European Commission against Racism and Intolerance: Ukraine failed to implement priority recommendations

In 2017 the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) addressed 19 general and two priority recommendations concerning ​​combating racism and intolerance to the Ukrainian authorities. The Commission recently came to the conclusion that its urgent recommendations, which had addressed the situation of the LGBTI+ persons and the country’s Roma minority, were not been implemented over the past three years.

The Ukrainian authorities failed to add sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) to the list of protected characteristics of Article 161 of the Criminal Code (“Violation of equality of citizens”), and also did not include grounds for committing hate crimes on the basis of SOGI to the list of aggravating circumstances (Article 67 of the Criminal Code), despite the fact that the latter had been outlined in Ukraine’s Action Plan for the Implementation of the National Human Rights Strategy. The amendments to the Criminal Code, which came into force on October 31, 2019, have included gender to the list featured in Article 67. However, as was noted by the Commission’s experts, this applied only to the gender aspect and did not apply to SOGI, which was not in line with the Commission’s recommendation.

Lawyer Oksana Guz’, an expert on SOGI, believes that one of the main reasons for the ineffective protection of the rights of LGBTI+ persons in Ukraine under the criminal law is the imperfection of the legal framework and the lack of changes that would facilitate both the proper qualification and pre-trial investigation of hate crimes.

The second priority recommendation dealt with the abolition of court fees when Roma people apply to court in order to obtain personal documents. ECRI indicated that the existing legislation provided for deferred payment of court fees and was ineffective for Roma people, as the latter were required to provide documents proving their inability to pay the fees. Experts were not able to find any judicial practice concerning such cases.

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has earlier drawn attention to the need to simplify the procedure for obtaining personal documents for Roma people.