Monitoring activities performed by civil society and human rights organizations show that gaps in Ukrainian laws are causing systematic problems and violations of the rights of citizens of temporarily occupied territories of Crimea and IDPs from Crimea. During a press briefing at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center, activists presented a roadmap with 10 steps for Ukraine to take in order to eliminate existing discriminatory regulations.
The first thing Ukraine should do is institute an administrative procedure for documenting the births and deaths of people from temporarily occupied territories. “Ukraine currently records only 10-15% of all births and deaths occurring in Crimea’s occupied territories,” told Daria Svyrydova, expert of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.
The issue of the legal status of persons that served a sentence in Crimean detention facilities is still unresolved. In light of this, activists demand that the government develop a mechanism for returning these people to Ukraine and restoring their legal status. “We also recommend developing a procedure for the re-examination of decisions made by Ukrainian courts in cases involving persons that are currently serving a sentence in the occupied territories of Crimea, have been illegally moved to Russia, or have returned to Ukraine, who urgently need a right to appeal their sentence,” added Daria Svyrydova.
The Government of Ukraine should also adopt legislative acts for supporting the families of political prisoners held in Crimea. “There are such initiatives, but little political enthusiasm to realize them. […] At the end of the year we provided the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine with a list of people that have been illegally imprisoned for political reasons – there are at least 64 such persons. And the list is growing, with new cases and verdicts emerging,” noted Olga Skrypnyk, Head of the Board of the Crimean Human Rights Group.
Still unresolved are the issues related to the “non-resident” status, particularly in connection with the availability of bank services. “To address this issue, it is necessary to repeal the law on the free economic zone of “Crimea” and draft a law that would address the problem,” said Olga Skrypnyk.
Another measure for the Ukrainian Government could include simplifying evacuation of personal property from Crimea and improving sanitary conditions at access points.
Yevgeniya Andriyuk, deputy head coordinator of the Crimea SOS civil society initiative, remarked that the government should turn its attention toward protecting the personal data regarding IDPs and putting a stop to the exchange of this information with Russian government agencies. “The problem is, with the armed conflict ongoing, we are providing the aggressor state with personal information on persons that have relocated but are still considered Ukrainian citizens – and this information can be easily used against these people,” she stressed.
The procedure for issuing passports could also use some work. “People today have to wait up to 2 months to get their passport and are unable to go back to Crimea during this time,” noted Yevgeniya Andriyuk.
Tetiana Pechonchyk, head of the Human Rights Information Center, believes that the government should address the issue regarding the right to vote in local elections for IDPs and access to education for them.
It is also necessary to simplify travelling to Crime for foreign media, advocates and human rights activists. “The procedure for issuing travelling permits is overly complex, bureaucratic and tedious. We think it should be enough to notify authorities of your intention to travel instead of waiting for permission.