If you want to have something, be ready to defend it (folk wisdom)


Property rights are perhaps the most frequently infringed of any. This was the message from members of human rights organizations during a press club “How can ordinary Ukrainians protect their property”.  This view is shared by UN countries who issued 157 recommendations aimed at improving the human rights situation in Ukraine as part of the largest international monitoring mechanism in the area of human rights, known as the Universal Periodic Review. A large percentage of these recommendations concerned establishing rule of law.

The right to peacefully enjoy ones property is one of the key elements of a law-based country. However experts note that there are more and more violations of this right in Ukraine.

Don’t rejoice too soon if you’ve won a law suit. One of the most flagrant examples of how property rights are violated lies in non-implementation of the rulings handed down by domestic courts protecting property. Their number is increasing by the year, yet the government is not capable of resolving this problem. According to statistics, around 60-70% of court rulings are not enforced. 

Forget registering real estate. Human rights workers point out that there is still no body in Ukraine responsible for registration of the right to such property – the only understandable procedure would be a single register open to the public.

If you have a plot of land, this may end up needed by the state for so-called “public needs” as happened in Lviv. A person owned a plot of land of 29 square metres for which he had a state act confirming property rights.  It was located on the land of a garage cooperative on a Lviv street, and appropriated to serve the public need for reconstruction work on the Lviv Airport runway. The Lviv Regional Administration “forgot” to take a decision on redeeming the plot of land, or allocating another, equivalent one in replacement.  The city authorities only redeemed the metal garage box structure on the plot of land which the person owned.  He was not given any compensation for the appropriated land.

Danger lurks both in the form of the State, and from other individual. Nobody can guarantee that some strangers won’t come up to you and throw you out of the office you’re legally renting. This happened to members of the Kyiv branch of a young people’s society “Sich”.  This civic organization not only had the premises taken away but also most of the property in it. We should add that the seizure took place in full view of a police unit who’d been called by members of the civic organization.

According to Maxim Shcherbatyuk, Programme Director for the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, “These and many other problems with property rights in Ukraine demonstrate that at present in Ukraine people cannot rely on their right to own, use and dispose of property being protected and enforced by the state to a level where they can feel that they are fully-fledged owners”.

[1]  The Universal Periodic Review is a procedure during which each country must report to the UN on how it has observed human rights and receive a critical assessment of its report.

Each country has a Universal Period Review once every 4-5 years. During the review, the country presents its report on the human rights situation. Human rights groups, in their turn, present a “shadow report”. Ukraine reported for the first time to the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights in 2008. 

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