IRF - Institute for Religious Freedom, Kyiv, Ukraine

Religious freedom threatened: Ukrainian Parliament adopted the draft law #4128-D without discussion with the churches PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 24 January 2019 15:10


The Parliament of Ukraine hastily adopted the draft law #4128-D without any discussion and without a second reading, ignoring numerous remarks of the churches and experts.

At a meeting on January 17, 2019 the Ukrainian Parliament decided to adopt a new version of the draft law #4128-D immediately as a law – without the necessary revision in the Committee, and thus introduced a new procedure for the registration of religious organizations without any consultation with them, the Institute for Religious Freedom reports.

With the third attempt, 229 parliamentarians voted for the bill out of all 423 MPs.

The adopted Law adds amendments to the articles 8, 14 and 18 of the Law of Ukraine "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations" introducing new requirements for the registration and re-registration of religious organizations, as well as creating a "united window" for submitting the documents.

One of the biggest problems of the adopted Law is the call for a new re-registration of all religious organizations with the requirement to provide lists of all believers who participated in the general meeting of the religious community.

This is due to the provision of the adopted Law on the necessity of bringing the statutes of all religious communities into conformity with the new Law within one year from the moment of its publishing. At the same time, such re-registration will cost believers considerable expenses, since each signature on the new version of the statute and on the minutes of the general meeting of a religious organization must be notarized.

On the eve of voting the list of significant remarks to the draft law #4128-D was sent to the members of Parliament and the leadership of the main committee and parliamentary fractions but the Parliament ignored it. The head of the Board of the Institute for Religious Freedom Oleksandr Zaiets, chairman of the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations of Ukraine, the Chief Rabbi of Kyiv and Ukraine Jacob Dov Bleich, sent appeals to the Parliament to finalize the draft law in the second reading.

It is noteworthy that during his speech from the parliamentary rostrum, the chairman of the Committee on Culture and Spirituality Mykola Kniazhytsky said that such appeals with the remarks to the draft law #4128-D are allegedly "fake" and contain groundless criticism of the suggested amendments.

It should be noted that the revised draft law #4128-d appeared on the Ukrainian Parliament's website only at the night before voting day (authors – Mykola Kniazhytsky, Iryna Podolyak, Viktor Yelensky). Despite this, even before the publication of the text of the draft law, the main Committee reviewed it at a meeting on January 16 and recommended the parliament to adopt it immediately as a law – without a second reading, without consulting with the religious community and experts.

Of the 16 significant remarks by the IRF to the adopted law, the following can be distinguished:

• The requirement of the Law to register with the new edition of the statute of a religious community together with the list of all members of the community is, on the one hand, unjustified interference with the internal affairs of the religious community, violation of the right of believers to confidentiality of their religious beliefs and, on the other hand, an excessive aggravating condition of preservation of legal entity status;

• The provisions of the Law that "the decision to change subordination and make appropriate amendments to the statute shall be adopted not less than 2/3 of the number of members of the religious community" cannot be realized in practice in those religious communities that do not have a fixed membership, and the parish councils or other similar governing bodies perform functions of the general meeting;

• The requirement of the Law that "the decision to change the subordination and make appropriate amendments to the statute shall be certified by the signatures of the members of the religious community present at such general meetings", it will be impossible to practice this in numerous religious communities with dozens, hundreds or thousands of members, since their signatures will have to be notarized, which involves making a payment for the certification of each signature;

• The non-alternative requirement for monasteries, religious fraternities, missions, religious educational institutions to submit documents confirming ownership or right of use of the premises indicated by their location is an unjustified aggravating obstacle to their religious activity;

• The requirement of the Law to submit "an original version or a duly certified copy of the current version of the statutes on the date of filling the documents for re-registration" cannot be performed for those religious organizations whose statutes have been published by the state registrar in an electronic version on the portal of the Ministry of Justice without providing a certified original.

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