Make a donation
Укр / Eng
27.01.21

Today we present the Report “Resolution #767: Challenges and obstacles for participation in the programme”.

This report is mainly based on the results of the survey about intentions, challenges and obstacles encountered during participation in the compensation programme for damaged/destroyed housing objects launched within CMU resolution №767. In addition, a significant deal of information was gathered during our monitoring visits to plenty of settlements in Donetska and Luhanska oblasts in the period of October-December.  

Overall, our respondents were surveyed on 826 cases, including 325 on destroyed and 501 on damaged housing objects. 

Our outreach workers and the legal team also took part in some of the commission assessment sessions either as observers or members, thus they had an opportunity to obtain firsthand experience in the implementation of the programme. By focusing on the perspective of claimants, this report complements a survey conducted by UNHCR in November 2020, which focuses on the functioning of the local assessment commissions, based on observations from R2P and other NGO members or observers in these commissions.  

R2P launched this survey primarily to find out whether this programme is relevant for its target audience, as well as to reveal the pitfalls of the programme from the perspective of participants. Therefore, we decided to survey our beneficiaries of IDP and conflict-affected background who reportedly had problems with damaged/destroyed housing objects and those potential beneficiaries whom our outreach workers already knew or got to know during field trips. The survey has been conducted in the period of October-November in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts via phone and face-to-face interviews. Besides, upon the completion of the survey, some cases were directed to R2P legal team for further investigation. As a result, our team not only conducted research but also promptly provided assistance to those who were willing to participate in the programme but for some reason experienced difficulties with applying for monetary compensation/assistance.

The report is available in English and Ukrainian.

26.01.21

Ukraine is a signatory to the Convention on Status of Refugees. Article 33 of this document prohibits extradition of a person to the frontiers of territories where his/her life or freedom would be threatened on account of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. The same principle is enshrined in the Ukrainian legislation, particularly in the Criminal Procedure Code in the section on extradition.

 It is prohibited in Ukraine:

  • to send;
  • to extradite;
  • to forcibly return not only recognized refugees, but also persons who have applied for international protection (asylum seekers).

If another state applies to Ukraine with an official request for extradition, then an extradition check is mandatory.  It must be established whether there are circumstances that prevent the extradition of a person.

If a person applied to the State Migration Service of Ukraine with an application for refugee status or appealing a negative decision on his/her application, then this fact must be established during the extradition checking. In this case, the migration procedure will be the main argument for non extradition of a person.

The extradition procedure consists of the several stages:

  • another state makes an official appeal to Ukraine;
  • extradition checking;
  • decision on the extradition request (which can be appealed in court);
  • extradition.

The complexity of the procedure requires qualified legal assistance.

If you are a protection seeker and you are concerned that extradition may be initiated against you, be sure to inform your lawyer about that. In case extradition begins, legal assistance is essential.

More on this topic:

Check out Refugee Helper chatbot page on Facebook for more useful information


UNHCR Ukraine – Aгентство ООН у справах біженців в Україні

25.01.21

On December 23, 2020, the Government amended the Procedure for Provision of Temporary Use of Housing from Housing Funds for Temporary Accommodation of Internally Displaced Persons, approved by the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine № 582 of June 26, 2019 (hereinafter referred to as the Procedure). Changes came into force on December 30, 2020.

The team of the Right to Protection CF analyzed the document. So, what was changed?

1. Abolition of requirements for the period of a person’s registration in the Unified Information Database on Internally Displaced Persons (hereinafter – the “Information Base”) can be considered one of the most important changes in the Procedure.

In accordance to the requirements of the previous version of paragraph 6 of the Procedure, the internally displaced person had to apply for registration as a citizen in need of housing from the temporary housing funds. 

Similarly, the previous version of the second paragraph of item 1 of the Procedure included the possibility to provide internally displaced persons and their family members with accommodation at the place of actual residence / stay within the service area of ​​the relevant authorities where they were registered in the Information Database.

Currently, internally displaced persons can initiate the process of registration and obtaining accommodation for temporary residence without waiting for a year of registration.

Have the conditions for the housing location been changed? 

No, the conditions regarding the place of application for registration and the territory of housing provided have not been changed.

As before, according to paragraph 6 of the Procedure, the application is submitted “to the relevant center for administrative services or the relevant local self-government body, and in their absence – to the relevant civil-military administration (hereinafter – the authorized bodies) within the service area of ​​the social protection body where they are registered in the Unified Information Database on Internally Displaced Persons “.

