Right to Protection is an NGO dedicatedto protecting the rights of asylum seekers, refugees, stateless andundocumented persons, as well as internally displaced and conflict affected persons.
Month: May 2021
Mrs. Kateryna (name changed), is almost 85 years old. In September 2014, a shell hit her home in the village of Taramchuk (Donetsk region). The house was completely destroyed.
A few dozen villagers helped the woman find temporary shelter, but living near the site of the ongoing fighting was unbearable.
Even then, there was no shop or hospital in Taramchuk, and there was no water, so sometimes Mrs. Kateryna had to collect rainwater for her own needs.
After some time, she moved to another settlement, away from the shelling.
Back then the state did not have a legal procedure for paying compensations for destroyed housing, all that women had was an act of destruction.
In mid-2020, Mrs. Kateryna came to the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P), and with the help of our lawyers, she filed a lawsuit. A few months later in September, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted Resolution №767 “The issue of monetary compensation to victims, whose houses (apartments) were destroyed as a result of a military emergency caused by the armed aggression of the Russian Federation.”
Therefore, together with Mrs. Kateryna, our team almost immediately submitted all the necessary documents for consideration by the commission. Already this year, Ms. Kateryna received compensation.
If your home has also been destroyed
as a result of hostilities
in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine
contact the CF Right to Protection (R2P) for legal assistance
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine restrictions, the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) team is actively organizing training and education events for the refugee communities.
We even managed to hold the group consultations. Everything, however, was in the online video conferencing format.
Since the beginning of the year, our colleagues have organized and conducted six online meetings for almost 70 refugees from Somalia, Afghanistan, Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and for a group of asylum seekers living in Temporary Accommodation Centre for refugees and asylum seekers in Yahotyn, Kyiv Region.
No matter where our beneficiaries come from and how they ended up in Ukraine, they are interested in the migration procedure.
What happens after filling the application for complementary protection at the State Migration Service of Ukraine?;
Which documents asylum seekers receive in Ukraine and what are their rights and responsibilities?;
How long does the procedure take and which stages does it involve?;
What to do in case of receiving a negative decision from the Migration Service and how to appeal it?;
What are the opportunities for employment and/or education/training?;
How to access medical services?;
How to open your own business in Ukraine?;
Which grant opportunities United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provide?;
Which services and help do the state and international organizations offer?;
How to register newborns?;
How to acquire citizenship (when it is possible and when it’s not), get a residence permit (and why one shouldn’t consider it a “panacea” or a “proper” refugee document)?;
What to do in case of document verification, detention, or extradition performed by the law enforcement agencies.
At the same time, each community is unique and has its very own characteristics and needs, by knowing which we can build effective communication and help solve current problems. Follow the updates of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) Legal Assistance to Refugees and Stateless Persons Project on the Facebook and Twitter pages to see the most recent activities we are carrying out for the development of the Refugee Communities to help this extremely vulnerable category of people integrate into Ukrainian society. After all, we sincerely believe in multiculturalism and that everyone should have access to the procedure for obtaining complementary protection in Ukraine.
On April 16, 2021, the procedure for recognition as a stateless person was introduced in Ukraine. As of now applications are actively being accepted and reviewed. Meanwhile, the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) provides free legal assistance to persons who need to confirm citizenship or obtain an official status of a stateless person.
During this month, lawyers of the CF “Right to Protection” helped 5 persons to apply for a stateless status, and on May 26, the State Migration Service of Ukraine (SMSU) accepted applications from two more of our beneficiaries in the Luhansk and Sumy regions. Unfortunately, not all departments and divisions of the SMSU accept applications yet, but gradually such an opportunity will open up for all the regions in Ukraine.
We offer you to get acquainted with the difficult path of a man who wants to be recognized as a stateless person, whose application is currently being considered in Severodonetsk, in the Luhansk region.
Wali was born in Tajikistan. In 1986 he came to study in the Luhansk region, where, after graduating from high school, he married, started a family, and decided to stay and live. Until 1993, he lived with a passport of a citizen of the former USSR, which he received in Tajikistan, but later he lost it.
In 1993, instead of losing his passport due to a lack of passport forms, Wali received a certificate with a photo. This was explained by the fact that in 1993 the passports of the citizens of the USSR of the 1974 model were no longer issued, and the passport forms of the citizens of Ukraine were not yet available. Wali lived with this certificate for almost 30 years and was never able to obtain a passport of a citizen of Ukraine.
The Migration Service refused to do so due to no possibility to confirm the citizenship of Ukraine. The reason for the refusals was that the man had changed his place of registration several times and, as of 24 August 1991, had not been registered anywhere.
To confirm the fact of living in Ukraine at this time, Wali decided to contact our organization. The lawyer of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) helped to collect all the necessary documents on the man’s residence, involved witnesses, and filed an application in the court to establish the fact of Wali’s residence on the territory of Ukraine as of August 24, 1991. But the Severodonetsk City Court denied the application due to a lack of evidence to establish this fact. The appellate court upheld the decision of the Severodonetsk City Court.
