Government creates special Authority for ethnic policy and freedom of conscience
The Cabinet of Ministers has created an authorized central executive Authority for ethnic policy and freedom of conscience in the form of a public office.
The Government made this decision at a meeting on Wednesday, June 12, 2019, according to the Institute of Religious Freedom.
The Public Office of Ukraine for Ethnic Policy and Freedom of Conscience will be coordinated by the Cabinet of Ministers through the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, and its human resources and material and technical support will be drawn upon those of the current Department for Religions and Nationalities under the Ministry of Culture.
This decision was preceded by consultations of the government with the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations.
Simultaneously, members of the AUCCRO noted that frequent reorganizations of the state body for religious affairs do not contribute to its effective work, and the proposals of international partners of Ukraine, which each time offer certain models of state administration, may change over time to the opposite – as it is the case now.
A month ago, at a meeting with the Vice Prime Minister responsible, members of the Council noted that the civil service must act in accordance with laws of Ukraine and not prioritize any of the denominations. According to religious leaders, this body should act in the interests of religious freedom and pluralism, provide administrative services equally quickly and efficiently for any denomination, without any discrimination.
In addition, according to the heads of denominations, the Public Office for Ethnic Policy and Freedom of Conscience should not create advisory bodies vested with “collective irresponsibility”, when the decisions that fall within the competence of officials are replaced by recommendations of advisory bodies.
As reported by the IRS, in December 2010, the State Committee of Ukraine for Nationalities and Religions was liquidated, while its functions were transferred to the reorganized Ministry of Culture of Ukraine.
The Ministry of Culture currently contains the Department for Religions and Nationalities which carries out state registration of certain types of religious organizations, consents to the religious activities of foreigners in Ukraine and exercises other powers in accordance with the Law of Ukraine "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations".