Human rights defenders report violations of UOC believers’ rights in the UN

The 45th session of the UNHRC is being held in Geneva. Photo:

The NGO "Public Advocacy" highlighted the facts of violations against communities and believers of the UOC at the regular session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC).

During the 45th regular session of the UNHRC, which is held in Geneva from September 14 to October 7, 2020, representatives of the NGO "Public Advocacy" reported the violations of UOC believers’ rights, according to the website of the NGO "Public Advocacy".

Human rights defenders stated that despite the change of power and some decrease in the intensity of church seizures, violations against the communities and believers of the UOC continue, previously seized churches have not been returned, and those responsible for crimes against the believers have not been brought to justice.

In addition, they cited the law on forced renaming of UOC religious organizations, which remains in force despite national and international criticism.

They also stated that for three consecutive years the Ukrainian authorities had failed to carry out registration actions in relation to the statutes of 13 eparchies and monasteries of the UOC, "as a result of which these religious organizations are effectively deprived of legal personality and cannot dispose of their property, formalize land plots, or exercise other rights.

Human rights activists also pointed to the continuation of inciting religious hatred towards the believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, especially in the run-up to the local elections, and an indicative case in this regard is the attacks on the priest of the UOC in Zolochiv, Lviv region, where "the head of the city council assisted in committing offences, and radical organizations publicly destroyed the fence around the priest's house”.

Representatives of the NGO "Public Advocacy" in their statement stressed that the above mentioned and many other problems in Ukraine "have long been of a systemic nature and require not only inclusion in information reports and statements of UN committees and commissions, but also a substantive response, as it was, for example, in the case of eviction of a religious organization of the UOC in Ivano-Frankivsk”.

The human rights organization's website explained that at present "the UN, as well as its agencies and structures, remains the only and non-alternative platform for protecting the rights of victims in cases where the offender is the state”.

"Therefore, in order to protect any target group of victims, it is necessary to constantly promote on the agenda of UN structures, OSCE and other similar organizations both the information on facts of rights violations in this or that area and data on the response of authorities to the protection at the national level. A complex of such actions, often carried out in the long term, can put a situation on the agenda of the UN structures as requiring special attention," the report says.

Earlier Oleg Denisov, head of the NGO “Public Advocacy”, explained that UN decisions are binding.

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