Migrants in Ukraine receive right to free legal aid

Дата: 30 June 2016
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A number of significant changes concerning protection of migrants’ rights has been introduced in the Ukrainian legislation. In particular, migrants in Ukraine have been given the right to free legal aid, and detention term in special centers has been reduced. Moreover, the court now may rule to impose alternative measures, including taking charge by organization or bailment.

These changes have been enacted as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed the law on amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine concerning improvement of legal protection of foreigners and persons without citizenship and settlement of certain issues related to illegal migration.

As commented by Borys Zakharov, the Director of the Advocacy Center at the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (UHHRU), the law provides the guarantees of judicial protection for foreigners and stateless persons.

Earlier, everything was solved by administrative procedure resulting in numerous violations of human rights. For example, a foreigner or a stateless person was placed in the centre of temporary stay of foreigners and stateless persons to further deport them or establish their identity, and there were no alternatives. Now it will be determined by the Administrative Court.

These people will get the right to free legal aid, and alternative measures can be applied,” Borys Zakharov said.

The State Migration Service of Ukraine draws attention to the changes in the law on duration of stay in the centers of temporary stay of foreigners and stateless persons.

We have drastically changed the detention term in the centers of temporary stay of foreigners. On the one hand, we reduced them. On the other hand, we identified certain cases which give us the right to increase duration,” Natalia Naumenko, the Director of Department for Foreigners and Stateless Persons said.

The previous time limit of detention of illegal migrants was 12 months, now it is only 6 months. However, if a foreigner is not going to cooperate in establishing his/her identity or documents are expected to come from the country of origin, the duration of detention can be extended for another 12 months.

Another aspect of the new law stipulates that now the court will review the case of each migrant. Thus there is the administrative supervision of the effectiveness of procedures for identifying migrants by the authorities.

As for migrant themselves, the representatives of the State Migration Service guarantee their security. They can go to court, present evidence, the court can consider their case, soften the terms of detention, review of reasons for detention is also possible. Also, foreigners and stateless persons have the opportunity to receive legal assistance.

Another innovation of the law is that the court has now the opportunity to impose alternative measures, including bailment and taking charge by an organization.

The adoption of this law was one of the EU requirements in the context of visa dialogue, so it is expected that the amendments should adapt domestic legislation to EU practices.

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