OSCE recommends Ukraine to step up protection of UOC believers’ rights

OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting. Photo:protiktor.com

The Ukrainian authorities were recommended to intensify work to increase the protection of the right to peaceful assembly during public worship of the UOC believers.

On November 21 and 22, 2019, an additional OSCE meeting on human dimension, the Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting, was held in Vienna, following which Ukraine was recommended to enhance the protection of the rights of the UOC parishioners. This was reported on the NGO Public Advocacy website.

The meeting participants discussed the issue of ensuring freedom of peaceful assembly by states.

Employees of NGO Public Advocacy drew the attention of the OSCE Participating States, as well as international and human rights organizations, to the problem of violations of the UOC believers’ rights, whose right to freedom of religion is also realized through holding peaceful assemblies during public services.

The president of the NGO Public Advocacy, Oleg Denisov, highlighted during the session the problems of non-investigation of criminal proceedings on violations of the rights of participants in the All-Ukrainian Religious Procession in 2016. Denisov reported gross violations of the right to peaceful assembly of the UOC believers, who even received threats in connection with their participation in the Cross Procession.

For example, in Odessa region, buses with pilgrims who were supposed to take part in a peaceful religious procession were blocked under the threat of arson, about which the Odessa Eparchy of the UOC made an official statement.

According to Denisov, in 2019 the right of the UOC believers to hold peaceful meetings during public worship continues to be in jeopardy, since the numerous violent seizures of temples do not contribute to the proper implementation of this right.

In this regard, the state of Ukraine was recommended to step up work to increase the protection of the rights to peaceful assembly during public worship of the UOC believers.

Earlier, as a result of NGO Public Advocacy's appeals to the UN Human Rights Council and negotiations with UN Special Rapporteurs, the Government of Ukraine was addressed with questions about violations of the rights of believers taking part in the All-Ukrainian Cross Procession in 2016. The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association signed it. This suggests that the international community has already expressed concern about violations of the rights of believers in Ukraine.

“NGO Public Advocacy will continue to keep the international community updated with regard to the stance of Orthodox communities in Ukraine and will demand the resumption of the investigation of violations of the rights of the UOC believers in all categories of offences,” the human rights organization said.

Earlier, the UOJ reported that the UN had blocked the decision on the eviction from the UOC temple in Ivano-Frankovsk.

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