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UABA: Statement regarding the Principles of Language Policy Act


The Ukrainian American Bar Association calls on the President and Speaker of Parliament to not sign the “language law” which “grossly contradicts the Ukrainian Constitution and undermines the constitutional order of Ukraine”

It has come to the attention of the Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA) that on July 3, 2012, the Ukrainian Parliament purportedly adopted the law "On The Principles of Language Policy" which grossly contradicts the Ukrainian Constitution and undermines the constitutional order of Ukraine. 
The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, in reviewing this legislation in comparison to European constitutional standards, stated that it fails to provide a proper balance between development and use of a state language as a unifying factor in society and the development and protection of minority languages.  Most importantly, the Language Policy Law openly and unabashedly violates not only countless laws presently in force in Ukraine, but also shamelessly goes against the Ukrainian Constitution that establishes the Ukrainian language as the sole official language of Ukraine.  This legislation also brazenly undermines the development of the national identity of the Ukrainian people and subverts the independent statehood of Ukraine. 
The circumstances surrounding the passage of this legislation are permeated with gross violations of the basic principles of justice and fair play and put into dire jeopardy the implementation of the universal concepts of the rule of law in Ukraine. 
Legislative actions of the Ukrainian Parliament are governed by the law on "The Regulations of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine", which establishes the procedures for the introduction, deliberation, voting, and adoption by the Ukrainian Parliament of proposed legislation before it can come into legal effect.  During the passage of the Language Policy Law, these procedures were systematically and blatantly ignored!  For example, the prerequisite preliminary reports on the effects of the legislation were never submitted to the legislative body; the draft bill was put to a vote without the requisite committee reports on proposed amendments to and effects of the proposed legislation; the proposed law was subjected to agenda maneuvering so as to avoid open and public discussion of its contents by the entire parliament; and, final adoption was voted upon by absent legislators in stark contradiction to the Ukrainian Constitution. 
The Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament, Volodymyr Lytwyn, was not present during the adoption session and, after learning of its passage, announced his resignation in opposition to the Language Policy Law.  In response, the majority party of the Ukrainian Parliament has purportedly adopted legislation that would authorize the Speaker’s removal by a mere majority vote as opposed to the present 300 vote requirement. The law on "The Regulations of the Parliament of Ukraine" mandates that the speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament give his approval to all legislation before it can be sent to the Ukrainian President for signature into law.  Without the parliamentary speaker’s signature, the legislation cannot become law. 
Therefore, under these circumstances, the UABA strongly urges Speaker Lytwyn NOT to give his approval either to the Language Policy Law or to the legislation that would alter the vote requirement to remove the Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament. 
Furthermore, the UABA strongly and emphatically call upon our brethren lawyers and jurists in Ukraine, especially the World Congress of Ukrainian Jurists, the Ukrainian Bar Association, the Union of Advokats [SpilkaAdvokativ], the Association of Lawyers [Pravnykiv], and the Union of Jurists, to actively and fervently oppose the Language Policy Law for its obviously unashamed unconstitutionality and anti-Ukrainianism, and its socially and nationally divisive nature.  The UABA further emphasizes that failure to do so will be a violation of a lawyer’s sacred oath to uphold the rule of law. 
Lastly, we note that President ViktorYanukovych is the chief of state of ALL of Ukraine - irrespective of religious orientation, or political party affiliation, or language preference of its citizens - and is therefore the guarantor of the constitution of the entire nation as a whole.  If the Language Policy Law is signed into law by the President, the political consequences will be disastrous for Ukraine: it will divide the country needlessly, it will foment opposition and ignite divisiveness within Ukrainian society and in the end - it will be the major catalyst for the destruction of the underpinnings of Ukrainian statehood. 
Therefore,  The Ukrainian American Bar Association respectfully but ardently calls upon President Viktor Yanukovych, as guarantor of the Constitution of Ukraine, to make every effort to ensure that the bill "On the Principles of Language Policy" is removed from further consideration as encroaching on the constitutional order of Ukraine, and, if the legislation comes before him for approval, that he veto it forthwith since it infringes on the constitutional order of Ukraine. 
For the Officers and Board of Governors of the Ukrainian American Bar Association 
George Pazuniak, President 

Myroslaw Smorodsky, Chairman of the Board of Governors 

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