A draft law on the protection of children’s rights during temporary departure from the country, which aims to unify Ukrainian legislation with that of the European Union. Parliamentarians propose to limit independent travel from Ukraine abroad for teenagers aged 16 to 18. Teenagers will be able to make such trips only if accompanied by a parent or trusted person.

Russian propaganda Telegram channels, as well as some media outlets, have spread disinformation that Ukraine allegedly wants to ban underage male citizens aged 16 to 18 from leaving the country. Some even stated that the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is ready to take such “tough measures” allegedly out of fear that “during the general mobilization, the country will soon physically run out of adult men.”

The publications mention that the relevant draft law prohibiting adolescents from leaving the country has allegedly been registered in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. This is the “Draft Law on Amendments to the Civil Code of Ukraine on the Protection of Children’s Rights during Temporary Departure from Ukraine” No. 9480, registered on July 11, 2023. However, it does not mention any ban on adolescents leaving the country. The purpose of this draft law is to protect the rights of children traveling outside Ukraine, including orphans and children deprived of parental care.

The fact is that Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine has led to a massive migration of Ukrainian children abroad. Some parents were forced to send their children abroad accompanied by relatives or friends, and in some cases without any adults at all. Current Ukrainian law allows children to leave on their own from the age of 16, while in the EU such children are considered unaccompanied children and cannot move freely in the EU without a legal representative. The authors of the draft law also point out that the issue of temporary departure from Ukraine of orphans and children deprived of parental care, whose maintenance and upbringing is entrusted to the state, remains unresolved.

The explanatory note states that the objective of this draft law is to unify Ukrainian legislation with that of the European Union. In particular, the MPs propose to allow adolescents aged 16 to 18 to cross the border only if accompanied by one parent and with the consent of the other; accompanied by a trustee; or, in the case of an orphan or a child deprived of parental care, with the permission of the guardianship and custody authority, which will be granted in accordance with the procedure established by the Cabinet of Ministers.

In other words, there is no complete ban on leaving Ukraine. The parliamentarians propose to limit only the independent travel of adolescents abroad, which is a concern for social services in EU countries. 

Moreover, the propagandists’ statement that this draft law applies exclusively to males aged 16 to 18 is also untrue. If this draft law is approved, the adopted norms will apply to all children without exception.

Kremlin propaganda regularly spreads disinformation that Ukraine is allegedly planning to “send schoolchildren and students to the front en masse.” StopFake has repeatedly refuted such reports in the materials Fake: Odesa School Children Recruited to the Front, Fake: Ukraine Will Put Schoolchildren Under the Gun and Fake: Kyiv Sends Children to War.