The National Human Rights Strategy has been adopted. Review from the R2P lawyers

On Wednesday, March 24, the National Human Rights Strategy was approved by the Decree of the President of Ukraine of March 24, 2021 № 119/2021 and entered into force on this same day.

This is a strategic document, the main purpose of which is to ensure and support the human rights and freedoms of the citizens of Ukraine. This goal should be achieved, in particular, by solving the main systemic problems through supporting and protecting human rights and freedoms in the face of new challenges. The document was approved to replace the previous Strategy, which lost its relevance together with the completion of the Action Plan at the end of last year. The goals set by the Strategy should be achieved by implementing specific steps approved by the Action Plan, which will be adopted every three years.

The human rights strategy was prepared in coordination with the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine with the involvement of the civil society sector in 2020. The participation of national and international organizations, activists, experts and scholars in the process of developing the Strategy is extremely important due to the possibility of a constructive dialogue between the Government on the one hand and the public on the other.

The new Human Rights Strategy does not bypass the problem of statelessness in Ukraine.  In particular, in the context of creating a new procedure for recognition as a stateless person of Ukraine, it sets tasks and raises appropriate expectations:

  • to ensure the possibility of realization of the right to work, healthcare and social protection to those who have applied for the recognition as stateless persons;
  • to ensure access to the mechanism of recognition as a stateless person, regardless of the fact of a person's stay in Ukraine on the legal grounds.

In order for the population of the temporarily occupied territories (TOT) to retain the citizenship of Ukraine:

  • to ensure the issuance of identity documents and proof of citizenship of persons residing in the TOT, in the manner prescribed by law at the place of application;
  • to develop and implement a single out-of-court mechanism for confirmation and state registration of civil status acts of citizens residing in the TOT.

Thus, a common understanding of the ways to solve the problem of statelessness in Ukraine and avoid the threat of statelessness for TOT residents is present in the Strategy. This is definitely a positive result of the work of the civil sector. The next step is to approve the Action Plan, which will determine the exact actions of the authorities and other actors, the use of which will lead or bring us closer to achieving these goals.

At the same time, the central executive bodies refuse to plan in the measures to identify undocumented persons, even in certain regions of the country. These measures are prescribed into the draft from the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine «On approval of the Action Plan for the implementation of the National Strategy for Human Rights for 2021-2023». The implementation of these measures was planned by the previous Action Plan for 2016 (!), But in the absence of a Stateless Determination Procedure (SDP) in Ukraine as such and were considered inappropriate at the moment.

The position of the authorities seems to be so much inconsistent that the State Migration Service of Ukraine plans to carry out explanatory work on the requirements of the legislation regarding the new Stateless Determination Procedure which will enter into the force with the Cabinet of Ministers resolution «On some issues regarding the recognition as a stateless person».

«Active actions on the part of the Government concerning documenting the stateless persons, as well as encouraging the documentation of other persons that do not have identity documents, properly informing the public about current procedures and administrative services regarding this issue should be carried out independently of plans and strategies, especially when implementing the Stateless Determination Procedure. It is impossible for Ukraine to fulfill obligations under the 1954 Convention concerning the Status of Stateless Persons if stateless persons are itself not identified within a country.»

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