On January 12, 2018 Lviv Press Club hosted expert roundtable “Ways to eliminate discrimination in registration of birth and death of persons in the occupied territories of Ukraine”.
The event was organized by the Center for Law and Political Studies SIM and Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.
When Ukrainian citizens need to register a birth or death, they visit a civil registration body (CRB), where they receive an appropriate certificate on the same day. However, if the birth or death in question occurs in occupied territories or territories outside GoU control (Crimea, certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts), citizens face a grueling process: first they need to go to a CRB and be denied, then go to court and wait for a positive verdict, and only then, after turning to a CRB once again, will they be able to get the certificate. Which begs the question: why is it that there is an administrative procedure for some Ukrainian citizens (through CRB) while others are forced to confirm the facts of birth and death through court?
The scale of the problem is astonishing. Thus, approximate number of births and deaths that have occurred in occupied or uncontrolled territories since 2014 exceeds 372 thousand. Meanwhile, official Ukrainian bodies recorded only 31,317 cases of birth or death in these territories. It’s less than 10%. But the worst thing about this whole situation, according to human rights activists, is the existing discrimination based on a person’s place of origin.
According to Oleg Ilnytskyi, project coordinator at SIM, “for the Ukrainian state, which claims to be ruled by law, any kind of discrimination is a disgraceful practice. A practice forbidden by the Constitution of Ukraine”.
The roundtable’s participants adopted a resolution which states that the current civil registration procedure for cases originating in temporarily occupied territories in the form of a separate civil proceeding entails too many formalities, is overly complex and constitutes a financial burden for citizens. It requires Ukrainian courts to perform functions they are unaccustomed to, without proper legal substantiation of the need for it; moreover, it takes a disproportionate amount of effort and violates international standards and commitments of Ukraine in the field of human rights. Therefore, the government is called upon to adopt legislative acts where to:
– establish special rules for the administrative procedure on civil registration of cases originating in temporarily occupied territories of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea;
– elaborate the rules for separate civil proceedings on confirming cases originating in temporarily occupied territories of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, in order to reduce the number of formalities and make the process more accessible;
– establish a system of records determining a person’s legal status issued in temporarily occupied territories, in order to improve control over the records instead of over citizens;
– conduct extensive educational work among officials of all levels regarding the implementation of mechanisms for eliminating discrimination based on the place of origin.