90% of asylum seekers in Ukraine turned down
Ukrainian NGOs report that over the ten years since Ukraine signed the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees, it has not created a system for giving effective assistance to asylum seekers.
At a press conference in Kyiv members of the NGO-run Ukrainian Refugee Council called the only achievement over the last 10 years the creation of a migration service and initiating of procedure for asylum seekers to submit applications to official bodies.
Maxim Butkevych from the Social Action Centre says that Ukraine has failed to create an effective system for protecting people whom Ukraine committed itself to defend. He notes that over 90% of the applications for asylum are rejected, while appeals against the rejection are effectively impossible due to excessive restrictions in the timeframe and bureaucratic impediments in legislation. He adds that there have not just been isolated cases where in response to asylum applications, those seeking refugee status have been forcibly returned to other countries where they face danger. Maxim Butkevych called this the worst violation by Ukraine of international law.
Mr Butkevych also pointed out that refugees are often confused, both in the media and at an official level, with illegal migrants, while there is a high level of intolerance from law enforcement and migration bodies towards refugees and asylum seekers.
Coordinator of the Vinnytsa Human Rights Group, Dmytro Groisman added that the UN Convention does not have a viable mechanism for forcing states to implement its norms. On the other hand, he says, the most flagrant violations of refugees’ rights fall under the European Convention on Human Rights. There have been judgements from the European Court of Human Rights against Ukraine regarding one Belarusian asylum seeker and another from Turkmenistan.
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