Situation in Ukraine in 2013 – Fact Sheet

The Ukrainian Parliament adopted a new law “On Refugees and Persons in Need of  Complementary or Temporary Protection” on 08 June 2011 after the EU had shared Visa Liberalization Action Plan. There are some positive innovations of the new law:

  • Adoption of a subsidiary protection
  • Only one kind of paper for asylum seekers who are in asylum procedure (instead of 5 or 6 under previous Law)
  • Possibilities for a quick family reunification for under age family members
  • The refugee passport is valid 5 years instead of 1 year as it was foreseen by the previous Law

Continue reading ‘Situation in Ukraine in 2013 – Fact Sheet’


Recently, a media article with the title “TYPICAL MYTHS – ATYPICAL MIGRATION” was published in Ukrainian media. In this article statistics on “illegal” migration to/through Ukraine – and their misinterpretation and propaganda through the radical right in Ukraine – is discussed. Therefore, BMPU roughly translated the article. The original article can be found here.


The myth of thousands of irregular border crossings

In this paper you can find some highly interesting statistics on the readmission agreement between the European Union and Ukraine:

ThReadmissione expert community and mass media expressed their apprehensions that Ukraine might be overwhelmed with hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants from third-party countries. These fears, however, proved unfounded. In two years since the Agreement’s enactment (2010-2011), the State Border Service of Ukraine readmitted about 1,500 people, 57.4% of whom were Ukrainian nationals (Table 1), 28.8% – the nationals of other CIS countries (including Georgia) and 13.8%,the nationals of developing Asian and African countries.



New UNHCR-Report published

unhcr-2013-front-page[…] UNHCR concludes that Ukraine is failing to provide sufficient protection against refoulement, and does not provide asylum-seekers with the opportunity to have their asylum claims considered in an efficient and fair procedure. Ukraine therefore should not be considered as a safe third country. UNHCR further urges States not to return asylum-seekers to Ukraine on this basis.


Download the report here.

Prominent Ukrainian human rights activist dies of heart failure

Groysman_eajcUkrainian Human Rights activist Dmytro Groysman died of a heart failure on August 5, 2013 at the age of 41. Unexpected acquittal was announced posthumously in a trial against him.

On August 12, 2013, a court ruling was delivered in Dmytro Groysman’s case after he died of a heart failure on August 5, 2013 in Kyiv. After 74 court hearings in the trial against Groysman, he was posthumously declared innocent on the ground that his guilt could not be proven. More than 300 Human Rights activists from Ukraine signed a petition to the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on the eve of the final court hearing, with a demand to declare Groysman innocent and investigate all trial irregularities (1).  Dmytro Groysman was a prominent Ukrainian Human Rights defender who focused in particular on police torture and the situation with refugees and asylum- seekers in Ukraine. Groysman’s investigations continuously exposed local police involvement in crimes such as prostitution. In 2010 a criminal investigation against him has been launched (2) into alleged on-line distribution of pornography. Groysman died only a day before the final court hearing took place. In his last words Groysman spoke about illegal activities of the police, “false witnesses” and “fake experts” (3).

With Dmytro Groysman’s death, Ukrainian civil society has lost one of its most outstanding leaders. His lawyer, Nataliya Gurkovska, told the court on Monday that the criminal investigation aimed at “forcing Groysman to leave Human Rights activism behind, which was finally attained”. She added that the Vinnytsya Human Rights Group, founded by Groysman, will nevertheless continue its work.

Source: PRAVO. Berlin Group for Human Rights in Ukraine, Contact:

(1) Petition to the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office (in Ukrainian)
(2) Protests against the conviction of Dmytro Groysman (in German)
(3) Last words of Dmytro Groysman that were read out to the court after his death (in Ukrainian)

UNHCR welcomes the legislative initiative to improve detention procedures in Ukraine

UNHCR Ukraine recently stated (source):

UNHCR is pleased that the draft legislation currently under consideration would bring Ukrainian practices related to migrant detention into line with international and European standards, and encourages lawmakers to positively consider the proposed improvements. In practice, a significant proportion of persons detained for migration-related offenses choose to seek asylum, and therefore are persons of concern to UNHCR. When foreigners are detained for the purposes of deportation, this detention does not service the usual purposes of detention, neither punishment nor deterrence.  Punishments for administrative violations, like attempting to cross the border without valid documentation, are available in law, and are usually short (e.g., 15 days administrative detention).  When individuals are detained for purposes of deportation, with lengthy periods of detention up to 12 months, the only purpose of that detention is to gather the information and documentation necessary to implement the deportation. Legislation relating to this detention needs to contain procedural safeguards to ensure that this detention serves its purpose, and that the deportation order is actually lawful and enforceable.

Current legislation allows for administrative bodies, such as the State Border Guard Service, to authorize the detention of  foreigners, apprehended within controlled border districts during an attempt or after illegal state border crossing at the MCCs, without the guarantee of a speedy judicial review of that decision.

At present, many foreigners are detained for a full twelve months at public expense without any efforts being made to actually implement their deportation.  Besides being a questionable use of scarce resources, this situation also violates the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights, which stipulates that if deportation of an individual is not being implemented by the authorities with due diligence, the detention of that individual becomes unlawful.

Once again, it must be noted that it was the European Union which pushed Ukraine to build up new detention cites and supported (and still supports) the construction and running with (financial) resources, as documented in detail on this website. That after decades of influence of the European Union in the Ukrainian migration regime – with the result of thousands of unlawfully detained (potential) asylum-seekers – only now maybe (!) a law according to the standards of the European Convention on Human Rights will be implemented must be heavily criticized. Should the European Union – the so-called “space of freedom, security and justice” not take care about that before pushing and supporting Ukraine to detain (potential) irregular border crossers for up to twelve month?

