ADC Memorial and The Right to Protection participated in the World Conference on Statelessness in the Hage

Speaking at the panel “Shifting borders: statelessness in the context of changes of sovereignity” experts from ADC Memorial and The Right to Protection presented a new Human Rights report “Stateless in Russia and Ukraine: possible ways to overcom the problem”.

In the report, the situation of stateless persons in Russia and Ukraine is analysed: people originated from ex-Soviet countries can not be legalized; Roma living in Russia can’t return to the country of origin – Ukraine; inhabitants of Eastern Ukraine face challenges related to their citizenship. The story of Anna Lakatosh and Aladar Forkosh serves as a mirror of the problem – they are Roma from Ukraine, applicants to the ECHR who in 2010 received big compensations fom the Russian Federation but they do not have legal status so far.

After almost 10 years after the recognition of violation of the European Convention by the ECHR in the case “Lakatosh and others vs Russia” these very people remain undocumented stateless persons – this fact confirms that the problems of statelessness, whose roots reach way back into the past, have yet to be overcome in either Russia or Ukraine. The laws and practices of both countries are unfriendly to stateless persons, most of whom are citizens of the former Soviet Union. Currently, dozens thousands people do not have legal status while more 25 years passed since dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the goal of the global campaign by the UNCHR is to overcome the problem of statelessness by 2024. Ukraine now faces the challenges of adapting laws and practice to the Convention Relating to the Status and of Stateless Persons (1954) and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1961).

Russia who agreed with recommendations made within the framework of the Universal Periodic Review (2018) concerning accession to these Conventions, must implement the ECtHR’s strategic judgment in the case of “Kim v. Russia” and the subsequent RF Constitutional Court judgment in the case of Mskhiladze. In the absence of general measures, systemic violations of the rights of stateless persons continue. These include the practices of confining stateless persons in foreign national temporary detention centers for an indefinite period without judicial control and of ordering expulsions that cannot be enforced.

Both countries must adopt urgent positive measures to improve the situation of the Roma minority, including in relation to documentation.

The matter of the citizenship of residents of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts who are now governed by the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR is particularly critical in light of the military conflict. Russian passports issued to residents of these territories under simplified procedures are not recognized by Ukraine and will likely be boycotted by other countries as well. This means that holders of these passports may be deprived of their Ukrainian citizenship. Children born in these territories who do not have any documents other than the ones issued by the de facto authorities are now hostage to this situation.