To Mr. Volodymyr Zelensky,
President of Ukraine
Mr. Denys Shmyhal’
Prime-Minister of Ukraine
On August 8, 2020, the Government, at the special meeting, adopted Ordinance no 979r that re-imposed in fact the March restrictions on crossing the administrative border with the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea for August 9th – 30th, 2020. According to the Government decision, crossing the administrative border may be allowed or forbidden subject to the registered place of residence. Thus, only the persons who may confirm the residence registration in the controlled territory are allowed to return to the territory controlled by the Ukrainian Government. Accordingly, only people with the place of registration in that territory indicated in their passports, may get into the temporarily occupied territory.
According to the information published at the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine official website, the decision was taken as instructed by President of Ukraine.
However, no public convincing justification has been provided for the need to return the restrictions on passing the checkpoints with Crimea. The need for such measures is explained by the “growing number of COVID-19 infection diagnosis cases“, that has been occurring throughout Ukraine since the pandemic started though has not become a reason to close the borders, even with the Russian Federation. At the same time, the official statistics of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine show that the highest number of active patients per 100 thousand population is registered in Lviv, Zakarpattia and Ivano-Frankivsk regions, which do not border the occupied territory. Apart from this, the Government has not explained in any way why the actions adopted would be more efficient than, for instance, re-starting self-isolation of the Ukrainian nationals with the ‘Act At Home’ application used.
The restrictions were returned suddenly and unexpectedly, with just a week passed after all quarantine restrictions for passing the checkpoints with the occupied Crimea had been withdrawn (e.g., a need to go for a 14-days’ self-isolation using the ‘Act At Home’ application). The people who were on the territory of the peninsula had less than 24h to leave that caused long queues at the checkpoints on August 9th, at night.
The list of humanitarian reasons that justify a need to enter/ leave the occupied territory has not been determined. In practice, this has provoked many times conflicts at the checkpoints, the same circumstances have been treated subjectively by the border guards that resulted into rejecting the Ukrainian nationals to pass or their waiting a long time for the approval to pass, on the checkpoint territory or just outdoors. In addition, the procedure for allowing the people to pass the checkpoint becomes even more complicated: a decision is taken by the Head of State Border Guard Service of Ukraine subject to endorsement by the Ministry for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories – these public officers are unable to make decisions promptly, their working day is limited in time, and they have also days-off when the decision can’t be taken at all. And one more point: such procedure makes it almost impossible for the people to leave the occupied territory urgently. Due to the legal uncertainty, the restrictions imposed may put on risk an admission process for children and young people from the occupied Crimea since the application submission campaign would expire on August 20.
Comparing the restrictions on entering/ leaving the territory of Crimea introduced by the occupation administration of the Russian Federation on March 18th, until August 8, Ukraine demonstrated a completely different approach. But now the unjustified, sudden decision of the Government to impose restrictions for passing the checkpoints with the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea has created a situation where Ukrainian nationals appeared to have been isolated not only by the occupying state but also by their own state, despite claims of reintegration and support to the connections with the occupied territory residents.
We, representatives of organizations that protect the rights of victims of conflict, supporting the implementation of effective measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection in Ukraine, believe that imposing the restriction to pass the checkpoints with the occupied Crimea as done would be considered an unreasonable and disproportionate restriction of freedom of movement. The closure of the checkpoints has deprived the Ukrainian nationals living in the occupied Crimea of access to education and medical care, may cause the family separation and other significant adverse effects.
We are appealing to President of Ukraine and Prime Minister of Ukraine
- to explain in public the reasons for instructing the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to adopt a decision on restoring the restrictions on crossing the administrative border with the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea by the Ukrainian nationals;
- to approve immediately amendments to the legal and regulative acts of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine for defining the humanitarian grounds that may allow the people to cross the border with the temporarily occupied territory of the AR of Crimea and the Sevastopol City.
Crimean Human Rights Group
ZMINA Center for Human Rights
DONBAS SOS NGO
VOSTOK SOS Charity Fund
Regional Center for Human Rights NGO
ALMENDA Center for Civic Education
Stabilization Support Services Charity Fund
HRUPA VPLYVU Non-Governmental Holding
DIYA Human Rights Center
DESIATE KVITNIA NGO
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Kharkiv Institute for Social Studies
CRIMEA Human Rights House