The right of children of imprisoned parents to visit them: international and Russian contexts

Available in Russian

Author: Natalya Kravchuk

DOI: 10.21128/2226-2059-2019-4-70-86

Keywords: European Court of Human Rights; imprisoned parents; incarcerated parents; right to maintain contact with parent; rights of the child; Russian penal legislation; UN Convention on the Rights of the Child


Children of imprisoned persons were not considered a vulnerable group with specific needs and interests until recently. During last several years, however, international bodies adopted documents that provided for rights of these children that should be particularly noted by governments, including the right to maintain the contact with the imprisoned parent. Presently this right is interpreted as a separate right of the child and not only as   a right of an imprisoned parent both on a global level by the UN Committee on the rights of the child and on the regional level by the Council of Eu- rope Committee of Ministers. The European Court of human rights had not so far considered the cases on the family life of imprisoned persons from the perspective of the rights and interests of the child, but its jurisprudence contributes to setting standards of permissible restriction or prohibition,  as well as conditions of visits. Depending on specifics of normative regulation of rights of imprisoned persons scholars refer to various obstacles to realization of the right of the child to maintain contact with them. The key problem in USA is that the incarceration of mother might be taken as a reason to begin parental authority termination proceedings. European scholars refer to the necessity to guarantee procedural rights of the child as well as his/her right to privacy. The attention of Russian academic circles is focused on the situation of children residing with their imprisoned mothers, while the right of the child left outside of the institution is considered through the right of imprisoned mother to contact with the family. Realization of the right in question in Russia is undermined not only by the fact that it is not provided for in penal law, but also by the fact that the norms which regulate the right of the imprisoned person to family life are not in accordance with the international standards – it depends on his/her personality and behavior, are of a discriminatory nature, and are not applied in practice. Guaranteeing this right would request an adoption of the whole spectrum of measures. The first one should be the introduction of system of collection of information on the matter across the territory of the Russian Federation.

About the author: Natalya Kravchuk – Candidate of Science (Ph.D.) in Law, senior research fellow, Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Kravchuk N. (2019) Pravo detey lits, osuzhdyonnyh k lisheniyu svobody, na obshchenie s nimi: mezhdunarodnyy i rossiyskiy kontekst [The right of children of imprisoned parents to visit them: international and Russian contexts]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, vol.9, no.4, pp.70–86. (In Russian).