On January 18, 2018, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted in the second reading the Draft Law #7163 “On Peculiarities of the State Policy on Provision of the State Sovereignty of Ukraine upon Temporary Occupied Territories”. The Draft Law is aiming to create a new legal basis for repelling hostile aggression of the Russian Federation in Donbas, and in the long term prospective – to restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
However, the philosophy of this important law, initiated by the President in October 2017, was substantially amended during its elaboration at the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on National Security and Defense, and as a result, the Draft Law includes provisions, the application of which would lead to significant violations of human rights, and will negatively affect the humanitarian situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and worsen the connection with the citizens of Ukraine living in the temporarily occupied territories.
In particular, we draw your attention to the fact that Article 12 of the updated Draft Law provide a wide range of powers without any control mechanisms to military, law enforcement officials and other persons involved in the implementation of national security and defense. For example, the right to use weapons and special tools on those who committed or committing any legal offense, or other actions that impede the fulfillment of “legal requirements”, or commit acts related to an unauthorized attempt to enter the area of the implementation of these measures. In addition, according to this Draft Law, security officials will be able to detain and deliver persons for further checks, check documents, exercise personal inspection, inspection of belongings, enter residential and other premises, use civilian transport and communication facilities in unspecified in the Draft Law “security zones adjacent to the area of hostilities”. Obviously, the provisions of this article will have a significant impact on relations between military and civilian population and protection of human rights in the region. Especially taking into account that the presence in the area of the implementation of measures for the national security and defense of persons not involved in the implementation of such measures may be temporarily limited during the period of such measures by the Commander of the Joint Force. This could lead to a sharp decrease in the number of civil society organizations, intergovernmental organizations and international NGOs operating in the conflict zone and in the so-called “gray zone”, and hence lead to the decrease of the volume of humanitarian assistance and services that currently can be received by its residents.
In addition, issues of the implementation of the rights and freedoms of the inhabitants of the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts remain uncertain as well as issues concerning the consequences of the simultaneous conduction of the anti-terrorist operation coordinated by the Security Service of Ukraine and measures to ensure national security and defense, repulsing and deterring armed aggression of the Russian Federation directly in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which will be conducted under the governance of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Thus, recognizing the importance and urgency of the Draft Law 7163, adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, we would like to pay your attention to some provisions that can adversely affect the citizens of Ukraine residing in the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, as well as those living in Government controlled areas; worsen the humanitarian situation in the region and lead to a new wave of resettlement of citizens. As a result, the law that should provide foundation for addressing further issues related to the de-occupation of territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and return them under the jurisdiction of Ukraine, will create additional difficulties for those who suffer from the fourth year of Russian military aggression.
Therefore we appeal to the President with a request to return the Draft Law “On Peculiarities of the State Policy on Provision of the State Sovereignty of Ukraine upon Temporary Occupied Territories” to the Verkhovna Rada with substantiated and formulated proposals to open the procedure of repeated consideration of the Draft Law in the Parliament of Ukraine.
Tetyana Pechonchyk, Human rights information centre
Oleksandra Dvoretska, Vostok-SOS
Oleksandr Galkin, Right to Protection
Olga Gvozdyova, Donbas SOS
Denys Kobzsn, Kharkiv institute of social researches
Vadym Pyvovarov, Association of Ukrainian human rights monitors on Law Enforcement
Oleksandra Romantsova, Center for Civil Liberties