LEGAL STATUS OF RELIGIOUS MINORITIES IN UKRAINE AND MONITORING THE OPERATION OF LAWS IN THE CONTEXT OF RELIGIOUS MINORITIES

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Maksym Vasin
Executive Director of the Institute for Religious Freedom, PhD in Constitutional Law
In order to take into account the interests and peculiarities of religious minorities, as well as their better integration into the religious and social life of Ukrainian society, prevent their marginalization and activities in the shadows (on the verge of law) in the absence of the possibility of state registration or its significant complication as a legal entity it is proposed to consider the following recommendations for improving Ukraine’s legislation and the practice of its application:
  1. To develop and adopt comprehensive amendments to the procedure for state registration of religious organizations as a legal entity and the procedure for amending information on them in the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, Individual Entrepreneurs, and Public Associations, which should include the following:
    • to implement fully the “single window” principle by harmonizing the provisions of Articles 12 – 16 of the Law of Ukraine “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations” with the Law of Ukraine “On State Registration of Legal Entities, Individuals – Entrepreneurs, and Public Associations” and the Law of Ukraine “On Administrative services” (including a single and exhaustive list of documents submitted for registration, the procedure for their submission and deadlines);
    • to remove from Article 12 of the Law of Ukraine “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations” provisions that require the inclusion in the statute (regulations) of a religious organization information about its location;
    • to determine in the Law of Ukraine “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations” the procedure for carrying out expert examination and an exhaustive list of cases in which it is appointed, as well as to remove the provisions of paragraph 34 of Article 14 of the Law on the possibility of applying to the local authorities and specialists for conclusions on the applicant”;
    • to remove from Article 14 of the Law of Ukraine “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations” provisions that require the submission to the registering authority of lists of participants in the general meeting of the religious community.
  1. To develop and adopt comprehensive amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Alternative (Non-Military) Service” and Resolutions of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine of November 10, 1999 # 2066, which should provide for the following:
    • abolishing the List of religious organizations whose beliefs do not allow the use of weapons, which is an appendix to the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine dated 10.11.1999 # 2066;
    • removing provisions that limit the constitutional right of Ukrainian citizens to substitute military service for alternative (non-military) service with additional requirements, such as membership in religious organizations of a particular religion or membership in religious organizations in general;
    • replacing the procedure for referral to alternative (non-military) service, substituting the requirement for early submission of a written application (not later than two calendar months before the start of the statutory period of conscription for military service) for the requirement to submit such application no later than the seventh day the moment of receiving the summons for conscription for military service;
    • determining the procedure for referral to alternative (non-military) service during mobilization, including in the Law of Ukraine “On Mobilization Training and Mobilization”.
  1. To develop and adopt amendments to the Land Code of Ukraine, which provide:
    • giving religious organizations the right to acquire land plots for non-profit purposes (amend Article 82 of the Code);
    • exempting religious organizations from having to pay rent for the land they use during the processing of their applications for re-registration of such land for permanent use.
  1. To elaborate on providing the military, staff and patients of medical institutions, staff and prisoners in the penitentiary system with the opportunity to eat in accordance with their religious beliefs (vegetarian, kosher, halal menu).
  1. To pay attention to the issue of religious clothing and head coverings when developing requirements for the appearance of representatives of different professions, in order to remove, if possible, barriers to access to these types of professional activities of members of religious minorities. This will require government agencies, institutions, agencies and educational institutions to introduce a different approach to regulation in these areas that are more sensitive to the characteristics of religious minorities.

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