Russia, how is this better than another doctor, Josef Mengele, who experimented on children?
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