Having no confirmation of either the citizenship of Tajikistan or Ukraine, Wali remained de-facto stateless and had no official legal confirmation of his status.
With the adoption of the Stateless Determination Procedure on March 24, 2021, there was great hope for obtaining such a status. This will allow people like Wali to be able to enjoy life at its fullest: be employed officially, get married, buy real estate or a car, receive social protection and medical aid, move freely and travel abroad, and so on.
«Thanks to fruitful cooperation with the management and technical capabilities of the software of the Severodonetsk branch of the State Migration Service of Ukraine in the Luhansk region, Wali’s appeal was accepted together with documents and three witnesses. It took employees almost 7 hours to properly process his application. The man received a certificate of application for recognition as a stateless person, confirming his stay on the territory of Ukraine on legal grounds during the entire period of consideration of the application, which is 6 months,»
– says the lawyer of the R2P Serhiy Mykhailov.
«We welcome the first applicants who have exercised their right to apply for a stateless status. We have been waiting for this moment for many years, and now we are happy to inform our beneficiaries who have been invisible for many years that they can finally submit documents for consideration and determination of their legal status, »
– said Sofia Kordonets, Manager of the R2P Project “Legal assistance to stateless persons in Ukraine”.
We hope for quick and positive consideration of the application of Wali and all the other people who were first to access it!
Today we present the report ‘Crossing the contact line’ for April 2021, prepared by the NGO ‘Right to Protection’. The report is based on data collected during the monitoring of the situation on EECPs. More statistical data is available on the Eastern Ukraine Checkpoint Monitoring Online Dashboard: https://www.unhcr.org/ua/en/eecp-monitoring-2021
This month, crossing the contact line remained possible only through two EECPs: Novotroitske in Donetska Oblast and Stanytsia Luhanska in Luhanska Oblast, at a level considerably below the pre-COVID period. According to Joint Forces Operation data and R2P monitoring, the number of people crossing the contact line was without significant difference in April compared to March: over 53,000 and 52,823 respectively.
People crossing from NGCA at Novotroitske EECP in Donetska Oblast can buy a new cell phone if they don’t have one or if theirs does not allow installing “Vdoma” app. In April, a new procedure for this was put in place. Following a purchase order online, a store employee waits with the new phone at the entrance to the EECP. The client is accompanied to the entrance by servicemen and R2P to finalize the purchase. On average, this procedure is used by about 5 people per crossing day.
On 22 March, amendments were made to Resolution #1236 on quarantine COVID-19 measures that will facilitate the crossing procedure for NGCA residents. Therefore, when the vaccination starts NGCA residents willing to receive COVID-19 vaccines in GCA will be exempted from the mandatory two-week self-isolation (only under the conditions of presenting an invitation to vaccination with a unique identifier). However, the impact of the regulation remains limited given the current lack of access to vaccination.
During April, 4,554 vulnerable elderly persons were provided with transport support at Stanytsia Luhanska EECP by the NGO “Proliska” e-vehicle. Also, NGO “Proliska” with the financial support of UNHCR, installed two bus stops with solar panels and the possibility to charge devices.
R2P monitors facilitated 214 requests for crossing through the fast-track procedure and assisted about 1300 persons with installing “Vdoma” app.
The report is based on the results of a survey conducted by R2P at the five EECPs to enter the NGCA and administered on a regular basis since June 2017. The survey is a part of the monitoring of violations of rights of conflict-affected populations within the framework of the project ‘Advocacy, Protection, and Legal Assistance to IDPs’ implemented by R2P, with the support of UNHCR.
The purpose of the survey is to explore the reasons and concerns of those traveling from the NGCA to the GCA, as well as conditions and risks associated with crossing the line of contact through EECPs. The information collected in the survey helps identify protection needs, gaps, and trends, and provides an evidentiary basis for advocacy efforts.
Dmytro Hryhorovych was born back in 1951 in the city of Makiivka, which is currently in a Non-Government Controlled Area in Ukraine. During the Soviet era, the man lived in different parts of the former Soviet Union, including Georgia.
In 1980, Dmytro Hryhorovych received a passport of a citizen of the former USSR. However, this passport was lost in the 90s. It was not possible to restore it because the Soviet Union collapsed and the former Soviet republics became independent nations with their own migration structures.
Despite the fact that Mr. Dmytro lived in Ukraine, wherever he tried to apply, he was denied both the passport and citizenship. He was required to provide the original of the lost passport, which he had received in Georgia, as well as the court decisions confirming permanent residence in Ukraine in 1991. And an infinite number of other certificates…
Several lawsuits dragged on for years… Dmytro Hryhorovych continued to receive refusals from the Migration Service to issue a passport with different explanations.
The man turned to the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) for help. Our specialists took immediate measures to help Mr. Dmytro to obtain a passport. Multiple documents were received from the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, the courts, and the State Migration Service of Ukraine (SMSU), and as result, the new birth certificate was obtained.
