Nearly Half of Transcarpathian Roma Has No Identity Documents through Conflicts of Laws
According to unofficial data, more than 100 thousand Roma live in Zakarpattya. About 10 thousand Roma live in the greatest camp of Mukachevo. Despite such number and considerable time period of residence in one place, one of the greatest problems of Roma communities is absence of official documents – birth certificates and passports. According to public organizations, about 40% of Roma have no identify documents. Therefore, Roma have no nationality de facto in the country where they were born and live.
Human rights activists note that such situation turns Roma into the object for indirect discrimination.
“Unfortunately, sometimes we observe as formally neutral rules, criteria or practice handicap de facto the person of a certain minority in comparison with others. Actually it is an unequal situation. Often representatives of ethnic and religious groups face it. We meet indirect discrimination when we solve “Roma” cases. In particular, it concerns registration of the identifying documents”, lawyer of the Charitable fund “Progress” Renata Balog said.
In the past Roma parents often did not register their children’s birth. Therefore, having already matured and having understood that they can’t exercise a lot of their rights without documents, they try to legalize the fact of the birth.
But, under the law, since sixteen years the birth registration can be carried out only upon presentation of a valid proof of identity (the passport). But the Order of execution and issue of passport of citizen of Ukraine specifies: for registration of this document the birth certificate is to be presented. This is a vicious circle for Roma!
Lawyer of Fund “Progress” Iryna Lysnychka notes:
“According to part 8 of P. 2 of Art. 13 “About the state civil registration” in case of attaining the age of sixteen years by the child the state registration of his or her birth can be carried out by of the Law of Ukraine according to his or her personal statement with presentation of passport of citizen of Ukraine”.
We will give one of examples. Josyp Feka (the surname is changed for ethical reasons), who was born outside maternity hospital, addressed us. Parents did not register his birth; therefore, there was no document that could confirm his identity. When applying to the department of the state civil registration Josyp was refused to register the fact of the birth and recommended to appeal to court.
Court satisfied his statement, having established the fact of his birth. However, when Josyp filed a petition to the department of the state civil registration, he was refused again – due to absence of passport.
Josyp with the help of lawyer of Mukachevo human rights center sent a number of inquiries to the Head Department of Justice in Zakarpattya region, State Registration Service of Ukraine, Ministry of Justice of Ukraine with a request to provide the answer relating to legitimacy of refusal of the department of the state civil registration to register the birth fact on the basis of the judgment and to grant the birth certificate. The provided explanations were identical claiming that he was to address a migratory service in the place of residence for the purpose of registration of the temporary identity card.
The lawyer of Fund “Progress” appealed to Zakarpattya district administrative court for recognition of actions of the department of the state civil registration as illegal in regard to refusal of registration of the birth on the basis of the judgment and about the obligation the department to register the fact of the birth and to grant the birth certificate. The administrative court issued the decree that obliged the department of the state civil registration to register the fact of the birth of Josyp Feka on the basis of the judgment and to grant him the birth certificate.
However, in spite of the decision of local court and the resolution of administrative court, Feka was again recommended to address migratory service in the place of residence for registration of the temporary identity card or the reference that could confirm his identity. Without presentation of one of the above documents the birth certificate can’t be granted.
In this regard, according to Josyp Feka’s statement, the administrative court issued the court order for compulsory performance of the judgment.
Only due to enforcing the decision through court the department of the state civil registration registered Josyp’s birth and granted him the birth certificate.
The press center of the Charitable fund “Progress”
PS: The centers of legal information and advice that provide free legal aid to Roma people working with the support of the “Roma of Ukraine“, International “Renaissance” Foundation. To learn more about the activities of a network of centers, foundations and principles of work visit the website www.legalspace.org under “Legal Empowerment of Roma communities.” The views in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the International “Renaissance” Foundation and other civil, religious and political organizations and individuals.