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.
Category: Stateless persons
The story began in May 2021. At first, this case seemed so complicated that it could be simply impossible to provide the necessary assistance.
However, we made an effort and were able to succeed and help this little family to cope with all the difficulties!
One day Natalia, a 27 years old pregnant woman applied to the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection (R2P) for help. She was in difficult life circumstances since she had no identity documents.
Natalia is an orphan with a disability. Her parents died when she was a little baby. Aunt took her and her sister under guardianship. All of them lived together in one of the settlements near the town of Volnovakha, Donetsk oblast, Ukraine.
According to the woman, the aunt often insulted her. One day, Natalia’s patience ran out: she collected all of her documents and left the house. For several days she spent nights at bus stops where her documents were stolen. The girl was sheltered by a local resident of Volnovakha, who lived alone with his mother.
The pregnant woman was not registered at the women’s clinic. Natalia understood that the term was already very long and she would give birth soon, but due to the lack of documents, she would not be able to register her baby and get the necessary social assistance.
Being worried about the fate of her unborn child, the woman began to look for all possible ways to restore the documents. One day, Natalia turned for help to the R2P.
In May, Natalia gave birth to a daughter. Our colleagues helped her recover the stolen documents. On her birthday, she received a new passport, and a few days later – a duplicate of the taxpayer’s card (TIN).
Without wasting time, a daughter’s birth certificate was issued at the Volnovakha District Department of the State Civil Registry Office.
The Administrative Service Centre of the Volnovakha District State Administration provided state assistance for the birth of a child, aid to a single mother, families with children, and received a newborn starter kit.
Accounts were also opened at the bank to receive state monetary aid. From the Center for Social Services, the mother and baby received diapers and a baby blanket, hygiene products, bed linen, clothes for mother and child, food.
Social workers helped the mother and child to sign a contract with the family doctor. Now the child is under the supervision of a pediatrician.
During a visit to the family, it was also discovered that an elderly woman living in the house with Natalia had a serious illness and needed treatment. Employees of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) urgently transported the woman to the hospital where she was immediately admitted to the surgical department. Currently, the woman is feeling better and receives qualified medical care.
We are so glad that we were able to help this family. We wish Natalia and her daughter to never get into such a difficult life situation again!
R2P expresses its sincere gratitude for the cooperation in solving the problems of this family to the staff of the Volnovakha District Department of the State Migration Service of Ukraine, the Volnovakha Administrative Services Centre, the Volnovakha State Civil Registry Office, and the Center for Social Services.
Ostap was born in the Luhansk region of Ukraine in 1986. As a child, he moved with his family to the city of Debaltseve in the Donetsk region. There he grew up, studied, and met his future wife. Due to family circumstances, he was able to apply for a passport of a citizen of Ukraine only in 2014. At the moment the document was ready and the only thing needed was to receive it, the war began.
The man and his family fled in hurry and left almost everything they had in the Donetsk region – property, money, some of the documents. He and his wife later moved to the Ternopil region. In 2017, their son was born. Due to the lack of documents, Ostap was not able to officially become a husband and prove paternity. Lack of documents made it almost impossible for him to earn money for the family.
All this time Ostap tried to get a passport of a citizen of Ukraine. After numerous refusals, in 2020 he applied to the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P). Since then, there have been endless calls, trips to the State Migration Service (SMS), appeals, applications, and, unfortunately, complaints.
In February 2021, the Migration Service finally agreed to identify our beneficiary. However, citizenship remained unrecognized. In May 2021, after two days of negotiations with the State Migration Service, documents to apply for the Stateless Determination Procedure (SDP).
Despite three official and dozens of unofficial refusals to issue a passport of a citizen of Ukraine, when applying for an SDP, Migration Service representatives insisted that these actions do not make sense, because the person is a citizen of Ukraine.
We will learn about the SMS decision later. In the meantime, regardless of the results of the examination, Ostap will now finally be able to obtain an identity document and open the door to a new life.