Similarly, the second paragraph of the Procedure still includes the notion that housing for internally displaced persons is provided “at the place of actual residence / stay within the service area of ​​district, district state administrations in Kyiv, executive bodies of city councils, in which these persons and their family members are registered in the Unified Information Database on Internally Displaced Persons.”

In addition, according to paragraph 2 of the Procedure on the formation of housing funds for temporary residence of internally displaced persons (approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine № 582 of 26.06.2019 and was not amended in the future) “housing from the funds must comply with sanitary and technical  requirements and be located within one administrative-territorial unit (district, city, district in the city, town, village) at the place of actual residence / stay of an internally displaced person.”

Therefore, based on the above provisions of the Procedure, the territory of temporary accommodation for internally displaced persons still remains limited and directly depends on the territory of service of the bodies in which they are registered in the Information Base. Opportunity to receive housing in any place/settlement in Ukraine will require additional further amendments to the legislation.

2. Increasing the term for making a decision on registration of internally displaced persons

The term of decision-making on registration / refusal of registration of an internally displaced person by the authorized bodies has been extended by item 18 of the Procedure. If earlier this period was 10 days, now the relevant decision is made by the authorized body within 30 calendar days from the date of submission of the conclusion of the housing commission on registration of internally displaced persons and provision of housing for temporary residence to internally displaced persons (hereinafter – the “Commission”).

3. Removal from the Registry of Internally Displaced Persons.

One of the most important innovations of the updated Procedure is that a person can request to be removed from the IDP database if certain grounds are met. 

According to paragraph 20 of the Procedure, the grounds for removal of an internally displaced person from the Register are:

  • application of an internally displaced person for deregistration;
  • change of residence by a person;
  • cancellation of the certificate of registration of an internally displaced person if there are grounds provided for in part one of Article 12 of the Law of Ukraine “On Ensuring the Rights and Freedoms of Internally Displaced Persons”;
  • failure to receive an move-in permission (to be allowed to reside in new housing) within 30 calendar days;
  • submission of knowingly unreliable information that became the basis for registration of an internally displaced person.

Particular attention in this case should be paid to the move-in permission and an application for deregistration.

According to the Procedure, the decision on deregistration must contain grounds for this and may be appealed in court.

At the same time, the issue of notifying an internally displaced person of his / her deregistration remains unresolved. Unlike the provisions of paragraph 19 of the Procedure, which clearly define the term and method of notifying a person on the final decision to register / refuse to register, the Procedure does not establish the method and terms for notifying a person of his/her deregistration. The settlement of this issue will require further amendments to the Procedure.

4. The issue on obtaining move-in permission.

Amendments to paragraph 30 of the Procedure regarding the expansion of the circle of persons who may be given housing move-in permission will have a positive impact. 

Earlier the Procedure was available only to the displaced persons (for whom it was initially issued). Now the move-in permission can also be handed over to the authorized representative of the internally displaced persons on the basis of a written power of certified attorney.

On the other hand, the new provisions introduced in paragraph 30 of the Procedure: “when an internally displaced person or his/her authorized representative has not received a move-in permission within 30 calendar days without good reason or has not been notified within the same period of time means that they are deprived of the right to obtain a property move-in permission. This does not deprive internally displaced person of the right to re-apply for registration.”  

This then becomes the basis for gathering of the Commission on the provision of appropriate housing to other internally displaced persons.

According to the Procedure, reasons that do not depend on the will of the internally displaced person or the authorized representative are considered good / valid.

5. Criteria for prioritizing the provision of housing to internally displaced persons.

The priority of providing housing to internally displaced persons is determined by the number of points scored by the person / family, in accordance with the scoring system established by the Procedure.  

As before, points are accrued according to the criteria stipulated by the Procedure, which are divided into priority, according to which family with the highest indicator has more chance to receive housing (for example, families with two children – 26 points; families with one child – 25 points; large families – 2 points per family; families with incapable persons – 2 points per family, persons authorized to perform the functions of the state or local self-government from among the internally displaced persons – 3 points per person).

At the same time, the amendments to paragraph 25 of the Procedure stipulate that the decision of the authorized body may approve a list of additional general criteria, the total number of points for which may not exceed 20 points per family.

It should be noted that the establishment by individual authorities of various additional general criteria could potentially lead to a lack of equality in the treatment of internally displaced persons in the country and the preference of some categories of persons over others.

