We, the Right to Protection CF and Human Rights League avail themselves of this opportunity to express assurances of our highest consideration and esteem.
The Right to Protection CF is a Ukrainian non-governmental organization whose activities are aimed at ensuring the protection and observance of human rights including of internally displaced persons, stateless persons and refugees as well as of conflict affected population since 2014.
The Human Rights League is a Slovak non-governmental organization established in 2005 by lawyers and attorneys dedicated to providing legal assistance to foreigners and refugees in Slovakia. Our aspiration is to support building of transparent and responsible immigration, asylum and integration policies respecting human rights and dignity. Our initiatives aim to support self-empowerment of foreigners and refugees.
Based on the named activities, we draw your attention to the following.
On 24 February, 2022, Russian armed forces launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine at multiple locations. The same day martial law was imposed in Ukraine by the President of Ukraine. As a result of this unprecedented atrocity of the Russian Federation, according to OCHA data as of May 25, 2022 almost 450 thousand people fled Ukraine to Slovakia.
Due to this situation on March 4, 2022 the European Council issued the Implementing decision (EU) 2022/382 establishing the existence of a mass influx of displaced persons from Ukraine within the meaning of Article 5 of Directive 2001/55/EC, and having the effect of introducing temporary protection. Since military hostilities have not been ended, it is possible to presume based on data of the humanitarian organizations that even more Ukrainians will flee Ukraine seeking temporary protection in Slovakia.
The Right to Protection’ lawyers assist in restoring identity documents of conflict affected population that were lost, stolen or destroyed during hostilities or evacuation. The process of identification and restoration is alleviated by the fact that starting on August 23, 2021 Ukrainian digital ID-cards and international passports are equated with their physical analogues in Ukraine. Meaning that on the territory of Ukraine named digital documents are treated as an equivalent of paper ones.
Moreover, in 2021, the European Commission issued Implementing Decision (EU) 2021/1380 of 19 August 2021 establishing the equivalence, for the purpose of facilitating the right of free movement within the Union, of COVID-19 certificates issued by Ukraine to the certificates issued in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2021/953 of the European Parliament and of the Council. According to Article 1 of the Decision COVID-19 vaccination, test and recovery certificates issued by Ukraine in accordance with the ‘Single State portal of electronic services’ (Diia portal and mobile application) system shall, for the purpose of facilitating the right of free movement within the Union, be treated as equivalent to those issued in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2021/953.
Also, as of today, Polish and Moldavian state border services accept digital identity documents in application Diia to confirm Ukrainian nationality given that Diia is used widely by Ukrainians.
Apart from the named documents, only E-documents (a temporary digital document, which could be used for certifying identity of a person who lost documents during the martial law) are translated into English. Yet, there are other digital documents available in the application Diia that may grant additional rights or benefits to Ukrainians abroad.
Since the outbreak of the invasion, Human Right League’ lawyers have been providing legal aid for Ukrainians seeking protection in Slovakia. While doing our work we have encountered high numbers of cases when in the view of military hostilities effect, people do not have any paper documents, so as a result it takes more time them to get state provided services as well as other benefits. For example, at least identification documents which prove citizenship or permanent residence are needed to grant temporary protection immediately person applies for it. Also, frequently faced situations are when parents do not have paper birth certificate of their child, but at the same time its digital analogue is available in the Diia application.
Hence, if digital documents are considered in Slovakia as a sufficient proof of the legal facts, it will be significantly easier for people from Ukraine to obtain benefits and services they are entitled to.
Considering the above mentioned, we call on the Ukrainian authorities to provide translation into English of all documents in the application Diia for confirming certain legal facts and ensuring rights of Ukrainians abroad.
We also call on the Slovakian authorities to consider all digital documents in the application Diia as an equivalent of the paper documents and grant Ukrainians eligible rights and benefits based on such documents.