Svitlana was born in Russia in 1991 during the collapse of the Soviet Union. The events of that time had a long impact on her life. When she was 2 years old, her mother transported her to Ukraine and left her alone. Another woman took care of Svitlana and in fact became her grandmother. Unfortunately, she failed to officially certify guardianship. This was one of the reasons for the beginning of troubles in which Svitlana got into at the age of 16.
Svitlana was denied a Ukrainian passport. For almost 15 years, the girl fought for her right to be a part of this world, for the right to have an education, to be able to work, become a wife, a mother. During this time, she repeatedly applied to the Migration Service to obtain Ukrainian citizenship. Instead, she only received oral and written refusals, requests to wait, come later, numerous excuses or responses that they are not competent in this issue.
During all these years, Svitlana got unofficially married and gave birth to 2 wonderful children. Due to her lack of documents, she and her husband were forced to prove paternity in court.
In 2020, Svitlana turned to the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) for help. The woman and our lawyer were waiting for several months of appeals, complaints, and constant negotiations. Yet, in the spring of 2021, Svitlana was able to apply for stateless status after the introduction of the Stateless Determination Procedure (SDP) in Ukraine.
Still, this is only the beginning – explanations, challenges, and inquiries are ahead. However, this is a big step towards a bright future for a kind woman and her family. A future where the country that became a home for Svitlana will finally notice her, as well as other stateless people.
On June 30, the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) held a press conference “Final results of the implementation of the procedure for recognition as a stateless person.”
During the event, participants discussed the implementation of the newly established stateless determination procedure (SDP), the experience and practice of the R2P lawyers in providing free legal aid to the stateless persons, problems of such persons who were living in Ukraine without any valid documents for all this time, and the ways to solve existing problems with this new procedure.
The event was organized with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“UNHCR is very proud to be part of this team that has together worked on where we are at today, namely – the Stateless Determination Procedure in place in Ukraine. This all is a result of joint teamwork, where all sides contributed to the cause of establishing SDP. We are so proud of this effort which has made Ukraine the 21-st country in the world and the 15-th country in Europe to establish a dedicated Stateless Determination Procedure”
– says Carolina Lindholm Billing, the UNHCR Representative in Ukraine.
Ms. Carolina Lindholm Billing praised Ukraine’s active work to improve the naturalization of stateless persons. She stressed that Bill 5630, together with the procedure, is one of the outstanding steps taken by our state to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG Goal 16.9: By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration) and the UNHCR Global Action Plan to End Statelessness by 2024 (Action 6: Grant protection status to stateless migrants and facilitate their naturalization).
“UNHCR has assisted and will assist the State Migration Service and other government agencies in providing the practical experience of other countries in overcoming statelessness. Now we are proud to say that Ukraine has become one of the positive examples for other countries. And now we share the experience of Ukraine with offices in other countries and highlight it as one of the good examples. We hope that the procedure will be available throughout the country as soon as possible to ensure the ability to access and apply for it, regardless of the place of residence of a person. This is a very good, powerful start to eliminating the issue of statelessness by 2024.”
– said Carolina Lindholm Billing.
According to Nadiya Kovalchuk, Deputy President of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P), it is very important that all those involved in the introduction of the Statelessness Determination Procedure in Ukraine managed to gather on one platform:
“It is valuable for our Fund as a representative of the civil society that the State Migration Service, UNHCR, and the Human Rights Committee were involved in this process. Together, we have succeeded in introducing this long-waited procedure, which can put an end to the suffering and problems of certain categories of people living in Ukraine. We have been systematically addressing the problems of stateless persons, refugees, and IDPs for 8 years already.
R2P actively supported the need to establish a procedure after the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons was ratified in 2013 in Ukraine. Our experts also provided a significant contribution and took part in the legislation development process. We understand that the standards and the procedure are tested in practice, but we are convinced that together withing the coalition of partners we will be able to fully implement SDP.
According to the State Migration Service of Ukraine (SMSU), the first application for recognition as a stateless person was made in early May 2021. To date, almost 200 such applications have been accepted, which are subject to statutory inspections.