6. Extension of the maximum period of the property usage

As before, according to paragraph 32 of the Procedure, housing is provided to internally displaced persons for temporary use for up to one year with the possibility of extension for the next period in the absence of changes in their status and if they have not acquired another place of residence.

To do this, the internally displaced person must apply to the authorized body with a statement (the name of the statement was changed to “application for extension of a usage period of  housing from the housing fund for temporary residence of internally displaced persons”), which is accompanied by documents under paragraph 8 of the Procedure.

The application deadline has been changed.  Now the internally displaced person must submit such an application to the authorized body no later than 60 calendar days before the expiration of the contract for the use of housing (previously it was submitted no later than 30 calendar days before the expiration of the contract).

The Commission is obliged to consider such an application not later than 50 calendar days before the expiration of the contract and notify the applicant in writing of the conclusion made by it. The authorized body makes a final decision (on the basis of the decision of Commission) no later than the expiration of the contract (restriction “within two working days from the date of receipt of the conclusion of the commission” was excluded from the final draft).

7. Expansion of the list of grounds for early termination of the contract for the provision of housing

The list of grounds for the Commission’s decision to terminate the provision of housing for temporary residence of IDPs established by paragraph 45 of the Procedure was expanded and supplemented with the following grounds:

“ – non-residence of IDPs in an apartment continuously for more than half of the term of the contract. Fact of non-residence is confirmed by the information received from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the State Border Service Administration, the National Police, as well from the other executive bodies.”


Earlier we told that our colleagues from the Severodonetsk office participated in the Work meeting on the amendments to the resolution on housing for IDPs.

19.01.21

How to reduce the risk of emergencies in Eastern Ukraine?

Members of 3P Consortium know how! Being established in 2019 specifically for this purpose by the group of Ukrainian and international non-governmental organizations: ACTED, IMPACT Initiatives, Right to Protection CF, Danish, Austrian and Ukrainian Red Cross, 3P works everyday to reduce environmental and man-made risks and to prevent emergencies. Project is funded by the European Union within the framework of Disaster Risk Reduction in Eastern Ukraine project

It is high time to tell about main achievements of the project!

Click to download the 5th edition of Prevent Prepare Protect Consortium newsletter in English

15.01.21

Today we publish the report ‘Crossing the contact line’ for December 2020, prepared by ‘Right to Protection’. It 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

HIGHLIGHTS:   

  • During the 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.
  • In December, about 443 people were authorized to cross to the government-controlled areas (GCA) at the Novotroitske EECP and about 893 people crossed the contact line to nongovernment-controlled areas (NGCA). At Stanytsia Luhanska EECP over 21,000 people crossed the contact line to GCA and over 25,000 people to NGCA.
  • On 25 November, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted Resolution No. 1161 with the aim of legally regulating the procedure for crossing the contact line through temporarily closed EECP for cases of humanitarian nature. Such grounds are recognized as: return to the place of residence; family reunification; serious illness; the death of close relatives; the need to provide medicines or undergo treatment; departure from NGCA for permanent or temporary residence in another state; crossing the EECP by a child accompanied by one of the parents; crossing the EECP for the purpose of visiting an educational institution for training; the need to ensure the protection of national interests or in connection with the fulfillment of international obligations by foreign diplomats; acceptance of inheritance. No change in the crossing process was observed on the ground following the release of the resolution.
  • During the month of December, 8,222 vulnerable elderly persons were provided with transport support at Stanytsia Luhanska EECP by the NGO “Proliska” e-vehicle.

The document is available in English and in Ukrainian


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.

23.12.20

Since 2017, the legal team of the Right to Protection CF has been accompanying 36 lawsuits to protect the rights of injured persons or persons who have lost close relatives. 8 cases out of these have already successfully passed the appellate stage and are before the Supreme Court of Ukraine, as the defendant (the state of Ukraine), contrary to the norms of international and national law, does not agree to pay compensation to such persons.  

As of July 31, 2020, at least 3,367 civilians had been killed in more than six years of armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, including non-combatants (according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Report on Human Rights Situation in Ukraine for the period 16.02.2020-31.07.2020).

Not only the soldiers who defended Ukraine were killed throughout the 7 years of conflict in eastern Ukraine. There were also civilians who found themselves “in the wrong place” and “at the wrong time”. And Ukraine should take responsibility for the lives of its citizens. Why – read in this material.

