The Head of the President's Office, Andriy Yermak, invited Baroness Helena Kennedy KC, a well-known lawyer specializing in human rights and civil liberties, child protection, and Director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, to become the co-chair of the high-level expert group "Bring Kids Back UA".
The Head of the President's Office outlined his vision of the role of the high-level expert group and talked about the expected results of its work.
“First of all, experts should develop recommendations for an effective mechanism for the return of deported children to Ukraine. We are also expecting recommendations that could become a new international legal basis for the protection and prevention of violations of children's rights in armed conflicts, which will be developed on the example of Ukraine,” stated the Head of the President's Office.
Andriy Yermak also emphasized: “The issue of the return of all forcefully deported children is extremely important. It is one of the elements of the Ukrainian Peace Formula, which is currently being discussed at the highest level, in particular with the ambassadors of foreign countries.”
"In my deep conviction, given your talent and experience, your work in this group will be a very big step and gain for Ukraine. We will be able to unite almost the whole world in this work," said the Head of the Office of the President, noting that he had received assurances from a large number of countries of their readiness to join the issue of child protection.
Helena Kennedy, in turn, agreed on the urgency to set up a mechanism for the reunification of children with their relatives in Ukraine, in line with international human rights standards, and emphasized the importance of joint efforts in this matter with the involvement of international organizations and experts, creating synergies with the existing UN mechanisms on the protection of children in conflict. The human rights defender is convinced that there needs to be accountability for the international crimes of unlawful deportation and forcible transfer of children.
"The children you returned should be able to provide you with evidence of what happened while they were forcefully deported. I understand that many are still in Russia. We have a lot of work to do," said Helena Kennedy.
Baroness Helena Kennedy KC is one of Britain's most distinguished lawyers. She has spent her professional life giving voice to those who have the least power within the system, championing civil liberties and promoting human rights. She has conducted many prominent cases of terrorism, official secrets and homicide. She is the founding force behind the establishment of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at the University of Oxford. In 1997, she was elevated to the House of Lords where she is a Labour peer. She has published a number of books including two on how the justice system is failing women, and has written and broadcasted on many issues over the years. She chairs the human rights and legal reform organization Justice, the British section of the International Commission of Jurists.
Helena Kennedy has been named one of the BBC's 100 women in 2021. She is distinguished for her work in the field of human rights, awarded with more than thirty honorary doctorates.