Kyiv Refugee Integration Centre under threat of closure

Kyiv City Administration is planning to close the Refugee Integration Centre, which has been operating since 1998. The Centre is a unique institution where children and adults can find not only legal and psychological assistance but also home.

Since 2010 Kyiv City Administration has attempted to make the Centre vacate its premises without offering an alternative. In April 2013 Kyiv City Administration started court proceedings against the Centre without presenting credible housing arguments. The closure of the center does not comply with Geneva Refugee Convention ratified by Ukraine in 2002. Moreover, it is against the Refugee Integration Plan adopted by Ukraine’s Government in 2012. On 29 May 2013, 80 refugees from different counties and human rights activists participated in a protest against the threat of Centre closure organized in front of the State Migration Service head office in Kiev.

On this occasion, as well as on the occasion of the World Refugee Day (20 June) PRAVO. Berlin Group for Human Rights in Ukraine has held a panel discussion in Berlin on 21 June 2013. Iryna Fedorovych, Co-coordinator of the project “No Borders” based at Kyiv Social Centre, emphasized the importance of the Centre for refugees in Ukraine as well as the necessity to amend current EU migration policies in order to ensure a human rights-based approach in treatment of refugees. She also explained that although Ukraine receives EU funding, most of it is spent on strengthening its border controls and refugee repatriation; hardly any funds are allocated to improving living conditions of refugees. Furthermore, numerous gaps in the implementation of refugee protection law combined with the absence of the state of law, has a negative impact on the lives of refugees and asylum seekers in Ukraine.

At the moment more than half of all refugees and asylum seekers on Ukraine’s territory live in Kyiv. According to the information provided by the Ukrainian charity “Rokada”, which has run the Refugee Centre in Kyiv since 2003, these are around 2.000 refugees and asylum-seekers, including 200 children.

PRAVO. Berlin Group for Human Rights in Ukraine points up the crucial importance of the Refugee Integration Centre in Ukraine and urges Kyiv City Administration to find a consensus-based solution and support the work of the Centre.


Refugee migration to Ukraine and the geopolitics of control at Europe’s eastern borders

While football fans may remember the controversy over hate speech ahead of the Euro 2012 games, two October 2012 developments in Ukraine have brought the need for human rights and refugee protection at Europe’s eastern borders back into the limelight. First, the Russian dissident Leonid Razvozzhayev was kidnapped from outside the UNHCR office in Kiev where he was claiming asylum, only to end up in Russian custody facing politically motivated charges. The following week, Ukraine’s ultra-nationalist party Svoboda, which openly supports a policy of ethnic cleansing, got as much as 12.5 percent of the votes in early polls, surpassing the threshold to enter parliament.

While these are indeed alarming developments, they are hardly new or surprising. They do, however, signal the need for international policies on refugee protection, freedom of movement, and human rights. Instead, EU policies created in the context of the economic crisis have fuelled a xenophobic moral panic about immigration, one that pushes ‘transit countries’ to institute securitisation and migration controls but remains out of touch with the lived realities of forced migration. As a result of such policies, for example, in February 2011 at least 1,400 sub-Saharan refugees fleeing racial persecution in North Africa drowned in the Mediterranean. There is much that remains mysterious about the conditions and policies that spur such dangerous border crossings – especially at eastern EU borders. Based on original evidence from the author’s recent field research on asylum migration to Ukraine, the goal of this article is to point to a fundamental contradiction between policies that seek to promote refugee protection abroad on the one hand but also institute controls on the freedom of movement. To this end, the article seeks to analyse the geopolitics and the integration initiatives that impact refugees in Ukraine, a country of transit and, increasingly, a sight of migration at the eastern border of Europe.

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Rohantan lost his life

rohanthanOn 14th March, Rohantan lost his life at the age of 28 while attempting to cross the border from Ukraine to Slovakia. He had left home to get to Europe with the aim to support his two sisters and his handicapped mother in Sri Lanka. He died whilst seeking a source of income and safety in the European Union.

His death is directly related to the immigration restrictions of the EU, to tight border controls, to outsourcing such controls to Ukraine and to agencies like IOM, ICMPD and UNHCR who are commissioned with some of these tasks. These do not permit Rohantan to pursue his aspirations and commitments.

Rohantan is thus another victim of the externalised EU border regime whose deadly consequences can be observed day by day in the Mediterranean.

We mourn for Rohantan!
Our deepest sympathy is with his family!
Border Monitoring Project Ukraine

Migrants can be detained without court decisions

In December 2012, UNHCR Ukraine published a statement concerning the newly-adopted amendments in Ukraine. UNHCR states, that these

amendments to the Law on the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine give the State Border Guard Service the power to authorize the detention of foreigners and stateless persons in the Migrant Custody Centre, if the individuals were detained in the border regions while attempting or making an illegal border crossing. Until now, such detentions have been authorized by a court, not an administrative body, and this is the better approach. According to the Ukrainian constitution, detention should be authorized by a court (Art. 29), and European human rights law reinforces this norm, which is a fundamental guarantee for individual liberty.

Continue reading ‘Migrants can be detained without court decisions’

Recently published by BMPU: Report on Corruption in the Immigration, Detention and Asylum System of Ukraine

Published 2011 by BMPU: Access to Protection Denied – Refoulement of Refugees and Minors on the Eastern Borders of the EU

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