A year ago Ukrainian government passed a special law for IDPs. Half a year late at the moment it was enacted, the law did not meet the existing challenges then and now meets them even less.
On October 20, Kyiv hosted a round table devoted to the anniversary of enactment of the law. Participants discussed the interim consequences of the law, its disadvantages and the prospects of further development of the law regarding the protection of rights of internally displaced persons.
According to the coordinator of charity fund Vostok-SOS Oleksandra Dvoretska, the majority of normative acts for local authorities concerned only the creation of a system for registering IDPs, controlling their movement and restricting social payments. The acts regarding the protection of rights of IDPs have not been passed fully. For example, there are no documents concerning allocation of accommodation for IDPs, though the law includes such a norm.
The participant of the round table also noted that currently the lack of long-term government strategy regarding IDPs is the key problem. It is hard for people to plan their lives without a clear answer of the government whether will they stay in the new place or not. As the Representative for the Rights of IDPs of the Commissioner for Human Rights Zhanna Lukyanenko said, the strategy needs to be flexible and to meet the international standards.
“According to the international norms, the programme should include long-term solutions. Of course, in Ukraine we cannot have a situation, when either all people stay or all people leave. We need alternatives, for example, when people have taken roots, we need to help them to integrate. At the same time we can help people, who will want to return to the liberated territories after the territorial integrity of Ukraine is restored,” Lukyanenko said.
The necessity of long-term socialization programme for IDPs was detailed in the transitional provisions of the law, and the programme was expected to be introduced in January 2015, but that did not happen. Moreover, the programme is too focused and does not cover all the necessary issues. As the Head of the Department on Social Protection for Victims of the Emergencies at the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine Serhii Marushchenko told QirimInfo, currently, according to the decree approving National Human Rights Strategy, working groups are developing — under the direction of Ministry of Justice — a plan of implementing the part of the Strategy that concerns IDPs.
Mychailo Chaplyga, representative of the Commissioner for Human Rights, also talked about the coherent strategy regarding IDPs and said that government has to create a single institution overseeing this issue.
“For a long time we have been insisting — including an appeal we wrote to the Cabinet of Ministers — that a single government institution responsible for this policy has to be created. We need to understand clearly who is responsible for what,” Chaplyga said.
An institution with similar functions — a Resource Center for IDPs — was created under the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights. It became a discussion platform for NGOs that are helping IDPs. It is used to discuss solutions that are later considered by the government in order to improve their functioning.
Experts also discussed other issues that need legislative regulation. According to the head consultant of Verkhovna Rada Human Rights Committee Yurii Buznitskii, there is a group of citizens neither the government, nor the NGOs take care of. These are the people living in the so-called “grey zone” near the border with occupied territories. In reality, the state institutions do not operate in this zone and there are issues with water supply, heating and electricity there. To provide people living there with basic services legislative basis that does not exist currently is needed.
The participants of the round table also discussed the vulnerability of IDPs from Crimea. According to the lawyer of CrimeaSOS Viktoriya Savchuk, IDPs from Crimea have their own unique troubles. For example, it is hard for citizens registered in Crimea to change passports. Acquiring first passport at the age of 16 is also complicated, since officials know they will have trouble making a record about registration in Crimea and deny applications. Extending pensions is also troublesome, since a pension file that is kept in Crimea is needed.
The participant of the round table concluded that the existing law does not meet the current needs and agreed to create a working group that will prepare new normative acts and necessary legislative changes.