Church opposes parliament's "anti-upbringing law"


Interfax-Religiia, 4 July  2016


The patriarchal Commission on Issues of the Family and Protection of Maternity and Childhood is deeply upset by the recent adoption of a new version of article 116 of the Criminal Code of the RF, which, as the commission notes, is already being called in public "the anti-upbringing law."


"If the new version of article 116 of the Criminal Code takes effect, this may lead to criminal prosecution of conscientious parents (with the introduction of a penalty of up to two years incarceration) for any, even moderate and reasonable, use of physical punishments in the upbringing of children. At the same time, as follows from the text of the law, onlookers will not bear criminal responsibility for such actions regarding a child," the statement of the patriarchal commission says, which was published on the website of the Russian Orthodox Church.


The commission thinks that this standard "lacks moral justification and legal basis and in  its contents is directed against the family and the understanding of parental rights that is accepted in Russian culture, is discriminatory, contradicts basic principles of healthy state family policy, and does not take into account traditional family and moral values of Russian society," and its practical implementation will bring to society and its moral life "substantially greater harm than good."


The patriarchal commission has no doubts that children must be protected from genuinely criminal actions, by whomever committed, especially in the case of criminal violence.


"However there are no real bases for equating reasonable and moderate use by loving parents of physical punishment in the upbringing of a child with such criminal attacks," the authors of the statement add.


The patriarchal commission is sure that the question of the selection of some methods of upbringing of children that do not entail any real harm should remain the subject "of discussion and free choices of parents and not compulsory legislative regulation."


On 29 June, the Federation Council approved the law on decriminalization of a number of articles of Russian criminal legislation. Among other things, the document decriminalizes criminal articles for beating, but this does not apply to beatings of relatives.


Because of this Senator Elena Mizulina urged the upper chamber of parliament to reject the law, since in her opinion the amendments adopted by the State Duma "bear a discriminatory character with regard to family members and contradict the basic purposes of state family policy intended to support, strengthen, and protect the family."


"All of this legalizes juvenile justice, that is, the unwarranted intrusion into family affairs. Since it is now possible to open a criminal case upon any basis, abrasion and bruising of a child will become adequate basis for coming into a family for inspection and even for opening a criminal case against the parents," E. Mizulina declared.


Meanwhile the head of the Federation Council's Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building, Andrei Klishas, does not agree with the criticism of the law.


In his opinion, in this case the state is sending "a clear signal to society that it considers such actions in the family, which should be the foundation of traditional values, to be deeds of special public danger."


Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko proposed approving the bill but creating a working group in order to study separately, before September, the article that is evoking criticism, "and to seek compromise versions of the decision in order to remove the anxiety and concerns that senators have expressed." (tr. by PDS, posted 5 July 2016)
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