More questions about passports, biometric details and Hrytsak’s plans


Viktor Tymoshchuk, Deputy Head of the Centre for Political and Legal Reform has already expressed criticism and grave concern over the implications of the Law on a Single State Demographic Register passed by the Verkhovna Rada at the beginning of October.  His concerns are linked with the unnecessary number of documents with biometric information and the excessive amount of information the authorities will gather about members of the public, as well as the lack of safeguards ensuring that such data does not, as often, end up freely available for sale. They are shared by many human rights organizations, for example, the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.

Mr Timoshchuk was scheduled to have a studio discussion at Radio Svoboda with author of the law Vasyl Hrytsak.  The latter is known to have close links with the SSAPS Consortium [the Single State Automated Passport System) which wants to produce the biometric passports and has tabled many such bills over the last few years.

Mr Hrytsak did not, however, arrive and questions to him were put by the presenter by telephone.

Viktor Timoshchuk says that the only information which Mr Hrytsak gave was that the cost of an internal passport (the identity document each citizen has) would be 120 UAH.  According to the law, this must be renewed every 10 years, making it a reasonable expense for a large number of people.. Mr Hrytsak also directly acknowledged that the new universal database would be serviced by the police.

This, Timoshchuk says, is no real surprise since it is stated in the law, only in much more bureaucratic language. “However this does not make one feel better. In a country with authoritarian tendencies parliament has allowed the police to gather maximum information about each individual.”

With regard to money, the author has done the relatively simply calculations and found that just on internal passports, Ukrainian taxpayers will be forking out almost 900 million UAH, and this is merely taking those under 16 into account – almost 7.5 million people at 120 UAH per passport.

“Later there’ll be new billions earned on documents since another 38 million Ukrainians will gradually come for new internal passports.

Incidentally, from the text of the law it’s not clear who’ll pay these 120 UAH –  the State budget or the individual ordering a passport.”.

The author points out that a lot of people still have Soviet driving licences which will also need to be replaced.  The price will not be less than 120 UAH since the technology behind the preparation is the same. Good profit can therefore be expected from the forced change in these documents which has to take place by 1 January 2014.

Since the author was either unable to put many questions to Hrytsak, or unable to receive an answer, he formulates them in his text.

What is the purpose of creating an integrated database – the Single State Demographic Register which already at the first stage will include the databases of the Interior Ministry; State Migration Service; Public Registry Offices; then later the information systems of other state bodies?

Do “official information systems” including the databases of the Justice Ministry; the Tax Administration; the Ministry of Social Policy; the Central Election Commission and so forth? Does MP Hrytsak understand that the creation of such a database is in breach of the Constitution and international standards on personal data protection?

Why does a law presented as a step towards implementation of the EU Visa Liberalization Plan for Ukraine affect documents which have nothing to do with this issue, including internal passports and driving licences?

Why is the list of documents to be prepared with the use of the Single State Demographic Register not exhaustive and not disclosed?

What is the purpose of Ukraine’s introduction of expensive production and implementation of a new internal passport with an electronic chip?

How much will it cost a person to receive an internal passport? 

How much will the production and issue of an internal passport cost the State budget? What equipment is needed and how much will the job cost and the machine for reading the information?  How much equipment, and therefore funding, will be needed to provide for this equipment by the authorities at different levels?

How will banks, employers and others carry out identification of citizens and establish their place of residence?

Why does the internal passport not envisage mandatory indication of residence and how will a person be able to confirm this?

Why do people with Soviet driving licences need to replace them with the new type even if they’re not planning to travel abroad?

Is it known how many people will be affective and how much the new document will cost for each person, bearing in mind also the cost of receiving a medical certificate and other related expenses? Why has only one year been set aside for this?

Why is MP Hrytsak against the passports being printed by State enterprises?  Why is there no open tender on the printing of passports, driving licences etc?

Why has Hrytsak initiated amendments to the Budget Code regarding payment of administrative services? Does this mean that citizens will continue to pay state duty for administrative services, and also additional payments of dubious legitimacy established by Cabinet of Ministers acts “for preparation and issue of a passport”, “for the form”, “for a form when renewing a passport after 10 years” and so forth?

Why does the law not specify the specific cost of each document?

Why does the law not regulate the procedure for issue of documents, the list of documents required for receiving each, the specific prices etc?

Why did the pro-President majority ignore the last Presidential address to parliament where he named among priority tasks the need to delegate bodies of local self-government   functions on issuing internal documents and registering place of residence?

There are of course many other questions, however in fact it is for citizens to choose whether to accept such mockery from such laws.

Viktor Timoshchuk adds a PS stressing that the Centre for Legal and Political Reform fully supports the passing of a law regulating documents for travel abroad, including the use of biometric information. 

This law must not, however, include the creation of an integrated inter-departmental database nor affect other documents, like driving licences. 

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