Natalia Naumenko, First Deputy Head of the SMS of Ukraine, said that the way to resolve the issue of statelessness was not easy:
“We had a lot of discussions because the world practice is ambiguous and there are not so many examples. Everything we have today in working with stateless persons is the result of the titanic work of representatives of the legislative and executive branches of government of Ukraine. Recently, for the first time in Ukraine, a stateless identity card was issued for travel abroad with a contactless electronic medium. Thus, stateless persons in Ukraine receive a completely protected world-class document and can safely cross the border in any direction.”
Ms. Naumenko expresses the hope that now the State Migration Service and partners will be able to help as many people as possible to learn about the Stateless Determination Procedure:
“Our task is to inform stateless persons about the new possibility to obtain valid documents that will give them both the rights and the responsibilities. The start is set. Through joint efforts, we will be able to achieve the goal of the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.”
Dmytro Lubinets, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Human Rights, Deoccupation and Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories in Donetsk, Luhansk Oblasts and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the City of Sevastopol, National Minorities and International Relations, stressed the urgency of the problem of statelessness:
“When I became the Chairman of the Human Rights Committee in 2019, I realized how urgent the problem of statelessness is in Ukraine. Together with colleagues, we developed Bill 2335, on which we worked jointly with UNHCR, who know the experience of other countries, and with the State Migration Service, whose work this law directly concerns.
The bill was registered and voted on June 16, 2020. We have created a Procedure that provides stateless persons with the ability to obtain an identity document and confirm the legality of stay on the territory of Ukraine. In addition, any person could obtain a temporary residence permit and a certificate of a stateless person. And the most important thing for us is that after receiving these documents and provided that a person lives on the territory of Ukraine, in 2 years an immigration permit and a permanent residence permit will be issued. “
“Stateless persons in Ukraine are the people who in most cases live without any valid identity documents and/or citizenship of any state, and have never received such documents,”
– explains Sofia Kordonets, Manager of the R2P Project “Legal assistance to stateless persons in Ukraine”.
During the implementation of this project, the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) provided assistance to more than 1,200 people, 305 of whom have already confirmed their citizenship, and 415 people have received the birth certificates (84 of them – for the first time).
“Out of the 700 beneficiaries of the R2P, 202 were identified as eligible for SDP. Almost half of them were born in Ukraine, but due to various circumstances they are not citizens of Ukraine, about a quarter are born in Russia, others are from the countries of the former Soviet Union, but due to migration, different laws and practices, they are not citizens of the countries they originate from or where they lived for a long time.”
– adds the R2P Legal Analyst Kseniia Karahiaur.
In more than a month since the first application, with the help of the lawyers of the R2P Project “Legal assistance to stateless persons in Ukraine”, beneficiaries have submitted 23 applications.
Recording of the Press Conference is available (in Ukrainian):
Oleh Tsoi was born in 1955 in Uzbekistan. There he received a passport of a citizen of the former USSR. For his whole life the man worked in the “House of Communications” – he laid telephone cables and communications.
After moving to Ukraine in 1991, Oleh Moiseyovych’s life changed. The Soviet Union collapsed, all the former republics became independent states, and a man could not exchange an old passport for a new one in Ukraine. There were different reasons for this. Then the situation got even more complicated by the fact that over time, the passport of a citizen of the former Soviet Union was lost. Now the man had no documents at all. Oleh Moiseyovych could no longer go to Uzbekistan because the identity documents were necessary to cross the border.
It took almost three decades to try in vain to obtain Ukrainian citizenship and a passport.
After Oleh Moiseyovych’s appeal to the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) and the UNHCR, specialists of our organization sent multiple inquiries to Uzbekistan and received the necessary documents. Missing references were also collected. Due to changes in Ukrainian legislation in 2021, the man was able to apply to the migration service for recognition as a stateless person.
Now Oleh Moiseyovych hopes that the state of Ukraine will recognize his right to exist and issue him a temporary residence permit so that he could no longer be a ghost in the society!
