12:50 19.12.2015

Ukraine's law on 'decommunisation' does not comply with EU standards – Venice Commission, OSCE/ODIHR

2 min read
Ukraine's law on 'decommunisation' does not comply with EU standards – Venice Commission, OSCE/ODIHR

The law of Ukraine on the condemnation of the communist and national socialist (Nazi) regimes and prohibition of propaganda of their symbols pursues legitimate aims, although the document does not comply with European legislative standards, according to a joint opinion of the Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR published on December 18.

"The law is too broad in scope and introduces sanctions that are disproportionate to the legitimate aim pursued. Any association that does not comply with Law No. 317-VIII may be banned, which is problematic with regard to every individual’s freedom of association. This is particularly the case when it comes to political parties, which play a crucial role in ensuring pluralism and the proper functioning of democracy," the experts said.

"The banning of political parties from participation in elections or their dissolution should be a measure of last resort in exceptional cases," they said.

The Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR make the following key recommendations for the improvement of Law no. 317-VIII: for the purpose of clarity, the Law should contain a less extensive and exhaustive list of the prohibited symbols; the notion ' propaganda' must be clearly defined, especially when it is used for the purpose of criminalising conduct.

On May 15, 2015, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed four laws 'On the condemnation of the communist and national socialist (Nazi) regimes and prohibition of propaganda of their symbols', 'On the access to archives of repressive bodies of the Communist totalitarian regime of 1917-1991,' 'On the commemoration of the victory over Nazism in the 2nd World War of 1939-1945', and 'On the legal status and commemoration of fighters of Ukraine's independence in the 20th century.'

The documents ban Soviet symbols, denounce the Communist regime, open archives of Soviet special services, and recognize the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and some other organizations as fighters for Ukraine's independence.

After the adoption of the laws, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic said that Ukrainian anti-Communist laws may pose a potential threat to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

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