The UN has published a report on the human rights situation in Ukraine on eve of the elections named “Public space and fundamental freedoms on the eve of the presidential, parliamentary and local elections in Ukraine”. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights prepared it. The report was about the violation of rights and freedoms of the religious people, who belong to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The informational department of the church published the document.
The UN notes that the autocephaly has sharpened confrontations among the orthodox in Ukraine. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine is a victim mostly.
“Over the reporting period, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recorded ten cases when clergy and worshippers the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (of Moscow Patriarchate) were threatened or intimidated. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is concerned about the fact that the existing political environment create tensions which have negative effect on the freedom of religion and beliefs, with possible adverse effects on the other human rights, including the right for freedom of thought and expression, on the eve of elections,” the document says.
It was noted that in November 2018, after the Ukrainian Orthodox Church refused to join the newly created Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) opened a number of criminal cases under the accusation of incitement to religious hatred.
“At least in one case, the accusation was complemented by accusations of state treason. However, no charges were served. In this regard, SBU searched the premises of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and houses of the religious dignitaries. SBU has questioned the religious dignitaries in different regions of Ukraine. Those who were questioned stated that such actions have resulted in pressure. Besides, they said that despite the absence of direct threats or coercion, they regard these actions as attempts to influence their position concerning the autocephaly,” the report says.
The law enforcers recalled a forceful renaming of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church emphasizing the fact that this church was implicit in the discriminatory law.
The UN considers the law on military chaplain, which bans the priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to serve in the army a violation.
“The Parliament has also adopted the restrictions on access of the priests of such organizations to the premises of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the virtue of the national security. This contradicts the article No 18(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) as national security is not an acceptable reason for limiting freedom of religion or beliefs,” the document says.
To improve the security of the fundamental freedoms, including the upcoming elections, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recommends the government of Ukraine to “fulfil the international commitments within human rights sector, which means not only provide a right to practice their religion or beliefs, but also take effective measures to provide absence of discrimination”.