The new draft law on the status of Crimea could destabilise the situation in South-Eastern Ukraine
On 1 April, 2014, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is to vote on the adoption of the Law ‘On the rights and freedoms of citizens in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine’. Some provisions of the new law raise serious concerns among human rights activists. If they are adopted, the Crimea will become completely isolated from the rest of Ukraine. There is reason to believe that this could destabilise the situation in South-Eastern Ukraine.
The main concern was raised by the following provisions of the draft law:
- Restriction of freedom of movement in the temporarily occupied territory (Article 6). For citizens of Ukraine, foreigners and stateless persons, entering and leaving the temporarily occupied territory shall be only possible with special permission.
- Features of economic activities (Article 8). On the temporarily occupied territory, economic activities subject to state regulation (licensing, permits, certification) shall be prohibited. It shall be also prohibited to organise rail, road, sea, river, ferry and air connections.
- Collaborationist activities (Article 10). Any cooperation with the occupying authorities shall be considered treason andentail criminal liability.
The Open Dialog Foundation hereby warns Ukrainian authorities against adopting the Law ‘On ensuring the rights and freedoms of citizens in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine’ in the current reading, as it can have irreversible consequences and lead to a humanitarian catastrophe in the occupied territories.
Ukraine recognises Crimea as its territory and therefore should not isolate residents of the peninsula from itself and the rest of the world. This may lead to further destabilisation of the situation, also in south-eastern regions of Ukraine. Decisions on such complex issues should be made taking into account national interests and rights of the population of the occupied territories.
We believe that this draft law should go through additional stages of public debate and be subjected to public consultation of experts. Also, it must be submitted for assessment of the Venice Commission. It is only after these procedures that the draft law can be put to vote in Parliament.
The competent authorities of the EU, OSCE and missions of the EU (embassies) in Ukraine should warn the authorities of the country against making hasty decisions pertaining to the legislative initiative regarding the Crimea.