Bishop Victor reports violation of UOC believers’ rights at UN Forum
The hierarch attended the 3rd Session of the UN Forum "Equal Access to Justice for All: A Necessary Element of Democracy, Rule of Law and Protection of Human Rights."
On November 16, 2021, at the UN Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law, the Head of the Representation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to European International Organizations, Bishop Victor (Kotsaba) of Baryshivka stated that the rights of UOC believers had been violated. This was reported by the Information and Education Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The two-day UN Forum is being held in Geneva in a mixed (face-to-face and remote) format, with the participation of President of the Human Rights Council Najat Shamim Khan, High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, delegations from UN member states, international human rights organizations and the media.
In his speech, Bishop Victor stated that more than 12,000 religious organizations of the UOC may be deprived of the opportunity to effectively defend their rights in courts because of the so-called law "on renaming". Currently, religious organizations are encountering a number of obstacles by introducing corrections to state registers, and it is now common that believers are unable to exercise their legal rights.
These facts, the hierarch noted, indicate the continued discriminatory policies against the UOC by certain state authorities, which restricts the rights of believers to profess their faith in religious communities with a name that has been historical and legally established since 1990. There is also a threat that UOC religious organizations will be stripped of the right to legal recourse if the provisions on the partial invalidity of statutes are applied in practice.
The bishop added that all this is part of a unified policy that facilitates raids on UOC churches and provokes violence, conflict and enmity in society.
In addition, a significant lingering problem is an insufficient response of law enforcement agencies to numerous complaints on the violation of the rights of UOC believers, who are often forced to demand the opening of criminal proceedings in court for violations of their rights. The fact of improper investigation of criminal proceedings opened on the statements of UOC believers has already been recognized at the international level, as stated by the UN Human Rights Committee in its decision of November 11, 2021.
In conclusion, Bishop Victor called on the international community to continue to pay attention to ensuring and protecting the legal rights of UOC believers in Ukraine to eliminate violations of the rights and discriminatory policies finally.
It will be recalled that on November 12, the hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church took part in a joint meeting of the OSCE and the United Nations.