Ukraine country briefing highlights ways to improve statelessness law, policy and practice

11 Dec 2018 / Detention / International and Regional Instruments / Prevention and reduction / Statelessness determination and status / Statelessness population data / Ukraine

The Statelessness Index is an online comparative tool that assesses European countries’ law, policy and practice on the protection of stateless people and the prevention and reduction of statelessness against international norms and good practice. The European Network on Statelessness has partnered with one of its members, Desyate Kvitnya (The Tenth of April) to research and compile comparative information on statelessness in Ukraine.

Destyate Kvitnya (The Tenth of April) is an independent, humanitarian, non-governmental and non-profit organisation based in Odessa, Ukraine, which provides free legal aid and social assistance to asylum seekers, refugees, internally displaced people, stateless individuals and Roma people. 

A new country briefing available in both English and Ukrainian, summarises the Index's findings on how Ukrainian law, policy and practice performs against international norms and good practice on the protection of stateless persons and the prevention and reduction of statelessness. It covers five thematic areas – International and Regional Instruments, Stateless Population Data, Statelessness Determination and Status, Detention, and Prevention and Reduction – and makes a series of recommendations to the Ukrainian Government for reform in priority areas. 

Summary of briefing’s key findings and recommendations

Although Ukraine has acceded to almost all the relevant international and regional instruments, the mechanisms for ensuring the rights of stateless persons and reduction of statelessness have not been established. Data on the stateless population is contested and limited, with overlapping categories and discrepancies between sources. The Ukranian definition of a stateless person is also narrower than the 1954 Convention definition, and whilst Ukraine does have a dedicated stateless status where individuals have the right to residence, work, social security, housing, education and medical care, there is no formal dedicated procedure to identify or determine statelessness.

Protections against the arbitrary detention of stateless people are limited. For example, a proposed country of removal does not need to be identified prior to removal. There are legal safeguards in Ukrainian nationality law to prevent statelessness in the case of foundlings, adopted children and children born to Ukrainian nationals abroad, however, the eligibility of children born on the territory who would otherwise be stateless depends on the status of their parents. Barriers to birth registration also increase the risk of statelessness, particularly affecting Ukraine's Roma population. 

To improve the protections of stateless people in Ukraine and reduce and prevent statelessness, the briefing recommends that the Government should comply with the regional and international standards it has accepted, establish a dedicated statelessness determination procedure in line with good practice, and ensure the confirmation and acquisition of citizenship of people in the temporarily occupied territories. The government should amend legislation so that stateless individuals are fully protected from arbitrary and unlawful detention, and children born on the territory who would otherwise be stateless are guaranteed citizenship. The government should simplify administrative procedures to remove birth registration barriers faced by Roma communities, and create a reliable source of information on the stateless population in Ukraine to inform policies and prevent statelessness. 

By summarising the key information and findings from the Index and giving a set of concrete recommendations, this briefing can be used as a resource at the national and regional level to advocate for improved law, policies and practices relating to statelessness in Ukraine.

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