Press release Jaunumi

On Wednesday, 13 December, the Minister for Justice Inese Lībiņa-Egnere, meeting with Olena Kondratiuk, Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, expressed Latvia's unwavering support for Ukraine in restoring justice and the international rule of law. The two sides paid particular attention to children's rights, condemning Russia's policy of destroying Ukrainian families and abducting children in the occupied territories of Ukraine.

The Minister for Justice Inese Lībiņa-Egnere states: “In our conversation with the Vice-president of the Ukrainian Parliament, we agreed that at the international level, countries and organisations need to introduce more coordinated mechanisms for the return of children abducted by Russia to Ukraine. So far, they have been ineffective. We are talking about children, the most vulnerable group in society, against whom Russia is currently committing genocide. We, the democratic world, cannot let them down. Latvia and Ukraine expect more active and transparent involvement of international organisations to prevent war crimes against children and to ensure that the aggressor state is punished and condemned by the international community. Latvia will call on the international community to take much more active steps in talks with partners”.

According to the Ukrainian side, almost 20,000 children have now been officially confirmed as having been abducted, some of them with their parents still living in Russian-occupied territories. It should be noted that unofficial figures suggest that almost 100,000 Ukrainian children have been abducted. As part of Russia’s policy, children are brutally placed in filtration camps, psychologically influenced, Ukrainian values are disparaged, and then forcibly adopted in Russia. The aggressor state singles out brothers and sisters, children are told that their families were killed by Ukrainians themselves. It should be pointed out that children under the age of 14 who are abducted by Russia in the occupied territories are automatically forced to accept Russian citizenship.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed the need to include on the sanctions list not only those officials who are politically responsible, but also those officials who carry out child abduction in practice. In addition, for sanctions to be effective, it is also necessary to sanction the family members of these persons. The Vice-president of the Ukrainian Parliament pointed out that Ukraine has a list of sanctioned persons which could be used in other European countries.

The Minister for Justice I.Lībiņa-Egnere expressed support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia, noting that Latvia can provide psychological rehabilitation for abducted children who have been returned to Ukraine. Latvia has been at the forefront of support for Ukraine’s reconstruction, for example, in September this year in Riga, as part of Latvia’s Presidency of the Council of Europe, the Ministry of Justice organised a high-level conference of Ministers for Justice of the Council of Europe to decide on the next steps to ensure Russia’s accountability for the crimes committed in Ukraine and the return of Ukrainian children abducted by Russia to their families. During this meeting, a joint political declarationexpressing strong condemnation of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. At a meeting in September, representatives of more than 40 countries of the Council of Europe said that Russia and its political and military leadership must take full responsibility for the hostilities in Ukraine. At the same time, the Declaration also contains guidelines, or the Riga Principles, aimed at ensuring the effective functioning of the Ukrainian Register of Damages. 

During the meeting, Olena Kondratiuk expressed gratitude to Latvia and its citizens for the political, military and humanitarian support provided to Ukraine since the first day of the war, noting that the support of the Baltic States serves as an example to other countries in their fight against the aggressor state.

It should be noted that the Ministry of Justice will continue to strengthen Latvia’s role in international law issues, including by providing legal support to Ukraine – strengthening the international sanctions system, participating in the work of the International Criminal Court and in the establishment of a possible international tribunal to assess and punish war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine.