Joint statement of UNHCR and NGO partners on the draft law “On Temporarily Occupied Territory of Ukraine”

KYIV, 24 October 2016 - On 19 July 2016, twenty-nine Members of the Parliament have registered an elaborated version of draft law No3593-d “On Temporarily Occupied Territory of Ukraine”. The continuous efforts of the Parliament to set legal standards with relation to territories not controlled by the Government of Ukraine (namely the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions), and their population, are welcome. However, the substance of the mentioned draft law further contributes to the isolation of those “occupied territories”, fully rejects Ukraine’s responsibility for the protection of human rights of its own citizens residing in territories not controlled by the Government of Ukraine. In its current version, the draft law also undermines the principles of reconciliation and post-conflict settlement.

UNHCR, its implementing partners “The Right to Protection” and CrimeaSOS, as well as Vostok-SOS and Danish Refugee Council are highly concerned with the possible impact of the abovementioned draft law if adopted.

Restricted humanitarian access due to the suggested full economic and transport blockade of the territories not controlled by the Government may lead to disrupted provision of essential supplies to inhabitants of non-controlled parts of the country. In turn, this tightening of the regime may cause new waves of displacement.

Rejection of all responsibility for the protection of human rights of the population living in territories not controlled by the Government may lead to the breach of obligations of Ukraine under international treaties.

Reduced civil and political rights for residents of de-occupied regions will result in political exclusion, challenges in adaptation and reintegration, and low responsiveness to initiatives of re-established governmental structures.

Inadequate reconciliation measures bear the risk of increasing social tensions and further discriminating against inhabitants of the territories not controlled by the Government.

We recommend that the Parliament and the Government of Ukraine look for approaches that will allow reconciling State security issues with human rights obligations of Ukraine and consider involving in the discussions foreign experts, civil society members and international organizations with vast experience in post-conflict setting and sculpturing of transitional justice mechanisms as well as reconciliation efforts. 

The document signed: 

Pablo Mateu

UNHCR Representation to Ukraine

Aleksandr Galkin

Right to Protection

Tamila Tasheva

Crimea SOS

Aleksandra Dvoretskaya

Vostok SOS

Krista Zongolowicz

Danish Refugee Council


Please find Explanatory Note for the Joint Statement here.