Responding to new challenges caused by the difficult situation in the East of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (UHHRU) with the support of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Human Rights in Action Activity has additionally opened three new legal aid centers in the cities located close to the conflict zone: Mariupol, Krasnoarmiysk and Kryvyi Rih.
Legal aid centers are aimed at providing free legal aid to maximum possible number of people who got into a tight situation.
“The main goal of lawyers working in the legal aid centers of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights network is ensuring access to justice by providing free legal aid to people experiencing hardship. Restoration of the violated rights is the best way to regain trust in the current national environment” – comments Natalia Kozarenko, the regional coordinator of the UHHRU network of legal aid centers.
According to lawyers of the legal aid centers, range of issues people are applying with is very diverse. However, the most urgent appeals are still those relating to the state recognition of documents issued in the territory which is not controlled by Ukraine, obtaining of social benefits, compensation for damages caused by the aggression of the neighboring state (destroyed property, incurred losses, physical damage and injury, death of family members, re-issue of documents, employment of displaced persons, violations of the right to work and so on.
“People who apply to us for assistance are mostly concerned about the issues related to pension benefits, subsidies, loss of property due to military operations or property remaining in the territory which is not controlled by Ukraine. Even though we have started to work quite recently, every day there more and more visitors coming who are in need of primary legal aid” – says Tatiana Samoderzhenkova, the coordinator of the UHHRU legal aid center in Mariupol.
Lawyers of the legal aid centers are also documenting the circumstances of the destruction of houses and loss of lives as a result of the ATO. The obtained data is transferred to the Strategic Litigation Center of the UHHRU with the aim to develop mechanisms for filing complaints with the European Court of Human Rights.
“A woman, who was fleeing from war and together with her children moved to Kryvyi Rih from the Luhansk region, has recently requested our assistance. She was sentenced to death as “the traitor” by representatives of the so-called “LNR” (Luhansk People Republic) for “having left her motherland”. Currently, we are trying to help her to get compensation for her lost house which has been taken away by the “LNR” bandits. Moreover these bandits are permanently threatening the woman by calling to her mobile phone” – says Tatiana Dyrda, the coordinator of the legal aid center of the UHHRU in Krivyi Rih.
Since the majority of residents from the areas bordering the ATO zone require the legal aid, in the near future the lawyers plan to offer on-site consultations. Human rights defenders will consult citizens in Dobropillya, Dymytrov, Selydove, Hornyak, Novgorodsk and Rodynske. “On-site consultations like these are of crucial importance. In this way we assume to be able to help more people who cannot come directly to the legal aid centers for whatever reasons” – says Artem Bezruk, the coordinator of the UHHRU legal aid center in Krasnoarmiysk.
The lawyers of the legal aid centers also plan to establish cooperation with public voluntary service organizations in the near future in order to provide more high-quality legal assistance to those who need it.
Please be reminded that legal aid centers of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (in Ukrainian) are available almost all over Ukraine. The centers have established communication between each other. Thus, whenever necessary, any public appeal will be directed to an appropriate lawyer for delivering effective assistance. Anyone who needs it can solve urgent issues by contacting the lawyers of the legal aid center via the helpline or visiting in person.
Address: 60 Lermontova Str., Kryvyi Rih, 50002
Visiting days: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday from 09.00 a.m. till 12.00 a.m.
Without previous appointment.
Helpline.: (097) 368 04 31
Address: 82 Nakhimova Ave., Mariupol, 87510,
Visiting days: Monday from 09.00 a.m. till 3.00 p.m., Thursday from 2.00 p.m. till 6.00 p.m.
Without previous appointment.
Helpline: (067) 621 00 12
Address: 6 Frunze Str., Krasnoarmiysk
Visiting days: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday from 09.00 a.m. till 4.00 p.m.
Helpline: (095) 672 4575