On November 16, 2021, the Head of the Representation of the UOC to European International Organizations, Bishop Viktor Baryshevsky, took part online in the Third Session of the UN Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law “Equal Access to Justice for All: an Essential Element of Democracy, Rule of Law and Protection of Human Rights.” The two-day event is held in a mixed format, according to the Information and Educational Department of the UOC.
In his speech, Bishop Viktor said that more than 12,000 religious organizations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church may be deprived of the opportunity to effectively defend their rights in courts, unless the so-called law “on renaming” is abolished, which provides for the invalidation of the statutes of religious communities of the UOC in the part of the name in case of refusal to change their name, as required by this law. Now, some religious organizations are already encountering certain difficulties when making changes to state registers; individual cases have been recorded when believers cannot effectively exercise their legal rights. These facts testify to the continuation of the discriminatory policy on the part of certain state authorities in relation to the UOC, which restricts the rights of believers to practice their faith as part of religious communities with the name that has been historically and legally enshrined since 1990. At the same time, there is a threat of complete deprivation of the religious organizations of the UOC of the right to access to justice if the provisions on the partial invalidity of the statutes are applied in practice. All this is part of a single policy that promotes raider seizures of the UOC churches and provokes violence, conflicts and enmity in society.
Also, a significant problem remains the weak response of law enforcement agencies to numerous appeals about the violation of the rights of believers of the UOC, who are often forced to demand the opening of criminal proceedings on the facts of violations of their rights in court.