Does government permit discrimination against IDPs?
Since February 19, 2016, I have been receiving the reports from the NGOs and public initiatives dealing with the help to internally displaced persons on the mass cancelations of certificates of registration of internally displaced persons in an “automatic mode.”
According to the activists, since February 18, the departments for labor and social protection have started to receive the lists of persons drawn up by the Security Service of Ukraine and the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, containing information about the people who have to be removed from the register of the internally displaced persons because of the fact that they allegedly reside in the temporarily uncontrolled territory of Ukraine. Social Policy Minister of Ukraine Pavlo Rozenko publicly confirmed the presence of such lists on February 19. He said that the Ministry in cooperation with the Security Service of Ukraine had been actively working on “elimination of fraudulent schemes associated with the payments to IDPs” during the last three months.
The worst expectations were confirmed by Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk on the air of the TV channels on February 21, saying that the payments to nearly 150,000 people had been abolished for the last month as, according to the Head of Government, those people were not migrants but scammers.
In addition, it should be emphasized that no member of the Cabinet, including the Prime Minister, attended the parliamentary hearings on the protection of the rights of the internally displaced persons and the citizens of Ukraine residing in the temporarily occupied territory, which took place on February 17 this year. Perhaps they were afraid of meeting with the IDPs and giving answers to their direct questions.
The reports of the IDPs give grounds to speak about the hundreds of thousands of citizens who are being excluded from the informational base of the IDPs unreasonably and without notification and the effect of their certificates “stops.” Such actions of employees of the labor and social protection bodies directly contradict the Constitution of Ukraine and the law of Ukraine on ensuring the rights and freedoms of the internally displaced persons.
First, the procedure for termination of validity of an IDP certificate has never been stipulated in the Ukrainian legislation, and therefore the relevant actions of the labor and social protection bodies and the orders or instructions of the Social Policy Ministry are illegal.
Second, the exceptional list of reasons, for which a certificate may be terminated, is set forth in Part 1 of Article 12 of the law. It also specifies the appropriate procedure for termination, which does not provide for interference of the Ukrainian Security Service in work of the social protection bodies.In addition, the representatives of the Government silence two very important points in their public statements.
In addition, the representatives of the Government silence two very important points in their public statements.
Eighteen months ago, the Government was required to elaborate and launch the unified informational database of the internally displaced persons. The requirement was enshrined in the legislation of Ukraine. Such a database would make impossible the misuse of public funds and the fraudulent schemes of receiving the state financial aid intended solely to the internally displaced persons, i.e. it would make impossible the things the Cabinet of Ministers is fighting against.
The public requires the launch of the informational database for almost half a year, and the international organizations that provide assistance to Ukraine have repeatedly noted this. However, we still have no such database. Instead, for almost two years already, there is an imitation of the register of IDPs which exists without any act approved by the competent authority. That is, for nearly two years already, the Cabinet of Ministers, knowing the demands of the public and the international organizations, has been spending budget funds to finance the fraudulent schemes, as it claims. It was decided to use the outdated Soviet-regime methods of solving problems instead of the introduction of a transparent, efficient, modern mechanism of registration of the internally displaced persons and their needs. According to the Social Policy Minister, the Security Service of Ukraine during three months was compiling the lists of the persons suspected in exercising their constitutional right to freedom of movement within the country.
The second point. Everyone knows perfectly well that absolutely all types of state social assistance and pensions are paid to the internally displaced persons only if they have a valid certificate of registration as IDP, according to the order of the Government of Ukraine dated November 5, 2014 No. 637 “On payment of social benefits to the persons who move from the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine and the regions of conduct of the anti-terrorist operation”. Hence, the massive “termination” of the certificates will lead to termination of payments of pensions to pensioners, benefits to single mothers and people with disabilities. However, these miserly payments are actually the only source of income for these people.
One can only imagine the state of a person with a disability or a single mother with a small child, who have been once again forced to stand for hours in the lines to the district social protection departments to restore a wrongly canceled IDP certificate and then to resume wrongly suspended welfare payments due to the inability of the government managers to run the state effectively.
The Prime Minister has already said about 150,000 of certificates canceled above the procedure. What a figure will we get tomorrow? What a number of pensioners, IDPs will be left without means of support?
Such actions of the Government are the serious violation of Article 46 of the Constitution of Ukraine, which guarantees the citizens of Ukraine the right to social protection. Therefore, the actions of the Social Policy Ministry of Ukraine, which actually abandons the commitments to the citizens on behalf of the state, are a crime against the Ukrainian people.
Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian families, who are losing the faith in the new Ukraine and the belief that their own country needs them, are at the back of every such decision.
I ask the Government of Ukraine:
- To immediately stop the practice of cancelling the action of IDP certificates on the grounds of data provided by the Security Service of Ukraine and other subjects of power, not provided for by the Law of Ukraine “On Ensuring the Rights and Freedoms of the Internally Displaced Persons”;
- To create a single information database of the internally displaced persons and to approve the relevant regulations;
- To set clear, precise rules to confirm the information that provides reasonable grounds to believe that the internally displaced person has returned to the deserted place of permanent residence or has left for permanent residence abroad, in accordance with the Law of Ukraine “On Ensuring the Rights and Freedoms of the Internally Displaced Persons.”
Hryhoriy Nemyria, the Chair of the Committee on Human Rights of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the deputy chair of the Batkivshchyna Party