Indira is the mother of many children. The woman turned for help to R2P in 2018. Her eldest son Roman did not have a birth certificate. Indira became pregnant at a young age and gave birth to children at home. Back in 2005 when the woman gave birth to Roman, she did not know how to get a birth certificate, as well as in 2018, when she gave birth to another child.
Our lawyer made several inquiries, after which a statement was prepared to the court to establish the fact of the child’s birth. However, the court refused to open the case, believing that Indira had other ways to obtain a son’s birth certificate. The Kharkiv Court of Appeals generally recommended forcing civil registry offices to register the birth of 13-year-old Roma, ignoring the current legislation on the required list of documents.
In 2020, the Supreme Court of Ukraine, in its ruling, ordered the Ordzhonikidze District Court to open a case and consider an application to establish the fact of Roman’s birth. At the request of our lawyer, a costly genetic examination was ordered, the funds for which were allocated by the R2P. DNA testing proved the fact that Roman was Indira’s son.
But the joy of our lawyer was suddenly overshadowed – the telephone connection with Indira was lost, none of the available telephone numbers were serviced. The lawyer only knew that Indira and her children had recently moved to Kryvyi Rih… The real search began then.
On the verge of despair, the lawyer turned to the contact center of the city of Kryvyi Rih – and it worked! The next day, Natalia Ryabushenko, the head of the Executive Committee of the Department of Social Guarantees and Payments (Department of Labour and Social Protection of the Ternivka District Council), called and volunteered to help.
She not only provided the information available to her but also searched through the other areas in the city and then called us back and told our lawyer the address at which Indira was registered. Later, Olena Pazenko, a monitor of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P), joined the cause to help Roman. It was she who completed the creation of a miracle for the boy. As a result, Roman finally got the long-awaited document – legal proof of his existence.
Now Roman is waiting for a visit to the State Migration Service of Ukraine to obtain a passport of a citizen of Ukraine.
The only thing to add to this story is that it is very difficult to provide full legal assistance at a distance, given the vulnerability and insecurity of our beneficiaries… But the sensitivity and humanity cover miles, creating real miracles and giving faith in a better future! Many thanks to the colleagues and everyone who helped.
«Sometimes, it seems that a little can surprise me at work, yet some impossible scenarios may arise from time to time. When I speak with our beneficiaries I just don’t understand how they manage to endure and overcome the obstacles that were artificially created by the state.»
– says Ruslan Bereteli, a lawyer of the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P).
The story of our cooperation with Mariabegan in the winter of 2020, when a woman came to the Kurakhiv office of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) with a request for help. For almost an hour, she, a native of Donetsk city, told how she studied and worked in her hometown, how she got married and gave birth to two daughters. At first, it seemed like a usual life of an ordinary person. Yet there was one moment: for all this time she did not exist legally – in her 31st year, she did not have a passport or any other relevant identity documents. She couldn’t receive birth certificates for her children, couldn’t get an official job, or buy train/plane tickets.
«First of all, we had to confirm the fact that Maria lived on the territory of Ukraine as of 1991. According to my own legal experience at R2P, I have never seen such a motivated client before. Each instruction regarding the collection of evidence was carried out almost instantly: a relative of our client in Donetsk searched for evidence in the school where our beneficiary studied, and in the hospital, where she was registered since childhood. We also were able to receive certificates from the company where Maria’s mother worked. She managed to find the student’s personal file, medical card, certificates, and much more.»
– says Ruslan Bereteli.
The evidence of Maria’s residence in Ukraine as of 1991 was indisputable, and therefore the woman had the right to be recognized as a citizen of Ukraine. However, in court, despite the obvious evidence, a representative of the State Migration Service (SMS) opposed establishing this fact. Leonid Serafimovych, a lawyer of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P), argued and insisted on the beneficiary’s position, and the court supported our side.
