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.
The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (Parliament of Ukraine) adopted the Law “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine Concerning Recognition as a Stateless Person” on June 16, 2020. In July of the same year, it came into force. Later, in March 2021, Resolution № 317 of the Cabinet of Ministers defined the documents and mechanisms necessary for the implementation of the procedure.
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):
Пресконференція «Перші результати впровадження процедури визнання особою без громадянства»
Пресконференція «Перші результати впровадження процедури визнання особою без громадянства»Posted by Право на захист on Wednesday, June 30, 2021