Recommendations for State Service of Ukraine for Ethnopolitics and freedom of conscience on the areas of improvement of state-denominational and inter- denominational relations

титаренко
Vita Tytarenko
Religious Studies Researcher of Project

Doctor of Philosophy
Professor
Senior Researcher of the Department of Religious Studies H.Skovoroda Institute of Philosophy the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

As the realization of the rights and freedoms of religious minority (further RM) requires cooperation of experts, public servants, mass media and representatives of religious minority, the following consolidated recommendations on improving the state-confessional and interfaith relations are proposed to the State Service of Ukraine for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience. 

 Regulatory level

  • To intensify work on the Concept of State-Religious Relations, developing conceptual principles on which the state will ensure the realization of rights and freedoms of religious minorities in all spheres of public life, with the involvement of representatives of line ministries and departments, specialists of the National Institute for Strategic Studies, H. Skovoroda Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, experts from non-governmental think tanks, representatives of religious organizations;
  • to develop a Code of Minority Rights (based on the 1992 UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities) together with representatives of the religious expert community to implement formal and de facto equality between religious minorities and religious majority;
  • to increase the level of education of the population, in particular young people, on the multi-religious specifics of Ukraine, to initiate the introduction of religion study disciplines in the secondary and high schools through the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine;
  • being aware of the importance of preserving the historical and cultural heritage of RM (synagogues, madrassas, mosques, sacred places of prayer, burial, etc.), appeal to the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine to strengthen legal liability for the use of Ukrainian religious holy sites, sacred things, prominent religious buildings, spiritual, literary and artistic values, etc (with its further legislative consolidation);
  • to apply to the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine with a proposal to redistribute the information space, taking into account the representation of RM in it for their self-presentation;
  • to partnership between institutions of state power and RM on a contractual basis (with the Ministries of Education, Culture and Information Policy, Social Policy, Defense and agencies);
  • to take a legislative initiative to strengthen the responsibility for cases of defamation – the dissemination of false information that degrades honor and dignity and damages the business reputation of RM;
  • to develop and submit to the Parliament a bill on regulating the activities of non-governmental rehabilitation centers for alcohol and drug addicts, which are cared for by religious minority in Ukraine, as well as on changes in legislation on alcohol and drug addicts to provide them with further assistance in rehabilitation centers.

 State and public level

  • To increase the representation of religious organizations involved in national and public events with representatives of religious minority;
  • to promote the dialogue of leaders (representatives) of religious minority and representatives of religious majority to overcome contradictions and develop mutually beneficial cooperation in social, educational and other projects;
  • to communicate with religious minority and monitor cases of violations and / or oppression of their rights and freedoms at various levels (national, regional, local).

 Expert-advisory level

  • To legally substantiate the grounds, the authorized circle of persons, the procedure and conditions for conducting a religious expertise;
  • intensify the work of the advisory body, that is the Expert Council on Freedom of Conscience, with the opportunity to study with the results of experts’ analytical work;
  • create an open register of religious communities (including RM) with key information, based on the database collected under this project;
  • to improve the annual reporting, provide mechanisms for verifying the compliance of registered statutes of RM with existing religious communities;
  • increase cooperation with religious experts to jointly develop criteria for classifying religious communities in the “Others” category in reports on the network of churches and religious organizations in Ukraine, expand the report through analytical support with detailing the “Others” category;
  • provide expert and advisory legal support to RM on the registration of statutes by improving and supplementing information on the procedure for registration of religious communities on the principle of transparency (indicating the responsible person, contacts, status of documents, reasons for refusal, etc.);
  • develop unified methodological recommendations for local authorities on the registration of religious organizations;
  • to increase the professional level of civil servants to intensify cooperation with experts (lawyers, scholars of the religion, journalists, theologians, etc.), jointly develop a strategy for improving public administration and its implementation through various forms of education – lectures, seminars, trainings, etc .;
  • to prevent discrimination against RM, to recommend the implementation of state policy in the field of religion on the ground without preferences to certain religious organizations, in particular in matters of land acquisition, rent, maintenance and preservation of religious buildings, religious needs, etc.

Information level

  • To update the state information policy on the activities of RM in society (using the media content created during the project);
  • keeping in mind the cultural and religious peculiarities of RM, during the implementation of the state policy in the field of religion to encourage RM to participate in regular dialogues, with the involvement of religious experts, to discuss society’s current issues;
  • to increase the level of tolerance in the regions and prevent possible tensions in interreligious relations, to promote the formation and more active involvement in the solution of problematic issues of advisory associations of the regional and local levels;
  • to overcome the tendencies of social isolationism among RM in order to expand educational activities, with the involvement of religious experts, to inform the local population about the peculiarities of the minorities present in their territory.

This is for religious organizations and their associations to:

  • intensify the creation and work of inter-religious associations of different levels – all-Ukrainian, regional, local (both on a permanent and situational basis, for example, to respond to cases of violation of religious rights and freedoms of RM);
  • step up cooperation with the mass media to prevent tendencies of isolationism and distortion of information about RM, thanks to which to quickly record their activities, objectively inform the society about the peculiarities (religious, ritual, socially effective, etc.) of RM;
  • be more actively involved in the work of advisory bodies of various levels (all-Ukrainian, regional, local);
  • consolidate the efforts of RM in the implementation of interreligious social, volunteer, educational programs, etc .;
  • to increase the level of legal literacy of RM faithful in the field of ensuring the rights and freedoms of religious organizations;
  • organize and establish cooperation between religious and secular educational institutions (through joint activities, participation in projects, inviting guest lecturers, etc.) to overcome existing stereotypes of students in the field of religious life, to establish tolerant relations between representatives of different religions and worldviews.

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