Violations of UOC believers’ rights reported to UN human rights defenders

Head of the UOC Representation to European International Organizations, Bishop Victor (Kotsaba) of Baryshevka took part in the events of 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council. Photo: UOC

Head of the UOC Representation to European International Organizations told about violations of the UOC believers’ rights at 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council.

On July 9, 2019, the head of the UOC Representation to European International Organizations, Bishop Victor (Kotsaba) of Baryshevka, took part in the events of the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council, which runs in Geneva from June 24 to July 12, 2019. It is reported by the Information and Education Department of the UOC.

Issues of systemic violation of the rights of Orthodox believers in Ukraine, the adoption of measures aimed at the abolition of discriminatory laws and the restoration of violated rights of believers, including by returning property seized by force, were discussed at a simultaneous side event during the UNHRC 41st session “Religious Freedoms in Ukraine, Montenegro and Macedonia".

The event was organized by the non-governmental human rights organization NGO Public Advocacy having consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council.

Representatives of the Orthodox Churches present at the event described the circumstances of violations of the rights of believers in the countries of their ministry, eventuated by the attempts to adopt discriminatory laws, blocking worship services and other offences.

In his speech, Bishop Victor spoke about violations of the rights of believers in Ukraine, in particular, about adopting a discriminatory law on renaming religious organizations of the UOC, refusals of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine to register the statutes of dioceses and monasteries of the UOC, as well as raider seizure of temples.

A package of written statements concerning violations of the rights of believers of the UOC, in the framework of the 41st session, was sent to the Human Rights Council and published on the website of the UN Documentation Center.

In turn, clerics and lawyers of the dioceses of the Serbian Orthodox Church stated that the Montenegrin government supports the “Montenegrin Orthodox Church”, not recognized by the Local Churches, and restricts the legal rights of hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Also, the violation of the rights of Orthodox believers in Northern Macedonia has not yet ceased.

Participants of the event stated that now there are already several ecclesiastical jurisdictions in the world, which are affected by the arbitrariness and violations of human rights.

Human rights activists believe: in order to halt these violations, representatives of religious organizations, alongside the international community and civil society, should make all possible efforts to influence state power and politicians who must ensure real, rather than declarative, observance of human rights.

As previously reported, during 2018 - 2019, dozens of religious organizations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church sent complaints under the established procedure to the Human Rights Council and the UN Special Rapporteurs.

In October 2018, the UN Special Rapporteurs sent a Communication to the Ukrainian government regarding violations of the UOC believers’ rights.

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