Parliament's Ombudsman Reports Numerous Problems Regarding Religious Freedom in Ukraine
The question of the restitution of church property in Ukraine is an urgent problem of church-state relations in the modern conditions.
This opinion was expressed by the Commissioner of the Supreme Council of Ukraine on human rights Nina Karpachova in the annual report on the status of observance and protection of human rights and freedoms in Ukraine. She presented the printed version of the report on February 8 in the Parliament, reported the Institute for Religious Freedom.
According to the commissioner, the process of the restitution of religious buildings and other property to religious organizations should be continued and needs to be regulated by an appropriate law. “Its approval would considerably reduce the sharpness of the conflicts which continue to be the cause of tension in interdenominational and church-state relations,” said Nina Karpachova.
The report says that, as of today, religious organizations of Ukraine are only 69% provided with religious buildings. In total, about 8 thousand religious organizations in Ukraine carry out religious activities in rented or accomodated buildings.
Unlike in the previous years, this time, the report of the ombudsman contains a separate chapter “Freedom of Worldview and Confession.”
The document presents general information on the religious situation in Ukraine as of the beginning of 2011, in particular the statistics of the status of the religious network and characteristics of the main denominations.
The monitoring of the ombudsman shows that there are many problems in the area of ensuring human rights to freedom of worship and confession.
In 2011, the ombudsman “received 4,760 applications from 99,486 persons regarding the improvement of the effective law on the freedom of worship and religious organizations, the procedure of the renewal of the rights of religious communities to restitution of the church property, nationalized (confiscated) at the Soviet time, the return of religious and other church buildings, which are in state or communal ownership, to religious organizations, the realization of the right to allocate land plots, rent immovable property for religious needs, and the steps taken to counteract stirring of interdenominational hatred.”
Approximately, 70% of the applications concerned violation of rights of believers to the alternative form of registration of tax payers without the use of the identification number. The addresses were provoked by the approval of the Tax Code in 2010.
According to the ombudsman, harmonization of the national model of the social and religious and church-state relations with the European standards requires the approval of the Concept of Church-State Telations in Ukraine and renewal of the effective laws as soon as possible.
One should note that, according to the ombudsman, “in the present conditions, the relations between the church and state increasingly assume the character of an equal dialogue.”