Civic organization law and its critics


  Maxim Latsyba from the Ukrainian Centre for Independent Political Research writes that while the present regime cannot boast on any progress in developing democracy in Ukraine, certain laws passed can be viewed as steps forward.

One is the Law on Civic Organizations which came into force on 1 January 2013. 

The author explains that the main idea of this bill was to make registration and the activities of civic organizations accessible and easy.  He says that up to 50% of groups may have avoided created civic organizations because of the complicated registration procedure or because of a first rejection to their application for registration.  The sheer number of documents required, the time needed, the bribes, rejections and comments which needed to be taken into account were simply too off-putting.

Under the new law, 5 documents need to be submitted for registration which should take only 7 days as opposed to a month under the old law.

Other important changes

Civic organizations should no longer face checks of their activities by the authorities. In the past Justice Ministry bodies could turn up at any moment to check whether everything was in accordance with their papers of association, etc.

NGOs can earn money, by selling books, charging for their recommendations etc, with the money being used for further printing.

Latsyba stresses that these and other progressive norms are based on Council of Europe resolutions and recommendations.

There are always voices against, he notes, saying that just days before the law was to come into force there was a strong campaign in the media to discredit the bill. He asserts that members of various NGOs made use of journalists’ and public inadequate familiarity with the bill to spread wrong information.

The author cites some examples of simply incorrect information circulated about the new law.  He mentions also that one criticism is that the law makes it possible to fairly simply create an organization with national status and does not envisage the possibility of creating branches and offices of the organization with legal entity status. Critics believe that this will lead to dictatorship in NGOs and the appearance of organizations which exist only on paper. The author writes that the law has indeed cancelled the obligation to register 14 separate legal entities in order to create a nationwide organization, while allowing any NGO to carry out its activities anywhere in Ukraine.  “This is a major improvement for civil society, yet nonetheless it’s been seen by some organizations as a demonstration of dictatorship”.

From an article posted on Ukrainska Pravda

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