As we wrote earlier, one case on the compensation for civilian casualties was won by the lawyers of the Right to Protection in the Kharkiv Court of Appeal. From now on, this case will be heard by the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court.

Circumstances

On March 12, 2015, during an anti-terrorist operation (ATO) in the village of Krasny Partizan in Yasynuvata district of the Donetsk region, Alla D. was blown on mine in a car with another passenger. Only civilians were in this car. They moved from the area of ​​active conflict. The woman’s son, Olexandr D., learned of his mother’s death over the phone. Despite the risks to personal safety, he went to organize his mother’s funeral.

More than 5 years have passed now, but the loss of mother for Olexandr is lifelong and irreparable. This led to significant negative changes in his life and deeply traumatized his personality. He did not receive any compensation for moral damage from the state.With the help of the lawyers of the Right to Protection CF Olexandr filled in the lawsuit against the State of Ukraine for the compensation of moral damage caused by the terrorist act that led to the death of his mother.

The decision of the Kharkiv District Court of the Kharkiv Region of April 24, 2019 was in favor of Oleksandr and ordered the government to pay UAH 300,000 from the State Budget of Ukraine in compensation for non-pecuniary damage.

On the 30.07.2019 the Kharkiv Court of Appeal changed the decision of the first instance court regarding the amount of compensation for non-pecuniary damage and changed it to the amount of UAH 500,000 to be paid in favor of Oleksandr. Expectedly, the Government of Ukraine filed a cassation appeal, which was accepted by the Supreme Court.

Why it matters

Following the amendments to the procedural law that came into force in 2017, the Supreme Court has the right to pass some of the received cases to the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court, in particular, for the formation of a unified law enforcement practice. This usually happens in cases that are complex and ambiguous due to conflicting legislation or the absence of such. If the Grand Chamber decides in such case, its conclusions will be binding on all such cases, i.e. a kind of legal precedent will be created to be applied by all courts of Ukraine. This will allow both plaintiffs and the state to understand the prospects of such cases, and the courts – to understand the prospects of reviewing their decisions in such cases, which will significantly speed up their consideration and minimize the number of judicial errors.

By a decision of 18 November 2020, the Supreme Court exercised this right and remitted case №640 / 20038/19 referred to in the article to the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case on 25 November 2020.  The trial (unfortunately, without summoning the parties) was conducted on December 22, 2020.  We will learn about the results of the case next year.

Right to Protection CF hopes for a speedy hearings of the case and the Court’s decision, that will not only help the victims receive fair compensation, but will also encourage the state to develop an administrative procedure for obtaining compensation without overloading the courts.


Oleh Tarasenko,

Lawyer, Senior Strategic Lawyer of the Right to Protection CF

Olena Prikhodko,

Lawyer, Head of the Kharkiv Regional Office of the Right to Protection CF

17.12.20

Right to Protection CF prepared a monthly report «Crossing The Contact Line» for November 2020. It is based on the data collected during the monitoring of the situation at the Entry-Exit Checkpoints (EECPs).

Trends, dynamics and findings

  • After the resumption of full operation of the Stanytsia Luhanska EECP on November 10, the number of crossings of the contact line increased by 35% in November compared to October (29184 and 21373, respectively), but at the same time it is only 2.25% of 1.2 millions of people who crossed the line of contact in November 2019. Most of the crossings were made at the Stanytsia Luhanska EECP (95%), and only 5% at the Novotroitske EECP.
Stanytsia Luhanska Entry-Exit Checkpoint
  • In November 2020, about 1,084 people crossed the contact line towards the Government-Controlled Areas (GCA) of Ukraine and 494 people towards the Non-Government Controlled Areas (NGCA) of Ukraine in the Donetsk region through the Novotroitskoye checkpoint, which remains the only checkpoint in the Donetsk region where there is a possibility of crossing the agreed lists of persons. The crossing takes place every Monday and Friday. The conditions are the same as in the previous month: in order to obtain a permit to enter or leave the NGCA, a person is required to be on the special list.
  • At the beginning of November, crossing the contact line was possible only on the basis of a special permit from the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) Command for people with registration at the place of residence in the NGCA of Luhansk region and who have proven reasons to cross. On November 10, the JFO Command issued an order to lift these restrictions and resume the work of the Stanytsia Luhanska EECP. During this month, 13,981 people crossed the contact line in the direction of the Government-Controlled Areas of Ukraine, and 13,595 people in the direction of the Non-Government Controlled Areas of Ukraine.
  • 65% of citizens had difficulty installing the “Home” app (previously named “Act. Home”, an app developed by the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine for providing the ability to self-isolate at home – ed.n.). Among the problems that were voiced were the long app installation time, the lack of an Internet connection on the EECPs or communication problems, as well as confirmation SMS message was not sent to them.
  • According to the survey, people’s opinions and concerns about the situation around the coronavirus pandemic were different, as 55% of citizens do not feel to be concerned much about COVID-19, and 43% have questions about the safety during the crossing of the contact line. According to the data, 65% of respondents believe that the distance in the queue at the Entry-Exit Checkpoints is quite short, another 42% said that they think that other people around are wearing masks incorrectly, and another 7% have questions about the safety of the public transport.
  • About 61% of people cross the line of contact because of the relatives who live in the GCA and NGCA of Ukraine. One third of the citizens do so due to their needs to withdraw funds and / or problems with their pensions / social benefits.

