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13.04.2010

The introduction of named rail tickets is an unwarranted restriction of freedom

   

To        the Prime Minister, Mykola Azarov

            the Minister of Internal Affairs, Anatoly Mohylev

 

The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union has initiated an appeal by civic organizations against plans to reintroduce named railway tickets.

The undersigned civic organizations are against the introduction of named railway tickets.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs [MIA] has recently announced its intention to again have passport details added to railway tickets. The police claim that this is needed to fight crime.

We cannot agree with their arguments for the following reasons:

Imposing total monitoring of the movement of citizens is more typical of police states, not of democratic states which respect and observe human rights.

In Ukraine there is no personal data protection. There is neither the relevant legislation, nor appropriate administrative practice. In such conditions it is dangerous for information about all movement of a person by railway to be gathered on one database. This, for example, can be used for monitoring the political opposition.

Therefore in the present circumstances introduction of named rail tickets will be a violation of the right to privacy guaranteed by the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Furthermore, there are violations of the right to freedom of movement. A person whose documents are lost cannot use the railway. If for example, on a business trip, your passport is stolen, you won’t be able to return home. Legislation clearly states that freedom of movement may not be restricted due to the lack of one or other document.

We also doubt the effectiveness of such a measure in fighting crime It is clear that organized crime and terrorist organizations which the MIA use to frighten us are sufficiently well-armed to use fake ID, and the planned change will thus in no way influence their criminal activities.

Besides infringing their rights, these changes seriously complicate people’s everyday life. You need to always have your (internal) passport with you and you can’t buy a ticket or get on a train since conductors check that the ticket holder is the actual person. These complications are particularly experienced in organizing group trips or trips of foreign nationals since it becomes impossible to buy tickets in advance. There could also be a huge number of inconveniences through a last name being spelt incorrectly on the ticket.

It is furthermore clear that the change will increase the queues at ticket desks with it taken twice as long to buy a ticket because the data needs to be input.

It is also clear that this will in no way hamper the ticket touts who were able to get around the rules up till 2007 when such named tickets were cancelled. They simply wrote down your details and in 10 minutes brought you the necessary ticket. The description of the activity of touts is not confirmed by facts, for example, by the number of crimes uncovered.

Police treatment of all passengers as though they are potential criminals is insulting and yet again demonstrates that the police’s activities are not based on respect for fundamental human rights.

The organizations below are categorically against this new initiative of the MIA regarding the compulsory inputting of passport details on train tickets.

The undersigned organizations, representing the interests of Ukrainian citizens, are totally against the MIA’s new initiative on the mandatory recording of passport details on railway tickets.

 

At present the appeal has been signed by the following groups, however this should increase considerably before it is sent on 19 April

Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Kharkiv Human Rights Group

International Women’s Human Rights Centre “La Strada – Ukraine”

Legal Research and Strategy Institute (Kharkiv)

The Human Rights Organization “Justice”

The Without Borders Project of the Social Action Centre (Kyiv)

The Public Committee for the Protection of Constitutional Rights and Civil Liberties Luhansk

The Kherson City Association of Journalists “Pivden’” (“South”)

The Kherson Regional Charity and Health Fund

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