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30.10.2012

Call to veto law restricting freedom of worship

   

from NGOs, community leaders and scholars to the President of Ukraine V. Yanukovych on the need to veto the draft law № 10221 to prevent restriction of freedom of religion in Ukraine

Dear Mr. President!

We, representatives of human rights and other public organizations, express our concern over the adoption by Parliament on October, 16 2012 the law intended to make significant changes to the Law of Ukraine "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations" (draft law № 10221), which in the case of coming into force creates considerable obstacles in implementing the constitutional right of citizens to freedom of religion.

The declared objective of the Law is a necessity to adjust legislation with the Constitution of Ukraine in paragraph of redistribution powers between the President of Ukraine and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in connection with the administrative reform.

Meanwhile adopted Law introduced significant changes to the Law of Ukraine "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations" on which the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations expressed their objections. During May-July 2012 there was a series of consultative meetings with the author of the draft law Y. Miroshnychenko, the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Culture, Ukrainian Council of Churches and experts. As a result there were approved significant changes to the text of the draft law. However, during the second reading draft law № 10221 was hastily voted without any discussion and without table amendments for the second reading from the Committee.

In our opinion, the above mentioned Law (draft law № 10221), adopted on October 16, 2012, should be put upon veto and returned for revision to the Parliament of Ukraine in consideration of the following basic precautions:

1. Approved amendments to the Law of Ukraine "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations" considerably complicate the procedure for obtaining by religious organizations the status of the legal entity (Article 13, 14) in connection with the introduction of two inconsistent registration procedures: registration of statutes and state registration (inclusion in the Unified Register of Legal Entities). This approach doesn’t comply with the objectives of administrative reform aimed at introduction of the "single-window" principle to provide administrative services, reduce corruption factors and bureaucratic obstacles in the activities of non-governmental institutions.

2. Adopted Law establishes discriminatory provisions in the Law of Ukraine "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations" on the order of organization of peaceful assemblies initiated by believers or religious organizations (Part 5, Article 21), which puts them at a disadvantage with other legal entities in the right to peaceful assembly guaranteed by Article 39 of the Constitution of Ukraine. In particular, there is a permission-order organization of peaceful assembly, including the requirement to obtain permits at least in 10 days before the desired date of the meeting.

3. The draft law № 10221, like in the days of the Soviet totalitarian past, provides for the right to monitor the implementation of legislation on freedom of conscience and religion to the public prosecution bodies, the Ministry of Culture and other ministries and local authorities (Article 29 of the Law on Freedom of Conscience). At present, the authority of state control in this area is within the competence of local councils and their executive committees. We believe that expanding the list of regulatory bodies will not contribute to guaranteeing the right to freedom of religion, because it is the authorities often are violators of the law in this area.

These and other remarks lead to the need for a substantial revision of the Law before its entry into force.

In this regard, we urge you to veto the Law "On amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine (on the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Culture and other central executive bodies whose activities are directed and coordinated by the relevant ministers and State Space Agency)" adopted on October 16, 2012 (draft law № 10221), and return it for revision to the Parliament of Ukraine considering expert opinions and proposals of the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations.

Sincerely,

1. Yevhen Zakharov – Head of the board of "The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union" (NGO), Co-chairman of the "Kharkiv Human Rights Group" NGO;

2. Arkadiy Bushchenko – Executive Director of "The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union" NGO;

3. Anatoly Kolodny – President of the Ukrainian Association of Religious Studies, Professor, Honored Scientist of Ukraine;

4. Myroslav Marynovych – President of the Institute of Religion and Society of the Ukrainian Catholic University;

5. Maksym Vasin – Executive Director of the Institute for Religious Freedom NGO;

6. Mykhaylo Kamenev – Deputy Chairman of "Foundation of Regional Initiatives" (All-Ukrainian youth NGO);

7. Tatiana Bordunis – President of "All-Ukrainian Human Rights Movement «Dignity»" NGO;

8. Oleksiy Honcharuk – Representative of the "Association of the affected investors" NGO;

9. Andriy Rohanskiy – Representative of the "Institute for Legal Research and Strategies" NGO;

10. Oleksandra Matviychuk – Head of the board of "Center for Civil Liberties" NGO;

11. Lyudmyla Kovalchuk – Representative of the Center "La Strada – Ukraine";

12. Liydmyla Fylypovych – Executive Director of the Center for Religious Information and Freedom, Ph.D., Professor;

13. Liydmyla Koval – Expert on human rights of Kharkiv Human Rights Group NGO;

14. Lyudmyla Kovalchuk – Representative of "La Strada-Ukraine" Center;

15. Taras Antoshevskiy – Director of the Religious Information Service of Ukraine;

16. Oleg Huculak – Representative of the Center for East and West "Meso Eurasia";

17. Olga Dobrodum – Associate Professor of journalism in Odessa I.I. Mechnikov national university;

18. Lilia Kompaniets – Associate Professor of cultural theory and philosophy of science of philosophy faculty in V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University;

19. Igor Kozlovskiy – president of the Center for Religious Studies and International Spiritual Relations, Chairman of Donetsk regional branch of the Ukrainian Association of Religious scholars;

20. Oksana Gorkusha – Researcher of the Institute of Religious Studies Department of Institute of Philosophy in the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine;

21. Vyacheslav Artyukh – Associate Professor of Philosophy in Sumy State University;

22. Sergiy Sannikov – President of the Euro-Asian Accreditation Association;

23.Maksym Balaklytskiy – Associate Professor of journalism in V.N.Karazin Kharkiv National University.

October 30, 2012

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