Joint Declaration of Cultural Alliance of Hungarians in Sub-Carpathia and Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Ukraine related to the planned amendments of the Law on National 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 Cultural Alliance of Hungarians in Sub-Carpathia Association and the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Ukraine support the efforts to amend the Law on National Minorities (Communities) in Ukraine and to expand the rights of minorities. However, we consider it unfair that the proposed amendments to the law were not sent to us until immediately before the meeting, making it impossible to carry out an in-depth legal analysis of the law or to draft and submit substantive proposals for changes. For our part, we regret that none of the constructive proposals we had previously submitted during the almost year-long debate on the Minorities Act have been included in the amendment. It is also regrettable that the adoption of the amendment, scheduled for mid-September, will not allow for a substantive debate or the submission of properly grounded proposals, given the short deadlines.
The amendment to the draft law was drafted by the State Service of Ukraine on Ethnopolitical and Freedom of Conscience (as the supreme executive body competent in this matter) and the Supreme Council of Ukraine’s Committee on Human Rights, Deoccupation and Reintegration of Occupied Territories of Ukraine, Issues of National Minorities and Interethnic Relations, and the amendment was submitted just one day before the public debate (8 August).
Most of the amendment consists of merely declarative additions, some of which are duplications of other legal documents. The amendment refers to undefined concepts that are of little relevance to the enforcement of the law, while allowing for arbitrary interpretation.
The amendment as drafted by the legislative body does not take into account the Council of Europe Recommendation 1201. Thus, for example, if the amendment is adopted, an important criterion for the definition of national minorities, i.e. that their representatives “traditionally live on the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders”, could be deleted from Article 1 of the Law. Consequently, all citizens of Ukraine who are not ethnic Ukrainians (or members of indigenous peoples) will be included in the category of national minorities. In our view, several passages of the draft are discriminatory and violate fundamental human rights. We therefore recommend that they be revised and/or deleted.
Taken as a whole, the proposed amendment does not restore all the rights of minorities guaranteed by the Constitution of Ukraine, nor does it serve to restore the minority rights that earlier were protected.
Uzhhorod, 10 August 2023.
Dr. László Brenzovics,
President Cultural Alliance of Hungarians in Sub-Carpathia
Dr. László Zubánics,
President Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Ukraine