For more information, download the report of the Right to Protection CF by clicking the one of links below of the language of Your preference:

English

Ukrainian

More data is available on the Eastern Ukraine Checkpoint Monitoring Online Dashboard on UNHCR Ukraine website.


The report contains information collected by the Right to Protection CF as part of a survey, conducted regularly since June 2017. Entry-Exit Checkpoints are located in Donetsk (Mayorske, Maryinka, Hnutove and Novotroitske) and Luhansk (Stanytsia Luhanska) regions. The survey is part of the monitoring of violations of the rights of the population affected by the conflict and is conducted within the project «Advocacy, Protection and Legal Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons of Ukraine», implemented by the Right to Protection CF with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The purpose of this survey is to find out the reasons, conditions and risks that accompany people who cross the line of contact through the EECPs. The information collected during the survey will help identify needs, gaps and trends, as well as provide an evidence base for advocacy activities.

16.12.20

To the President of Ukraine

Volodymyr Zelenskyy

 Dear Volodymyr Olexandrovych!

We, the non-governmental human rights sector organizations who work with the protection of the rights of victims of the armed conflict in Ukraine, with the fullest respect for You express our demand not to narrow the scope of the National Strategy for Human Rights.

Adopted through the Decree of the President of Ukraine in 2015, the National Strategy in the field of human rights needs to be updated. In the summer of 2020, the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine began work on developing amendments to the Strategy and drafting the Action Plan for its implementation. Representatives of the human rights NGO sector in Ukraine and international partners were involved in the work.

During October, the Directorate for Strategic Planning and European Integration of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine held a series of meetings of thematic groups to develop an Action Plan for the implementation of the National Strategy in the field of human rights for 2021-2023.

The Coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations Concerning the Protection of the Rights of Persons Affected by the Armed Conflict in Ukraine submitted proposals to the Action Plan, which includes about 90 measures for overcoming the negative consequences of the armed conflict caused by the armed aggression of the Russian Federation and to protect, ensure and exercise the rights of internally displaced persons and residents of the occupied territories, those who live near the contact line in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, persons deprived of liberty as a result of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, persons who have disappeared in unknown circumstances and members of their families.

The proposals were prepared and sent by experts from the NGO Sector Coalition and were partially taken into account. In particular, the Ministry of Justice proposes to combine the protection of internally displaced persons, residents of the temporarily occupied territories and residents of the so-called “gray zone” in one group – victims of armed aggression in Ukraine. At the same time, according to the logic of the Ministry of Justice, the categories of persons who disappeared during the conflict or who were deprived of personal liberty as a result of the armed conflict are not considered victims.

However, although the text of the draft amendments to the National Strategy for Human Rights includes some proposals submitted by NGOs, the draft Action Plan for the implementation of the National Strategy ignores these proposals.

Due to the fact that not all the measures planned for 2020 were implemented, NGO Sector proposed to update some of the measures and add new ones that would simplify access to education, administrative services, pensions, social benefits, intensify the process of land demining, introduce an evaluation mechanism of the needs of internally displaced persons and ensure the process of permanent financing of housing programs for IDPs.

Unfortunately, instead of developing high-quality and effective measures, the Ministry of Justice has chosen to focus on steps that are easier to implement and less conflicting to agree with other ministries. In particular, most of the measures proposed by the Ministry relate to the development and submission of draft regulations, although the drafting of regulations alone does not change the situation with human rights in Ukraine.

