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15.11.2012

Named railway tickets an unwarranted restriction of people’s freedom

   

 

The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union has initiated an open appeal against the Ministry for the Infrastructure’s plan to bring in a system where people’s (internal) passport details are given on railway tickets. As reported here, the Ministry has submitted proposed changes to railway transport, including checks on passports (internal ID documents) both when buying tickets and when boarding a train.  The new tickets with people’s names on them will, if this goes ahead, appear in January.

The appeal is addressed to the Prime Minister M. Azarov and Minister for Infrastructure B. Kolesnikov.  The signatories say that they cannot agree with the Ministry’s claim that the measure is needed to fight ticket touting for a number of reasons.

“The introduction of total monitoring of citizens’ movements is typical of a police state and not of democratic countries which respect and observe human rights.

There is no effective protection of personal data at present in Ukraine. In view of this and the recently voted in Law on a Unified State Demographic Register, one can conclude that the introduction of tickets with names on them gives the authorities scope for abuse. The possibility is effectively created for monitoring the movements of any individual and this can be used for surveillance both of members of the political opposition, and of civic activists.

In present conditions the introduction of named railway tickets will violate the right to privacy guaranteed by Ukraine’s Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

This change also seriously restricts freedom of movement. A person who has, for example, lost his documents cannot use trains. Legislation clearly stipulates that freedom of movement cannot be restricted due to the lack of this or that document.

It is important to note that as well as infringing human rights, the change will also make everyday life more difficult. People will need to have their passports with them all the time, they won’t be able to buy a ticket or board a train without a document since the conductors will check that the person matches the name on the ticket. This will especially complicate organization of group trips or trips with foreign nationals since it will be impossible to buy tickets in advance.

There will be any number of inconveniences over names incorrectly written on the tickets. The change will make the queues for tickets longer with the amount of time needed for each sale being increased.

Previous experience with such named tickets showed that the change will in no way affect ticket touts who were able to successfully ignore such rules up till 2007 when they were abolished. They would write out your details and bring you the tickets needed within 10 minutes. Therefore the practice must not be fought by restricting passengers’ possibilities , but through organizing measures against organized criminal networks.

The attitude of the Ministry for the Infrastructure to all passengers as potential lawbreakers is insulting and indicates that the Ministry is basing its work on disrespect and infringements of basic human rights.

We the undersigned organizations representing the interests of Ukrainian citizens are emphatically opposed to the Infrastructure Ministry’s plan to introduce names on railway tickets.

The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union and others

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