The norms of the bill on the Occupied Territories violate fundamental human rights

Not long ago, a group of deputies, including Oksana Syroed, Dmitry Tymchuk, Georgiy Logvinskiy, Semen Semenchenko, Yegor Sobolev and many others, have registered a new draft law “On the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine» (№ 3593-d of 19/07/2016,). Since the draft law concerns the issues of Crimea and respect for human rights, the experts of the Crimean human rights group conducted its analysis and determined that many norms do not conform to the Constitution of Ukraine, laws of Ukraine and international law.

MPs propose to combine Crimea and parts of Donetsk and Lugansk regions in a single law as temporarily occupied territories. Of course, the events in these areas have a number of similarities. However, the bill does not take into account the fact that, in accordance with international legal norms, as well as taking into account the actual situation in these regions, these territories have many differences and their union in one law would create a lot of problems.

In general, it seems that the deputies in the first place, sought to remove the responsibility of the state for the people who remained in the occupied territories. However, these people are citizens of Ukraine, as they did not apply for renunciation of citizenship, which means that Ukraine should seek and develop mechanisms for the protection and assistance to its citizens, and not to abandon them. Moreover, war or emergency state was not entered in Ukraine or in its particular areas. So, according to Article 64 of the Constitution of Ukraine, there is no reason for the restriction of constitutional rights and freedoms of human and citizen, and Ukraine can not absolve responsibility to protect the constitutional rights of citizens.

Deputies intend to place the responsibility for the payment of pensions and social benefits to citizens of Ukraine in Crimea and certain regions of Donbass on Russia, which violates the Constitution and laws of Ukraine. The obligation of Russia to pay pensions and social payments groundless and violates the rights of Ukrainian citizens. MPs to justify this approach refer to international legal norms. But the rules of international law, in particular Article 55 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, do not provide the obligation to pay pensions and other social benefits by the Occupant State. Moreover, with regard to the occupied territories of Lugansk and Donetsk regions it is impossible because the so-called LNR and DNR are not officially recognized, even terrorist organizations, which are funded by the Russian Federation. Ukraine as a state should implement mechanisms that will give Ukrainian citizens at the occupied territories access to their legitimate pensions and social payments (for example, under the control of the territory), taking into account that for many people in these areas it is impossible to move to the territory controlled by Ukraine. And these mechanisms have been repeatedly offered by human rights defenders and lawyers.

Article 10 of the draft law introduces a moratorium on the accrual of interest and penalties on the principal amount of debt on credit obligations to repatriate, entities and sole proprietors. But at the same time, this norm does not provide a moratorium on the accrual of interest and penalties on the principal amount of debt on credit obligations for individuals who remained in the occupied territories. This allows banks to sell the amount of debt to Russian debt collection offices to recover their debts.

The bill established substantial and unjustified restrictions to cross “borders of temporarily occupied territory.” These restrictions, taking into account that the section of the state border of Ukraine in the east is not controlled now, look strange and inappropriate.

Since January of this year the Crimean Human Rights Group and a number of other human rights organizations seeking the abolition of restrictions, which introduced the infamous Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers № 1035 on the transportation of personal staff through the check points to the so-called “Crimean border.” It is quite possible that soon they will change the decree and people will be able to carry their things freely from Crimea. But a new bill on the contrary offers to fix the norms of these unconstitutional decisions on the level of law and return “list of personal things,” according to the Customs Code.

Perhaps MPs do not know what personal things of citizens are not subject to regulation of the supply of goods (works, services), and are the property of the citizens. Personal belongings in such a case (for personal use) do not go under the regulations of the Customs Code of Ukraine.

In addition, a list of personal belongings of citizens set out in paragraphs 1-23 of part 1 of article 370 of the Customs Code of Ukraine is very narrow and significantly restrict the ownership of the personal belongings of the citizens, since many things citizens cannot take through the “border of the temporarily occupied territory.”

In addition, such a norm makes it virtually impossible to evacuate personal belongings of citizens residing in the temporarily occupied territory. This, in its turn, prevents the evacuation of the civilian population from the temporarily occupied territory. Thus, this norm is contrary to the Code of Civil Defence of Ukraine.

And this is not the whole list of the problems that this bill may result. Adoption of the law in this edition violates the fundamental human rights of citizens who have remained in the occupied territories, the right to social security, pensions, participation in electoral processes, disposal of property, freedom of movement.

In this connection, the Crimean human rights group drew attention of deputies, the President, the Ministers on the bill to prevent the adoption of another law, which will worsen the situation of the people who remained in the occupied territories. Results of the analysis of the draft law were sent by the CHRG to the Ministry of on the temporarily occupied territories and internally displaced persons.

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