Such a plan, even if fully implemented, will not lead to the achievement of the goals set by the Strategy, which in turn will result in withdrawal of Ukraine’s movement towards a democratic state governed by the rule of law. Instead, the draft of the updated Action Plan, which focuses on regulatory activities, transforms the document into a formal and technical one, focused exclusively on quantitative indicators and does not introduce systemic changes.

We once again draw attention to the fact that the adoption of certain regulations does not necessarily lead to ensuring the realization of human rights and freedoms. Moreover, the decision to adopt them is the power of Parliament, as the National Strategy is a document that shows the intentions and specific actions of public authorities in certain areas.

We, the non-governmental human rights sector organizations who work with the protection of the rights of victims of the armed conflict in Ukraine, call to take into account the provided proposals and develop amendments to the National Strategy for Human Rights, as well as to the Action Plan for its implementation, taking into account the real needs of all categories of victims of the conflict caused by the armed aggression of the Russian Federation.

We emphasize that in the process of proposal for the Action Plan preparation we relied on our experience in the field of protection of the above mentioned persons and indicated their specific needs, that are not taken into account in the Ministry of Justice broad framework of the National Strategy.

Annex – proposals for amendments to the National Human Rights Strategy.

NGO “Civil holding “GROUP OF INFLUENCE”

KrymSOS NGO

ZMINA Human Rights Center

Right to Protection CF

Stabilization Support Services in Ukraine CF

Vostok SOS CF

Crimean Human Rights Group (CHRG)

15.12.20

Since the end of 2018, the legal team of the Right to Protection CF has won 11 cases, including 4 in the appellate instance for compensation for moral suffering caused by injuries or death of a civilian during the anti-terrorist operation.

Recently, the question of why should Ukraine pay for the death of our fellow citizens, which was actually caused by the aggression of the Russian Federation has been raised more and more often in the society.

We will try to answer it, avoiding the formal legal wording, which is set out in detail in our legal position, which was developed in early 2017, and is reflected in the growing number of court decisions made by the courts of Ukraine.

First, it should be understood that the average Ukrainian does not have the means to identify the perpetrators and prosecute them, as only state-authorized bodies can investigate crimes and prosecute the perpetrators.  There is no actual investigation into the deaths of civilians, and the victims are left alone with their grief and helplessness. And it’s not just about the deaths of people in the temporarily occupied territories, where the independent investigation is simply impossible. Thus, parents who have lost their children and orphans, who have lost their parents cannot receive compensation from criminals who have directly taken the lives of their relatives.  

It should also be borne in mind that suspects in these heinous crimes are sometimes exchanged between the governments of Ukraine and Russia, depriving victims of the right to a fair trial and receiving some compensation from those individuals.

Second, the Russian Federation is not subject to Ukrainian courts by virtue of the rules of international law and the jurisdictional immunity that follows from it. Victims cannot sue the Russian government in a Ukrainian court, and attempts to do so, which are sometimes heard on the Internet, are not just futile, but can be detrimental to victims in terms of the prospect of receiving any compensation at all.

Thirdly, in accordance with the norms of the European Convention on Human Rights and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, it is our state that must ensure the security of its citizens and the observance of human rights within its jurisdiction. 

In Ukrainian law there is a rule provided by Article 19 of the Law of Ukraine “On Combating Terrorism”, which explicitly provides that the state bears the responsibility imposed by a terrorist act, followed by recovery of compensation paid by the victim to the perpetrators.  Why does this rule exist? If we move away from the “dry” legal glossary, we can say in simple words: we all abide by the laws of Ukraine, including paying taxes, and the state, having created appropriate authorities, including law enforcement, in turn, must provide us with the security and protection of human rights. If the state fails to do so, it must pay compensation, including compensation for non-pecuniary damage to the relatives of the victims.

We hope that these court decisions will force the state to finally pay attention to such an important issue as the death of innocent people, and to introduce an administrative procedure for obtaining appropriate compensation.

In addition, these court decisions can and should be used by Ukraine when filing claims against the aggressor state in international courts. Our organization is open for cooperation with the Government of Ukraine on these issues.

If we want to live in a decent European state, we must always remember that in Ukraine there is rule of law, according to the Constitution. And the state must fulfill the obligations enshrined both in international treaties and national laws.  Selective application of laws and conventions is what autocratic and non-democratic states usually do. Do we want to become such a state?  I’m sure not.

Oleh Tarasenko,

Lawyer, Senior Strategic Lawyer of the Right to Protection CF