Public Appeal of Ukrainian Human Rights Organizations with the Request to Return Draft Law no. 7163 for Reconsideration

To the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko,

Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Andriy Parubiy,

Heads of Parliamentary Factions,

People’s Deputies of Ukraine

Public statement of Ukrainian human rights organizations with the request to return draft law No. 7163 “On the peculiarities of state policy on ensuring Ukraine’s state sovereignty over the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts” for reconsideration

Being engaged into the protection of human rights amid the military conflict since the very beginning of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, documentation of crimes against humanity and war crimes in the occupied territories, as well as delivering legal assistance to victims, Ukrainian human rights organizations are now appealing to you in order to prevent the adoption of a deficient legislative regulation guiding the state policy in regard to the military conflict in east of Ukraine and the occupation of Crimea.

On October 6, 2017, the President of Ukraine submitted an urgent draft law No. 7163 that passed its first reading in the Parliament. Further on, the given draft law was sent to the relevant Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Security and Defense for revision. On November 17, having considered more than 600 amendments, members of the Committee approved an updated text and sent it to the Parliament with the recommendation to adopt it in the second reading in its entirety. As of November 27, a comparative table with the adopted amendments has not yet been published on the Parliament’s website. We demand to stop a non-transparent consideration of the draft law that is contrary to the Rules of Procedure of the Verkhovna Rada.


While welcoming in general a national authorities’ initiative to regulate the issues of Russia’s armed aggression in the territory of Ukraine that has already been lasting for four years and making a note of the positive tendencies of the draft-law such as :

  1. determining Russian Federation acts on the territory of Ukraine as those of an aggressor state which have resulted in an armed conflict;
  2. making partial references to international humanitarian law provisions;
  3. proposing a legal regime alternative to that of an anti-terrorist operation (ATO);
  4. defining a chain of subordination of Ukraine’s military units which are involved in the armed conflict;
  5. defining diplomatic, sanctional and other measures aimed at restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine within an internationally recognized state border;
  6. defining an overall intention of the state to protect civilians in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts;
  7. expressing an intention to document the events in the territories of the conflict via administrative procedures

we believe necessary to emphasize the importance of adhering to human rights standards and international humanitarian law. The named draft law has a number of significant shortcomings, namely:

  1. Selective general approach to the observance and fulfillment of obligations in the field of international humanitarian law.
  2. Lack of minimum responsibilities for the protection of civilians under dangerous conditions in accordance with international obligations.
  3. Lack of general rules for the protection of ‘the protected persons’ in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.
  4. Absence of a clear procedure for determining the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
  5. Inappropriate inclusion of certain norms that do not relate to the conflict resolution.
  6. Inadmissibility of the procedure for recognition of the documents issued in the so-called DPR/LPR.
  7. Existence of legal conflicts between this draft law and related legislation concerning occupied Crimea.

Detailed analysis of the aforesaid shortcomings is given here, in Ukrainian.

We are deeply concerned by the fact that this document is lacking a balance between defense of the national geopolitical interests and protection of civilians.

Based on those mentioned above and given the importance of the issues to be settled by the draft law No. 7163 “On the peculiarities of state policy on ensuring Ukraine’s state sovereignty over the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts”, we thereby require:

  1. To return the draft law No. 7163 for reconsideration.
  2. To engage international human rights law and international humanitarian law experts, as well as representatives of the Ukrainian non-governmental organizations for further amending and discussing the draft law No. 7163.
  3. Following the current legislation, to ensure a public and transparent procedure for discussion and consideration of the draft law No. 7163.

Oleksandr PAVLICHENKO, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Evghen ZAKHAROV, Director of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

Mariya TOMAK, Coordinator of the Media Initiative for Human Rights

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