It took our colleagues almost a year to help Dmytro Hryhorovych and to fulfill all the requirements of the SMSU. But the result was totally worth it – Dmytro Hryhorovych finally received his long-awaited passport as a citizen of Ukraine. He was 70 at the time!
Now a man can implement everything he was always dreaming about – to work officially and be insured, to have the right to a pension and medical care, to be useful to society, and to help people.
At least 10 million people worldwide are stateless, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) . The organization estimates that approximately 40,000 stateless persons are living in Ukraine. At the same time, no single institution in our country collects accurate data on the number of such people. Who are they and why did the problem of statelessness arise at all? Let’s try to find out. But first, let’s look at the definitions that will help to do it.
Stateless person (or just “Stateless”) – a person whom no country in the world recognizes as its citizen .
A person at the risk of statelessness – a person who has difficulty confirming the fact of belonging to the citizenship of Ukraine or any other state .
An unidentified person is an undocumented person whose nationality is unknown.
An undocumented person is a person who, due to certain life circumstances, does not have an identity document.
Identity documents: a passport of a citizen of Ukraine; passport of a citizen of Ukraine for travel abroad; diplomatic passport of Ukraine; service passport of Ukraine; seafarer’s identity card; crew member ID; identity card for return to Ukraine; temporary identity card of a citizen of Ukraine; driving license; stateless identity card for travel abroad; permanent residence permit; temporary residence permit; migrant certificate; refugee certificate; refugee travel document; certificate of a person in need of complementary protection .
Documents confirming the citizenship of Ukraine: a passport of a citizen of Ukraine; passport of a citizen of Ukraine for travel abroad; diplomatic passport of Ukraine; service passport of Ukraine; seafarer’s identity card; crew member ID; identity card for return to Ukraine; temporary identity card of a citizen of Ukraine .
Naturalization – the process of granting a foreigner or a stateless person the citizenship of Ukraine .
Certificate of application for recognition as a stateless person – a document issued to a person on the day of submission of the application for recognition as a stateless person for the entire period of its consideration. The certificate confirms the existence of the legal grounds for a temporary stay on the territory of Ukraine and is not a document proving the identity of an applicant .
The procedure for recognizing a stateless person is the procedure for granting a person who is not recognized as a citizen by any state the official status of a stateless person. This status makes it possible to document a person (provide an identity document) and ensure his/her rights within the legal stateless person status.
Violation of the rules of stay on the territory of Ukraine – those are the offenses defined by Article 203 of the Code of Ukraine on Administrative Offenses. For example, living without documents that provide with the right to reside in Ukraine; invalid documents or documents that are no longer valid; employment without appropriate permission (if required), etc.
THE PROBLEM OF STATELESSNESS IN UKRAINE: CAUSES AND SCALE
As we wrote above, UNHCR states that almost 40,000 stateless persons are living in Ukraine. At the same time, only about 5,000 of them are registered at the State Migration Service of Ukraine (SMSU). However, this list includes only people who have a residence permit – they are recognized as stateless and are documented by other states. The same is true in Ukraine, but only recently they got a chance to obtain official status.
These are people who have no grounds for obtaining Ukrainian citizenship, and the countries of origin do not recognize them as their citizens (in particular, the countries of citizenship of their parents). They have been living in Ukraine for years, deprived of the opportunity to obtain an identity document and allow them to stay legally in the country.
These people remain invisible to the state and cannot exercise their rights to education and health care, inherit, open a bank account, register a marriage, cross borders freely, and so on.
Among the reasons that led to the loss of citizenship: the collapse of the USSR, loss of documents, migration, loss of parents or limited information about them, ignorance of the order of restoration of documents, other personal circumstances.
More than half of the persons who receive legal assistance from the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) on issues of registration/confirmation of citizenship were born on the territory of Ukraine or the Ukrainian USSR.
The vast majority of all those who applied to the R2P (98.5%) were born in the countries of the former USSR. Thus, statelessness in Ukraine is primarily related to the consequences of the collapse of the USSR and the need to obtain citizenship of the successor states of the USSR.
Usually undocumented persons who apply to the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) for citizenship are also socially vulnerable. Those are single elderly people, Roma, persons released from places of detention, internally displaced persons (IDPs). For the most part, they do not have the appropriate education and legal background and therefore cannot change their status without legal aid.
Representatives of the Roma ethnic minority are also in a difficult situation, whose citizenship is difficult to prove due to the lack of identity documents of their parents and the inability to prove contact with them.
THE INFLUENCE OF AN ARMED CONFLICT
The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and the formation of illegal armed groups in the uncontrolled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in 2014 caused many problems with documenting the people living in those territories.
