The “SICH” Human Rights Protection Group told about the district commission on the appointment (renewal) of social benefits to internally displaced persons, operating in Dnipro.
There are many discussions and one ongoing litigation about the Procedure of appointment (renewal) of social benefits to internally displaced persons, approved by Decree No. 365 “On Social Payments to IDPs” of the Cabinet of Ministers. The discrepancy between the Constitution of Ukraine and the current legislation of the proposed mechanism for monitoring social and pension payments to the IDPs caused a whole set of negative consequences for citizens who were forced to leave their homes due to a military conflict in the East.
But the officials of the Dnipro City have come up with own procedures. In Decision No. 208 of 23.06.2016 of the session of the Industrialnyi District Council in the Dnipro City adopted the Regulations on the district commission for the appointment (renewal) of social benefits to internally displaced persons. Paragraph 7 of the Procedure establishes the right of the commission’s members to invite all internally displaced persons registered in the area for their meetings.
How does it look like in practice? In the stifling corridor of the executive committee, 30-40 people are standing along the walls (there are not enough chairs for all), waiting in the queue to enter the hall, where respectable authorities ask several questions, mark something on their papers, and pass them to the next level of physical identification. The same hall, where the commission is sitting, looks like the Hague Tribunal at the local level: semi-circle tables for honorable members of the commission; a chair in front of them to be occupied by a called person; asking questions to the commission is prohibited, in general; the answers should be brief and in essence. There is no way to find information on the composition of the commission and authority of the commission – there are no information stands in the corridor. And why?
Meanwhile, in accordance with paragraph 6 of the above Procedure, only in the case of the absence of an internally displaced person at the actual place of residence/stay, a representative of the structural subdivision on social protection of the population or the working group makes an appropriate entry in the act of inspection of the living conditions of the family and informs the person about the need to appear within 3 business days to the structural unit for social protection of the population for physical identification. If, during the regular check, there are no grounds (specified in the law) for suspending (refusing) previously paid benefits, the commission shall decide on the extension of payments to the internally displaced person.
Such acts confirm the residence of an IDP at the specified address. And they are members of the commission for every IDP of those invited to the meeting. That is, the decision-making procedure looks like this: your last name-first name-patronymic, address of registration, then the look into the act, a few questions – and “please, invite the next person”.
Human rights defenders of the NGO “SICH” HRPS also decided to attend the meeting of the commission. During the communication with visitors, it became known that, according to the agreed Decree of the Procedure, all of them actually had a planned housing inspection, which, under normal conditions, is the basis for confirming the residence of the person at the place of temporary registration, and as a consequence – the continuation of payment of social benefits. But on Friday evening, each of them received a call from a person, who did not want to be introduced, with the invitation to come to the commission in the morning on Monday. No one explained what was the basis and what was the question that arose in the commission. It is clear that the fear of IDPs to remain without payment does not allow refusing to visit even those who understand the illegality of the commission’s action. Therefore, they left their work earlier, left children with friends, wasted their time, regardless of their plans, weather or health. They do not ask superfluous questions, though they are indignant at such an attitude.
It is important that neither IDPs nor the human rights activists of “SICH” failed to find out the composition of the commission – they wished to remain incognito. I had to go to the Office of Labor and Social Security of the district, waiting there for the deputy head to look at the documents and find out who were those demigods from the commission.
In a private conversation with the lawyer, one member explained the newly created procedure to distrust social workers who carry out housing inspections: “What if they enter into a criminal conspiracy?” and the Pension Fund representative also had doubts.
So, it turns out, officials do not trust each other, but IDPs should bear the trouble on their back.
Such an explanation seemed unconvincing. Do you want to fight corruption in your own ranks? We wish excitement and perseverance to you, and more legitimate and not humiliating for people methods! Therefore, a request was sent to the Industrialnyi District Executive Committee to explain such an annex to the procedure common to all of Ukraine. We were stunned by the answer.
Alekseichenko O.Yu., Head of the Industrialnyi District Committee in the Dnipro City, explains that “it is not forbidden by the current legislative acts to invite the applicants to the commission’s meeting for clarification or confirmation of the information necessary for the decision of the commission“. Moreover, this is done “in order to carry out more detailed explanatory work and to prevent cases of unjustified receipt of state funds“.
Kseniia Onyschenko, a lawyer of the “SICH” HRPG, thinks differently.
“The given actions (requirements) of representatives of the Office of Labor and Social Protection of the Population of the Industrialnyi District of Dnipro are illegal and violate the rights of internally displaced persons, since repeated identification of the person (if this fact was confirmed by an act of inspection of living conditions) is not provided for by law. To demand from IDPs to appear in the structural subdivision for social protection of the population for physical identification, the relevant procedure allows only in the absence of an internally displaced person at the actual place of residence/stay,” emphasizes Kseniia Onyshchenko.
In her opinion, members of the commission and employees of the Office of Labor and Social Protection of the Industrialnyi District of the Dnipro City, in the course of their duties, incorrectly interpret the norm stipulated in paragraph 7 of the Procedure of appointment (renewal) of social benefits to internally displaced persons. The lawyer believes that they understand it so that, when controlling social payments for internally displaced persons according to their actual place of residence (stay), regardless of the results of such inspections, all IDPs must appear at a commission meeting and once again undergo identification of the individual.
Unfortunately, we have also been denied to ask for the specification of the relevant paragraph in order to prevent further discriminatory actions against IDPs and degrade their honor and dignity.
Now, lawyers of “SICH” will file an appeal to the court concerning such innovations, will require clarification of this paragraph and, of course, apologies for humiliating the honor and dignity of Ukrainian citizens, who were forced to call themselves IDPs.
“SICH” Human Rights Protection Group