The strategic litigation on crossing the checkpoints between the peninsula and the mainland part of Ukraine with personal belongings has been won in the court of appeal

The lawyers hope that the judgment will be a model in similar cases and will help to abolish notorious Decree no. 1035 of the Cabinet Ministers of Ukraine that violates the rights of internally displaced persons.

On December 14, 2016, the Odessa Administrative Court of Appeal delivered a judgment in the case concerning the ban to cross the checkpoints with occupied Crimea by IDPs with personal belongings that are listed as permitted things in accordance with Decree no. 1035 of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. Why is this important and what will it mean for the rights of the Crimean people?

We recall that this year IDPs from Crimea, who now live in the Odessa region, were not allowed to cross the checkpoins with personal belongings in their luggage in their cars because these belongings are not listed in the list of allowed items according to Decree no. 1035 of the Cabinet of Ministers, adopted in December last year. The lawyer Yulia Lisova won the case in the court of first instance on September 26, 2016. The District Administrative Court issued a judgment, which declared illigal that the Department of Kherson Customs of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine refused to carry IDPs’ belongings through the checkpoint between the occupied Crimea and the mainland part of Ukraine that do not belong to the list of allowed according to Decree no. 1035 of CMU. The Strategic Litigations Center of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union supported the case.

According to Yulia Lisova, after hearing in the Court of Appeal, we can make two conclusions. The positive conclusion is that the Court of Appeal did not support the ban for transportation of personal belongings. As the lawyer stressed, the ban is a violation of Article 1 of the First Protocol to the European Convention – property rights, and the court agreed. The decision of the Court of Appeal should be the future reference for courts of first instance in such situations.

Lawer Yulia Lisova
Lawyer Yulia Lisova

Yulia Lisova said that the negative conclusion is the negative attitude of customs officers, which was once again demonstrated in the courtroom – a very formal attitude to their duties without understanding the real consequences for thousands of citizens of Ukraine that Decree no. 1035 led to. Customs officers tried to convince the court that the decision does not create any problems, “Those, who wanted to leave and carry everything they need could do it by 2016”. The Representatives of Customs indicated that personal belongings can be considered only those that are not prohibited for carriage, and everything else is considered a commodity.

The lawyer hopes that the decision of the court of appeal becomes something of a precedent and it will be a model for several cases later. The real victory will be stated only after the abolition of the notorious Decree.

“The more customs will go to the courts and receive negative judgments there, the more likely that the Decree will be canceled,’ says the lawyer.

For now, all Crimean immigrants have to repeat a complicated sequence of actions after attempting to transport personal belongings from the occupied homeland.

Photo by Yulia Lisova, background photo – Crimea. Reality

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