In the Non-Government Controlled Areas (NGCA) of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, the territorial subdivisions of the State Migration Service of Ukraine (SMSU), as well as the other governmental bodies, stopped their activities. Therefore, to apply to the SMSU in the Government-Controlled Areas (GCA) for registration of a passport, persons residing in the NGCA must cover long distances and cross the “contact line” through Entry-Exit Checkpoints (EECPs). The actual process of crossing the Checkpoints is difficult and physically exhausting, accompanied by several hours in an open-air with different weather conditions.
Until 2017, when the Unified State Demographic Register became operational, the Migration Service did not have a single electronic database of issued passports. Therefore, there is currently no information on Ukrainian passports issued before 2014 in Donbas. At the same time, the law requires that each person needs to be identified to be issued a passport.
The procedure for processing the documents for persons from Non-Government Controlled Areas is discriminatory in comparison with the rest of the population of the country due to the complex and lengthy identification procedure. This often hinders the issuance of a passport of a citizen of Ukraine, leaving a person in an uncertain legal status. For example, in order to simply paste a photo into a passport at the age of 25 and 45, a person usually has to go through the lengthy procedure of establishing a person in the territorial division of the State Migration Service. The same applies to the exchange in case of loss or damage of a passport issued before 2014 in the now NGCA of the Donbas region.
According to UNHCR, almost 65,000 children born in Non-Government Controlled Areas have not received Ukrainian birth certificates yet. Due to the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, they may have difficulty obtaining a passport when they will turn 14 years old.
Birth certificates issued by the so-called “authorities” at the NGCA from the second half of 2014 are not valid. In 2018, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed a law according to which documents confirming the fact of a child’s birth at the Non-Government Controlled Areas are now taken into account when registering the birth in Ukraine.
However, an administrative procedure for registering the birth of a child born in the Temporarily Occupied Territories (TOT) has not yet been introduced. The procedure for registering such a child is quite complex and requires: obtaining a written refusal from the State Registrar of Civil Status Acts (SRCSA) department in the territory controlled by the government of Ukraine; appeal to the court with a statement to establish the fact of the birth of a child; re-application to the SRCSA department with a court decision to obtain a birth certificate of the state standard.
Given the complexity of this procedure, it should be simplified, in particular, by introducing an administrative procedure for registering the birth of children (submission of documents to the department of SRCSA) .
LEGISLATIVE BASIS THE STATUS OF STATELESS PERSONS
The Constitution of Ukraine stipulates that human rights and freedoms and their guarantees determine the content and direction of state activity. The state is accountable to its citizens. The promotion and protection of human rights and freedoms is the main duty of the state. Also, current international agreements, approved by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, are part of the national legislation of Ukraine.
In 2013, Ukraine acceded to the 1954 UN Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons, the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, and adopted the Law on the Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons, which established the international definition of a stateless person. The documents oblige all the signatory sides (states) to ensure certain civil, economic, property, social, and other rights of stateless persons in their territories and also require compliance with certain requirements to reduce their number in their territories.
On June 16, 2020, the Parliament of Ukraine adopted the Law “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine Concerning Recognition as a Stateless Person”, which entered into force in July of the same year. The law brings the definition of a stateless person into line with the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons. Namely: “A stateless person is a person who is not considered a citizen of any state under its law” (instead of “following its legislation”). Such clarification of the definition of a stateless person will prevent the exclusion from this category of persons whose state of origin is required by law to consider them their citizens, but in practice denies citizenship.
In addition, this law defines the procedure for recognizing a person as a stateless person, which will give thousands of stateless living in Ukraine for many years or for their whole lifetime possibility to finally obtain an identity document and become full members of society and exercise their rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution of Ukraine to all citizens without exception.
The procedure for consideration of applications for recognition as stateless persons is determined by the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine № 317 of 24.03.2021 “Some issues of recognition as a stateless person”.
STATELESS DETERMINATION PROCEDURE IN UKRAINE
Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine № 317, which approves the “Procedure for consideration of applications for recognition as a stateless person” (hereinafter – the Procedure), entered into force on April 16, 2021. From now on, people who are undocumented due to the lack of citizenship have the opportunity to apply to territorial divisions and territorial bodies of the State Migration Service of Ukraine with a statement for recognition as a stateless person.
The law protects the vulnerable undocumented persons from requirements that cannot be met:
a person may apply for Stateless Determination Procedure regardless of the existence of legal grounds for residence in Ukraine;
the burden of proving that a person is not a citizen of any of the countries is imposed on the State Migration Service of Ukraine (SMSU) and not on the person (it is almost impossible to collect the necessary evidence for a person who does not have an identity document);
if necessary, the applicant will be provided with an interpreter, his/her documents will be translated;
a person whose application for recognition as a stateless person will be considered by the SMSU unit, or who will appeal the refusal to be recognized will be able to work officially at this time, but with the permission of the employment center;
during the procedure, the applicant has the right to an interview with a Migration Service employee.
