Bills No. 6674 and No. 6675, developed by the President, were registered in the Parliament in early July 2017. They were designed to replace the scandalous amendments to the anti-corruption legislation, which obliged anti-corruption activists to submit annual electronic declarations about personal assets and property (Law No. 1975-VIII of 23 March 2017). So, it was proposed to abolish e-declaration for civic anti-corruption activists in exchange for introducing additional tax reporting for NGOs and individual entrepreneurs, as well as enterprises, institutions, and organizations that provide them with services.
Bills Nos. 6674 and 6675 impose an unnecessary reporting duty on all civil society organizations and individual entrepreneurs, enterprises, institutions and organizations that provide them with services.
It is significant that according to these bills, the volume of reports for civil society organizations significantly exceeds that which is set for business. Moreover, reporting of such volume is not required even for recipients of budget funds.
We believe that, such legislative initiatives did not appear by chance on the background of statements about the need to reduce excessive state regulation. The punishment in the form of the abolition of the non-profit status of a civil society organization was of a punitive nature and was nothing more than the introduction of a tool for selective pressure on non-governmental organizations that are not loyal to the Government.
We consider that this initiative of the President of Ukraine as a disproportionate interference with the activities of civil society organizations. Such steps make Ukraine similar to repressive regimes – the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, etc. Despite the apparent concern for transparency and accountability, the regulation introduced in these countries led to almost destruction of civil society associations, that were uncontrolled by the governments, and total crackdown on civil society.
No international treaties require such state control over activities of civil society associations, since, according to international standards, the associations have the right to freedom from state interference in their activities.
The Guidelines on Freedom of Association of the Council of Europe and OSCE stipulate that “the state shall not require but shall encourage and facilitate associations to be accountable and transparent“. In this case, special reporting requirements are permissible only if certain privileges are granted and “it is within the discretion of the association to decide whether to comply with such reporting requirements or forgo them and forsake any related special benefits, where applicable“.
Given the above mentioned, we demand from the Parliament to immediately reject bills Nos. 6674 and 6675 of July 10, 2017, and from the President of Ukraine – to fulfill his promise to repeal the amendments to the anti-corruption legislation of March 2017.
Reference: Human Rights Agenda Platform is an informal coalition of human rights organizations, working in the area of monitoring, analysis and drawing up of legislation in compliance with the basic principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Members of the Platform are Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, Center for Civil Liberties, Amnesty International in Ukraine, Human Rights Information Center, Center for Study of Law Enforcement Activities, Human Rights House Kyiv, Centre for Social Action, “Without Borders” Project, Euromaidan SOS. The Platform’s coordination is carried out by the Center for Civil Liberties. Contacts for communication: email@example.com
Center for Civil Liberties
Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
Kharkiv Institute of Social Researches
Eastern Ukrainian Center for Civic Initiatives
Charity Foundation “East-SOS”
Luhansk Reginal Human Rights Protection Center “Alternative”
Association of the Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors on Law Enforcement
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Open Dialog Foundation
Human Rights Information Center
Crimean Human Rights Protection Group
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Alexandr Galkin, The Right to Protection, NGO, 7 September 2017, 18:07