OSCE: “The Constitutional Court of Ukraine confirmed in its decision the principle of friendly treatment to international law following the ECHR judgment in its interpretation of the provisions related to the constitutional rights and freedoms”
The Decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, adopted on September 8, 2016 in the case of advance notification of public worship, religious practices, ceremonies and processions upon the constitutional petition of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, follows consultative opinion provided by the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine upon the request of the Court. It is based on the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly developed by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the European Commission for Democracy through Law of the Council of Europe (Venice Commission).
This is stated in the announcement on the OSCE official website (http://www.osce.org/uk/ukraine/263986 )
KYIV, 14 September 2016 - Legal provisions requiring prior permission from authorities for religious gatherings are not compliant with the country’s basic law, reads a decision of Ukraine’s Constitutional Court announced on 13 September 2016 in Kyiv.
The ruling takes into account the consultative opinion provided by the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine upon the Court’s request. It also makes reference to European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) case-law and the Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly produced by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the European Commission for Democracy through Law of the Council of Europe (Venice Commission).
Specifically, the Court declared unconstitutional Article 21(5) of the Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations, as well as the notorious Soviet-era decree of 1988 issued by the USSR Supreme Council’s Presidium on the procedure for organizing and holding meetings, rallies, street marches and demonstrations.
It thereby confirmed that citizens wishing to organize a religious gathering must follow the regular procedure applying to civic activists intending to hold a peaceful assembly: they need to notify the authorities, not seek permission from them.
With this judgment the Court confirmed the principle of “friendly treatment of international law”, taking into account ECtHR case-law when interpreting constitutional rights and freedoms. This principle is of special importance for the constitutional complaint mechanism that is being introduced in Ukraine by recently-adopted constitutional amendments entering into effect as of 30 September this year.
“We are proud that the OSCE is able to play a role in helping Ukraine open access to constitutional justice in such a fundamental way,” said Vaidotas Verba, the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine.
The Project Co-ordinator provided its consultative opinion as part of its mandate to assist Ukrainian partner institutions. It also assists the Constitutional Court to introduce a direct constitutional complaint, which is an important part of Ukraine’s constitutional reform allowing citizens to directly appeal to the Court if they feel a law is unconstitutional. OSCE’s co-operation with the Court was highlighted during the meeting of OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier with Court’s chairman Yuriy Baulin on 9 September 2016.
Both the judgment and the consultative opinion provided by the OSCE Project Co-ordinator’s Legal Advisor can be accessed on the Court’s website (http://ccu.gov.ua/docs/1924).