At the same time, both the law and the Procedure establish a number of important responsibilities for persons applying for a stateless status:
the applicant is obliged to appear for interviews or to inform in advance about the need to postpone the date of the interview (there may be several);
provide evidence available to him to confirm his/her words;
if during the procedure the applicant has a new document that is essential for the procedure of recognition as a stateless person, he/she is obliged to provide it to the Migration Service within 10 working days from the date of receipt;
after receiving the decision on recognition as a stateless person, the applicant is obliged within ten days to apply to the SMSU for a temporary residence permit; if a person has been recognized as stateless, and after that he/she has acquired the citizenship of a foreign state, such a person is obliged to notify the Migration Service in writing within 30 days from the date of registration of citizenship.
The procedure distributes the powers of the State Migration Service of Ukraine regarding the procedure for recognizing stateless persons between its territorial bodies, territorial divisions, responsible structural units, employees, and the responsible authorized persons (officials) of the Service.
According to the Procedure, a person may apply at the place of residence to the territorial division/territorial body of the SMSU (regional branches, the list of which is available on the official website of the Migration Service). On the day of receiving the application, the Service issues a certificate of application for recognition as a stateless person to the applicant, which is valid for 6 months from the date of application and confirms that the person is temporarily on the territory of Ukraine on legal grounds.
It is impossible to estimate exactly how many people in Ukraine will be able to access the procedure. However, it will be available to at least 10% of the total number of beneficiaries of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P).
PROBLEMS WITH THE PROCEDURE FOR CONFIRMATION OF UKRAINIAN CITIZENSHIP
Article 3 of the Law of Ukraine “On Citizenship” defines the range of persons who are automatically recognized as the citizens of Ukraine. Confirmation of belonging to the citizenship of Ukraine is regulated by the “Procedure for Proceedings on Applications and Submissions on Citizenship of Ukraine and the Execution of Adopted Decisions”, approved by the Decree of the President of Ukraine on March 27, 2001, № 215.
If a person does not have sufficient documents to prove his / her citizenship in Ukraine, he/she must apply to the court to establish the fact (facts) that have legal significance. In particular, to establish the fact of residence on the territory of Ukraine as of 1991, to establish the identity of the applicant and/or belonging to the citizenship of the former USSR as of 1991.
A person must collect information about studying at school, college, university; about official employment for a certain period; living in a particular location; “Form 1” – an application for the issuance of a passport of a citizen of the former USSR; other information that can help establish the fact (facts) that have legal significance.
Collecting documents for an undocumented person is extremely problematic: without an identity document, authorities and institutions do not issue certificates. The success of such a case depends on the persistence of the person and the presence of a lawyer who can request the necessary information. Often the documents have to be translated (for example, a birth certificate issued by a foreign state) into Ukrainian at the expense of the applicant, and more than once.
It is extremely difficult to confirm the citizenship of Ukraine by a person who has lived and obtained a passport of a citizen of Ukraine in the now Non-Government Controlled Areas. Since internal (non-biometric) passports of Ukrainian citizens issued before 2016 are available only in paper variants, their authenticity can be confirmed only by comparing them with the data of the archival card in the archives of the territorial body where they were issued.
However, passports issued in the occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and at the NGCA of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts cannot be verified. In case of loss of this document, a person must establish not only his / her identity, but also the belonging to the citizenship of Ukraine.
Identification of a person and establishment of the citizenship of Ukraine in such cases is carried out in the manner prescribed by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine № 289 of June 4, 2014 “On approval of the Procedure for issuing documents confirming citizenship of Ukraine, identity or special status of the citizens in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine” and the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine “On approval of the sample form, technical description and the Procedure for registration, issuance, exchange, transfer, withdrawal, return to the state, invalidation, and destruction of Ukrainian passport” № 302 of March 25, 2015.
Based on the experience of our lawyers, who provide legal assistance in such complex cases, the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) has prepared a brochure on the legal protection of stateless persons, asylum seekers, and refugees. It outlines in detail the algorithms for confirming citizenship of Ukraine, identification, registration of the birth of a child, and other required procedures. Unfortunately, some individuals fail to prove their citizenship in Ukraine and become stateless or at the risk of statelessness.
HOW R2P HELP STATELESS PERSONS?
Lawyers and attorneys of the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) have been providing free legal assistance to people living in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts since 2017 in proving their citizenship of Ukraine or a foreign state, passing identification, confirmation of the fact of birth and in the collection of the documents required for recognition as a stateless person.
A coalition of partner organizations that protect the rights of refugees, displaced, migrants, and other vulnerable people has prepared and submitted a joint position to the relevant committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on the Bill №3475 “On Administrative Procedure”. The coalition’s comments in 2021 were partially taken into account. After the introduction of the administrative procedure in Ukraine it will support the other legal acts which regulate these issues.
The Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) team actively supported the need to establish a procedure for recognition as a stateless person in Ukraine after the ratification of the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons. The Foundation’s experts were actively involved in the process of drafting amendments to a number of laws of Ukraine on recognition as a stateless person in Ukraine. The Law of Ukraine “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine Concerning Recognition as a Stateless Person” was adopted on June 16, 2020, and entered into force on July 18, 2020. Read more about these changesfollowing this link.
