KMKSZ and UMDSZ Issue Joint Statement on the Planned Amendment of the Law

On August 10, the Cultural Alliance of Hungarians in Sub-Carpathia (KMKSZ) and the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Ukraine (UMDSZ) released a joint statement expressing “support for efforts to amend the Law on National Minorities (Communities) in Ukraine and to expand the rights of minorities in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission and the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.”

The organizations raise objections to the procedural aspect of the proposed amendment. Specifically, the motion was introduced shortly before the debate, which prevented them from conducting a thorough legal analysis, crafting substantive proposals, or engaging in meaningful communication.

In addition, they express regret that none of the constructive recommendations they made during the nearly one-year deliberation period prior to the adoption of the Law were included in the amendment. Moreover, the amendment is slated to be adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament in mid-September leaving no time for substantive discussion nor to submit well-substantiated recommendations.

As regards the substance of the proposed amendment[1], the statement points out problems with the content, specifically

  • the mere declaratory nature of additions, some of which duplicate other legal documents,
  • the use of undefined concepts with little relevance to the enforcement of the law yet allowing for arbitrary interpretation, and
  • failure to consider Council of Europe Recommendation No. 1201, namely, that an important criterion for the definition of national minorities is that their representatives “traditionally live on the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders,” would be deleted from Article 1 of the Law, if adopted. Consequently, all citizens of Ukraine who are not ethnic Ukrainians (or members of indigenous peoples) would be included in the category of national minorities.
  • In their view, several passages of the draft are discriminatory and violate fundamental human rights, and they, therefore, recommend revision and/or deletion.

Dr. László Brenzovics, president of KMKSZ, and Dr. László Zubánics, president of UMDSZ, conclude by stating that “as a whole, the proposed amendment does not restore all the rights of minorities guaranteed by the Constitution of Ukraine, and moreover, it does not serve to restore the minority rights that existed previously.”

[1] The amendment was drafted by the State Service of Ukraine on Ethnopolitical and Freedom of Conscience Issues (as the supreme executive body competent in this matter) and the Committee of the Supreme Council of Ukraine on Human Rights, De-Occupation and Reintegration of Occupied Territories of Ukraine, National Minorities and Interethnic Relations; and sent one day before the public debate on August 8th.

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