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.
DATE: May 14, 2021
ZMINA Human Rights Center
NGO “Public Holding “Group of Influence”
Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P)
Charity Foundation Stabilization Support Services
Crimean Human Rights Group (CHRG)
- Appeal of non-governmental organizations to the President of Ukraine regarding the policy of the transitional period
- APPEAL OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS ON THE ISSUE OF SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION IN FUNDING FOR HOUSING PROGRAMS FOR INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS IN 2021
- NGOs and Charitable Organizations Open Appeal to the President of Ukraine on the issue of the scope of the National Strategy in the field of Human Rights
- Appeal by the Civil Society Organizations for funding the access to education for children from Temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine in 2021