In the process of implementation of the procedure for recognition as a stateless person, Fund facilitates the work of the State Migration Service of Ukraine by disseminating the information about the requirements for the procedure, as well as through providing free legal aid and support to stateless persons. At the same time, the R2P team monitors compliance with the legislation of Ukraine. We protect the rights of stateless persons wherever they are violated or restricted, in particular – in the court.
Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) reviews the legislation and provides recommendations to the authorities on improving the laws and by-laws of Ukraine. The organization was actively involved in the development of the new Human Rights Strategy and the draft Action Plan to the Strategy. The new Strategy in the field of human rights does not bypass the problem of statelessness in Ukraine, including in the context of creating a new procedure for recognition as a stateless person. Overview of the Strategy can be viewed following this link.
How Svitlana found herself without both
the citizenships of Ukraine and Russia
Svitlana was born in Kharkiv, USSR and lived in the Soviet Russia from 1979 to 1989, and then returned to Svitlodarsk, Ukraine (Donetsk region), where she met her future husband. From the beginning of their life together, the woman lived at the address of registration of her future husband in Svitlodarsk. In 2013, Svitlana lost her USSR passport and applied to the Debaltseve State Migration Service territorial unit in the Donetsk region to obtain citizenship.
However, she did not have confirmation of registration in Ukraine as of 24 August 1991, so the woman was denied Ukrainian citizenship – she had to prove her residence in Ukraine at the time of the declaration of independence.
Unfortunately, due to lack of evidence, the court also refused to establish Svitlana’s residence in Svitlodarsk at the time of Ukraine’s declaration of independence on August 24, 1991, and at the time of the adoption of the Law of Ukraine on Citizenship of Ukraine on November 13, 1991.
Svitlana appealed to the Russian consulate, but she was also told that she was not a Russian citizen. Thus, the woman was left stateless in both of the countries to which she was related, and none of these countries wanted to document her with a passport. She is forced to live in Ukraine without an identity document, without legal personality, freedom of movement, and normal life.
The woman is looking forward to the opportunity to apply for recognition as a stateless person in Ukraine, to obtain official status, get a job and receive social protection.
The story of a man who wanted to prove that he was Ukrainian
In 2019, a man who had no passport for 32 years turned to R2P for help in obtaining a passport of a citizen of Ukraine.
The problem was that he and his parents had lived in Antratsyt in the Luhansk region since 1989, and due to the life circumstances could not obtain a passport of a citizen of Ukraine at the age of 16 (he was sentenced to long-term imprisonment as a minor). After his release in 2014 in the Government-Controlled Area of Ukraine, the man was unable to return home.
Beneficiary applied to various bodies and subdivisions of the State Migration Service of Ukraine to obtain a passport of a citizen of Ukraine, but this ended in refusals, as there was no documentary evidence of his citizenship in Ukraine. The man tried to gather evidence to prove his citizenship on his own, but the city of Antratsyt, Luhansk Oblast, remained in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine. It was already obvious that his case required professional legal assistance.
Our lawyer collected the necessary evidence that the beneficiary belonged to the citizenship of Ukraine and filed a lawsuit to establish the fact of residence as a minor in Ukraine as of 24.08.1991 and the decision of the district court of Luhansk region satisfied the requirements.
After the court decision came into force, the beneficiary applied to the district department of the State Migration Service of Ukraine for citizenship of Ukraine. However, he later received a refusal based on the fact that the man had not submitted identity documents with the application.
It is possible to establish a person under such conditions only in court. The lawyer filed a lawsuit again to establish the identity of the man. However, the court refused to open proceedings, stating that the court could not consider cases of identification.
This decision is controversial and is currently being appealed. However, the lawyer’s prognosis is positive – with the court decision it will be possible to identify a person and move to the next stage in obtaining citizenship.
 The Law of Ukraine “On the Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons” contains the following definition: “a person who is not considered a citizen of any state under its law.” It passed into Ukrainian law from the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons (also known in Ukraine as the Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons).
 These primarily relate to the persons who were documented with a passport before 1991 and did not replace the passport after the collapse of the USSR. The lion’s share of stateless persons and at risk of statelessness is the Roma population, which due to gaps in the legislation lived in Ukraine for several generations without being documented and without the possibility to obtain any documents.
 According to the Law of Ukraine “On the Unified State Demographic Register and documents confirming the citizenship of Ukraine, identity or special status”
 Only there
 Conditions for admission to Ukrainian citizenship are defined by Article 9 of the Law of Ukraine “On Citizenship of Ukraine”. For example recognition of laws and the Constitution of Ukraine, knowledge of the state language, continuous residence in Ukraine for a certain period, termination of foreign citizenship, and others.
 The certificate is valid for 6 months and can be extended if the term of consideration of the application for recognition as a stateless person was being extended.
Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Committee on Human Rights, Deoccupation and Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories in Donetsk, Luhansk Regions and Autonomous Republic of Crimea, National Minorities and Interethnic Relations
Lubinets Dmytro Valeriiovych
Dear Dmytro Valeriiovych!
With this letter we express our respect to you and address you regarding the Committee’s consideration of the Draft Law on Amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Ensuring the Rights and Freedoms of Internally Displaced Persons” (Reg. №4487).
The purpose of the draft Law is to improve the legislative regulation of the implementation of the rights and freedoms of internally displaced persons (hereinafter – IDPs) in Ukraine, in particular, the right to social protection, housing, education, etc. In addition, for the first time at the legislative level, the Draft enshrines the powers of the central executive body, which ensures the formation, coordination and implementation of state policy concerning the IDPs.
It should be noted that the Law of Ukraine “On Ensuring the Rights and Freedoms of Internally Displaced Persons” was adopted in 2014 and became one of the first steps of the state’s response to mass internal displacement in connection with the Russian aggression against Ukraine. However, the situation is that the law was designed to regulate what has significantly changed in seven years. Most IDPs plan to live in communities at their new places of residence.
There is a need to change approaches to legislative regulation of the situation of long-term internal displacement in Ukraine in the future.
The Draft Law №4487 provides for a number of positive changes that will facilitate the ability of IDPs to exercise their rights and freedoms, as well as to receive services.
Among such changes are the following:
1. Improving the procedure for obtaining a certificate of IDPs in the absence of a registered place of residence in the settlement from which the internal relocation is carried out, namely:
changes to the grounds and procedures for issuing a certificate of registration of an internally displaced person (IDP) in case the person does not have a place of residence in the territory from which he/she has moved. Currently, to obtain a certificate, a person must provide documentary evidence of the fact of his/her residence at the time of the events that caused the internal displacement (February 20, 2014 – Crimea and Sevastopol, April 13, 2014 – Donetsk and Luhansk regions). However, such requirements are almost impossible to meet for children and young people. In particular, in 2020 this problem became significant for entrants from the temporarily occupied territories (TOT), who had to provide documentary evidence of IDPs living in the temporarily occupied territories at the time of the circumstances, i.e. when they were minors. In practice, this legal requirement has created a situation in which these individuals cannot obtain a certificate of registration of IDPs and, as a result, cannot claim social support from the state. The draft provides that the applicant may submit any evidence of the person’s residence in the occupied territories during the period of the circumstances that led to the relocation.
reduction of the term for making a decision on registration of an internally displaced person who does not have a registered place of residence from 15 to 7 working days, which will increase the level of protection of the rights of IDPs.
exemption from the obligation to repeat the procedure of confirming the fact of residence on the territory of the settlement from which the internal relocation is carried out if the person who received the IDP certificate changed the place of residence;
the obligation to reimburse the actual costs incurred by the state and local budgets as a result of the realization of the rights of a person in the case of submission of knowingly false information to obtain the IDP certificate.
In particular, it is proposed to establish at the level of the Law that the presence or absence of a certificate of registration of an internally displaced person cannot be a ground for restricting the exercise of rights and freedoms provided by the Constitution, laws or international treaties of Ukraine. Exceptions are cases where the IDP registration certificate provides additional guarantees or benefits related to the consequences of internal displacement.
2. For the purpose of exercising his / her rights and freedoms, an internally displaced person shall be deemed to be a permanent resident of the territory of the settlement in which he / she is registered as an internally displaced person.
A significant number of IDPs have lived in host communities for more than 6 years and plan to remain in these communities in the future. This is confirmed by numerous reports from international and local NGOs & CSOs.
Thus, in the Joint Assessment of the Needs of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Internally Displaced Persons in Ukraine conducted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2019, respondents noted the priority of local integration based on housing, work and community participation. Such individuals consider themselves part of the host communities and need access to its opportunities (public services, government benefits, employment, participation in local affairs, instruments of local democracy) on an equal footing with local residents.
However, these conditions are unequal, first of all due to the additional requirements for IDPs (in particular, regular identification and verification procedures to confirm their residence in the host communities). Second, IDPs remain invisible to local authorities, as they are mostly not formally residents, as they do not have a registered place of residence in the community. Therefore, their residence in the community is not considered permanent. As a result, some of the opportunities provided at the local level remain inaccessible to IDPs in full and only half of the tools of the local democracy are available to this category of citizens.
3. At the level of the Law it is proposed to settle the issue of ensuring the realization of the right of internally displaced persons to a free temporary residence.
The Draft proposes to supplement the Law with a new Article 9-2, which provides for the right of internally displaced persons to housing and the obligation of the state to provide them with housing through the development of housing programs at national and local levels, including social or temporary housing, low-interest loans and more. It is proposed to consolidate the main approaches to providing IDPs with housing from the temporary residence fund at the level of the Law, as such issues are currently regulated by bylaws. In addition, the right of IDPs to compensation for damaged or destroyed housing is provided, and this issue is currently regulated at the level of the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers.
