Ukrainian Council of Churches calls for real safeguards of peaceful assembly


The Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations has sent a letter proposing amendments to the draft law on peaceful assemble, No. 2450.  The letter, addressed to the Head of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and Inter-Ethnic Relations, stresses that the right to peaceful assembly is a vital part of ensuring freedom of conscience and religion. It points out that present provisions of Article 21 § 5 of the Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations is in contravention of Article 39 of the Constitution and discriminates against believers and religious organizations. The article in question imposes a permission-based system of informing, 10 days in advance, of a planned religious gathering.

“These provisions are entirely at odds with draft law No. 2450 which is directly aimed at regulating the rules and procedure for organizing peaceful assembly. We therefore consider that Article 21 § 5 of the Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations should be replaced by a blanket norm referring to the law on peaceful assembly”.

The letter also states the need to rework the present draft law on peaceful assembly. “In view of the publicity which Draft Law No. 2450 has elicited, we support the call from civic society to refine the draft law with respect to properly safeguarding the exercising of the human right to freedom of peaceful assembly.”

Both in July 2009 and in May this year the Institute for Religious Freedom sent proposals to the above-mentioned Verkhovna Rada Committee in which it stressed the need for a unified legislative approach to the issue of regulating procedure for holding peaceful gatherings. In view of numerous violations of the rights of believers, IRS also drew up legal consultation on the rules and procedure for holding public peaceful events of a religious nature which is designed to help people apply contradictory provisions in current legislation.

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