For several months, the Migration Service did not comply with the court’s decision: Maria was not provided with the application form, demanded to provide some non-existing evidence, offered to wait for the head of the service, and so on. The difficult issue of legal support to the State Migration Service of Ukraine department could not be resolved, because once again it was advised to “wait for the SMS head”…
So our lawyers did. CF “Right to Protection” turned directly to the head of the State Migration Service of Ukraine. The case was immediately taken under control, and the documents were accepted. Within three months, Maria received a certificate of belonging to Ukrainian citizenship and later – a passport.
Until now, the woman had to use copies of recently received birth certificates. Now she was able to pick up the originals. Maria also reissued her lost registration number of the taxpayer’s account card. There is a lot of work behind, yet no less ahead – now a woman will have to deal with making a comfortable life for herself and her children: get an official job, apply for social benefits, and more. But, as Maria says:«The passport opens all doors. A truly universal key»
The State Migration Service of Ukraine (SMSU) advised Halyna Mykhailivna to turn CF “Right to Protection” (R2P). SMSU staff began assisting the woman in obtaining a passport when they discovered a strange fact – the record of a woman’s birth was missing from the State Register of Civil Status.
It is known that Halyna Mykhailivna was born in 1956 in the city of Kupyansk, Ukrainian SSR. The woman received a birth certificate, on the basis of which she graduated from school and entered the institute. On her 16th birthday, she received a passport of a citizen of the USSR. In 1983, the woman officially married, which was recorded in the State Register of Civil Status.
When all of Halyna Mykhailivna’s documents were lost, it became necessary to obtain a birth certificate again. It is necessary to issue a passport of a citizen of Ukraine in the form of an ID card.
Halyna Mykhailivna turned to the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P) for help. Our lawyer had a detailed interview with the woman and made a number of inquiries, but in the end, there was a sad confirmation that there was no data about the woman’s birth at all. Neither an act entry in the State Register of Civil Status Acts nor information in the Birth Registration Books – like if Halyna Mykhailivna never existed.
On the basis of previously collected evidence, the lawyer of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) filed a lawsuit in the interests of Halyna Mykhailivna. And only a court decision was able to establish the birth of a woman.
Thanks to the fast and coordinated work of the Kholodnohirsky department of the State Registrar of the Acts of Civil Status, the woman was holding a birth certificate the next day. This was the first and most important step on the way to the dream passport. No wonder ancient wisdom teaches: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
We thank the employees of the Kholodnohirsky District Department of State Registration of Civil Status Acts of the Eastern Interregional Department of Justice of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine (in Kharkiv) for their high professionalism and humanity in providing assistance!
Our colleagues continue to work on the registration of the passport for Halyna Mykhailivna. We will inform you of the progress in it in the near future!
Fakhridin was born in 1993 in Tajikistan. At the age of 15, he moved to Ukraine together with his mother. His first place of residence was the village of Pikuzy (old name – Kominternove, Novoazovsk district, currently a Non-Government Controlled Area of Ukraine).
There he received education and successfully completed nine classes. Later he lived and studied in Volnovakha and Mariupol, where in 2013 he graduated from the Mariupol Vocational Lyceum of Motor Transport and received a truck crane driver certificate.
In Mariupol, Fakhridin started a family, and later two children were born – a boy and a girl. All this time, for almost 15 years, he tried to get an identity document in Ukraine to have the right to work legally and become a full member of society.
However, due to the gaps in the legislation, it was not possible. No matter how much he tried to apply to the Migration Service, he always received denials and threats to be forcibly deported…
Our colleagues have taken all the necessary legal actions to help. A lawsuit was initiated and the fact of Fakhridin’s family relationship with his sister, who lives in Mariupol and has the status of a citizen of Ukraine, was established.
This year, thanks to changes in legislation and court decisions, it has become possible to apply to the State Migration Service of Ukraine for recognition as a stateless person.
In addition, Fakhridin became the first applicant for a Stateless Determination Procedure in the Donetsk region. Now he believes and hopes that Ukraine will take his side and recognize his right to exist, so he will be able to work legally, sign a declaration with a doctor and never again be afraid of forced deportation!