4. The draft Law defines the powers of the central executive body that ensures the formation, coordination and implementation of state policy on internally displaced persons.
In particular, the main powers of such a body include the promotion of the full realization of the rights and freedoms of internally displaced persons, as well as the search for and implementation of the long-term solutions for them, in particular, integration in a new place of residence; assistance in the order established by the legislation to social security of internally displaced persons (IDPs); coordination of measures to strengthen the resilience of the host territorial communities; collection and analysis of information on the need to provide housing and address other issues of social protection of internally displaced persons from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and persons who have gone abroad.
We, the representatives of organizations concerned with the protection of the rights of victims of the conflict fully support the adoption of the draft Law on Amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Ensuring the Rights and Freedoms of Internally Displaced Persons” (Reg. №4487) and appeal to the Committee to consider the draft as soon as possible and recommend it for adoption by the Verkhovna Rada in the first reading.
Umu Diallo was born in Guinea. Today the woman lives and works in Odesa, Ukraine. She makes professional hairstyles that are especially popular during the holiday season, and also runs her own shoe store. She has a 2 y.o. daughter, Rugiyatu.
Umu has been living in Ukraine since 2011. In 2012, she received the status of a person in need of complementary protection. As the woman says, she divides her life into what was before and after. And the starting point is 2011 when she tried to cross the border of Ukraine and was detained.
Umu could not stay in Guinea because she was forced to marry as a minor. Her husband systematically beat and mocked her, and she had absolutely no single chance to protect herself in this country. At the time of her detention, the woman was in a state of psychophysical stress, which doctors said was due to domestic violence in Guinea.
At first, the situation she got in Ukraine gave enough reason for despair. Umu was detained together with a group of other forced migrants. All of them were placed in the Temporary Holding Facility of the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) in order to identify and later deport them from Ukraine. The young woman did not understand the language and legal grounds for her detention, and she also had health problems due to her suffering.
The fact that Umu was a minor at the moment of detention was not established immediately, but when it was, in violation of all existing norms, SBGS continued to keep her in the Temporary Holding Facility for Foreigners and Stateless Persons. When Umu received legal aid, the decision to detain her was appealed, but this complaint was considered by the court only after her release from custody. Lawyers also helped Umu apply to the State Migration Service of Ukraine for international protection.
Umu was released from Temporary Holding Facility only a year after her detention. Two months after detention she applied for international protection. Umu was detained illegally for almost 6 months. Women’s lawyers have failed to achieve justice in national courts, so in 2012 they applied to the European Court of Human Rights.
In this case (Nur and Others v. Ukraine), the European Court of Human Rights found that Ukraine had violated Article 5 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: the right to liberty and security of a person. Ukraine was obliged to pay Umu 9,800 euros in moral damages.
Now the woman finally feels happy! She says that after the end of the quarantine restrictions she is ready to take up her work actively, she really wants her daughter to acquire Ukrainian citizenship and build her life in the country that provided her with protection!
According to Svitlana Butenko, advocate at the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P), violations of the rights of asylum seekers from different countries are still occurring in Ukraine. This includes the impossibility of access to international protection at the border and in places of detention, as well as the excessive length of proceedings for appeals against illegal decisions of the authorities in the courts.
«The story of Umu gives us the opportunity to show the real people behind the numerous “compensation stories”, as well as to tell the world about their sufferings. No matter where these people are now – in remand prisons, Migrant Accommodation Centers, Temporary Holding Facilities, regardless of how they entered the country – legally or illegally. Yet the main thing is that all seekers of protection have the right to liberty, and detention must be justified in every single case. »
Zulfiya was born in 1990 in the city of Horlivka in the Donetsk region. Her parents left her when she was a child. Until the age of 14 y.o. she was raised by her aunt. It was not possible to get a birth certificate and passport, because Zulfiya was born outside of maternity hospital.
After reaching the age of 14, the woman began to live independently, she even had her own family. In Horlivka, Zulfiya gave birth to two children: a boy Ramir and a girl Kamila. However, the woman could not register their birth because she did not have any documents.
After the beginning of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Zulfiya and her children moved to Mariupol, where she later gave birth to two more children, Janusz and Milana. It was also not possible to register their birth as it is required to have a passport to do that.
In 2019, Zulfiya turned for help to the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P). Our lawyers urgently began to deal with the issue of registration of children and collect the necessary documents that would confirm the fact of their birth in Mariupol.
Subsequently, two children received their birth certificates. However, the other two children, Ramir and Kamila are still living without certificates. Their cases require court proceedings and decisions without which it is simply impossible to register the fact of birth.
To help the woman, an application was filed with the court to establish the fact of her birth in Horlivka. After a year of consideration of the case, the court issued a decision, according to which it was possible to obtain a birth certificate for the woman.
Zulfiya saw it for the first time in 30 years of her life and was infinitely happy about it. Now, having received a birth certificate, the woman will apply to the migration service for a passport. Zulfiya really wants to change her life for the better and to have a worthy place in society!