Nemyria: Ukraine’s Cabinet not complying with adopted law on missing persons

Дата: 13 March 2019
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For over half a year, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has not been complying with the provisions of the Law of Ukraine “On the Legal Status of Missing Persons”, which was adopted in August last year and was supposed to regulate the search for people and provide assistance to the families of missing persons.

Head of the Ukrainian Parliament Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and Interethnic Relations Hryhoriy Nemyria made a corresponding statement at the Committee’s meeting, a Human Rights Information Centre correspondent reports.

Almost 2,000 people can be considered missing in Ukraine

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed the relevant law in July 2018, taking into account the proposals of human rights defenders in the document. In particular, since then it has been decided that one gets a missing person status from the moment of filing an application about the fact of his or her disappearance and search, which should be based on a court ruling. The parliamentarians decided that acquiring of the relevant status does not reduce the civil legal capacity of such a person, a workplace and position are retained. At the same time, a missing person, who was authorized to perform the functions of the state, retains the average earnings at an enterprise, institution or organization, regardless of subordination. In addition, the persons, who have gone missing during the active service due to the armed conflict or hostilities, are provided with the guarantees, which are stipulated, in particular, in the Law of Ukraine “On Social and Legal Protection of Military Personnel and Members of their Families.”

Another important provision of the law was the establishment of a special commission on missing persons under the Cabinet of Ministers, which should become a permanent consultative and advisory body and ensure the coordination of activities of the government agencies authorized to record and search for such people, in particular, in the area of conduct of the anti-terrorist operation in the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Iryna Gerashchenko, the Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Peaceful Settlement of the Conflict in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, touched upon the establishment of the commission in August last year. The commission membership was expected to include the representatives of the National Police of Ukraine, the Security Service of Ukraine, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights. The Ukrainian Parliament Committee on Human Rights delegated two of their members to the commission.

However, according to Nemyria, the implementation of the law has not made any progress yet seven months after its adoption.

“The relevant institutions, stipulated in this law, were to be created by November 2. In particular, the commission on missing persons (it membership and statute had to be approved), the register of missing persons, etc. In December last year, the committee sent an inquiry and an appeal to Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, asking the Cabinet of Ministers to provide the information on the progress of implementation of these provisions. It was provided, but given that, according to our data, actually nothing has been done for more than four months after that, we have sent a repeated inquiry already in March of this year. As of today, we have not received an answer yet.”

Some missing people may not be alive, but relatives want to know about their fate

The representatives of the relevant ministries were invited to the committee meeting, where the issue of implementation of the law was considered, but neither representatives of the Cabinet nor representatives of the ministries at the level of heads or deputies came.

We were told about some progress in the implementation of the law back in December, about some papers that come and go from the ministries, but nothing actually happens,” Hryhoriy Nemyria resented.

The relatives of servicemen and volunteers, who went missing near Ilovaisk, came to the committee meeting to hear the officials’ answers. They are displeased with inaction of the government.

The committee put forward a proposal to conduct an official investigation into the inaction of government officials and write an open letter to Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman with a detailed report of the situation and the stance of relatives of missing persons, which will be published in the Holos Ukrainy parliamentary newspaper.

REFERENCE. There is still no accurate data on the number of missing persons in Ukraine. According to Iryna Gerashchenko, the President’s Commissioner for Peaceful Settlement of the Conflict in Donetsk region and Luhansk region, the representatives of Ukraine during the negotiations in Minsk use the list prepared by the joint center of the Security Service of Ukraine.

There are 294 missing people, including civilians, on the list. The NGO “Peaceful Coast”, dealing with the search for missing people, has data on 1,288 people, while the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reports on 1,500 people, who have gone missing during the military conflict in Ukraine. About a thousand bodies of people, which were already buried or are in morgues, have not been identified. In turn, the experts are convinced that the number of unidentified bodies will increase as the searches are still ongoing.

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