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Ukrainian Bar Association held the 4th Forum on Migration Law

May 11, 2024.

    Ukrainian Bar Association together with the NGO "UA Experts" held the 4th Forum on Migration Law.
    This year, the topics for discussion at the event included migration in Ukraine during the war, detection of war crimes, social protection of internally displaced persons and other vulnerable categories of population in Ukraine and abroad.
    The forum began with welcoming remarks by Mykola Stetsenko, President of the UBA, Managing Partner of AVELLUM, and Vladyslav Zaitsev, Chairman of the UBA Committee on Migration Law, lawyer at ARES Law Firm.
    Mykola Stetsenko expressed his hope that the event would become not only a place for discussions, but also a platform for fruitful interaction and joint work on solving current challenges in migration law.
    Vladyslav Zaitsev emphasized that the issues to be discussed at the forum are important for Ukrainian citizens who were forced to move to other regions or outside the country due to the full-scale war and are in difficult circumstances. He emphasized that discussing such important issues gives impetus to the state, in particular, to introduce certain innovations, and is a kind of report for international organizations on the problems of Ukrainian citizens.
    The topic of the first session of the forum was "Migration in Ukraine during the war as a way to identify and document war crimes, including conflict-related sexual violence." The session was co-moderated by Sergiy Nizhynskyi, Head of the NGO “UA Experts”, Advisor to the Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Vladyslav Zaitsev, Head of the UBA Committee on Migration Law, lawyer at ARES Law Firm, and Tetiana Drakokhrust, Professor at the Department of Legal Theory and Constitutionalism at the Western Ukrainian National University.
    At the beginning of the session, Sergiy Nizhynskyi stated that with each UBA Forum on Migration Law, the issue of migration becomes more and more crucial.
    Viktor Mysiak, Prosecutor of the Department of Procedural Management of Pre-trial Investigation and Support of Public Prosecution in Criminal Proceedings on Crimes Related to Sexual Violence, Department for Combating Crimes Committed in the Context of Armed Conflict, Office of the Prosecutor General, spoke about how at the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, prosecutors and investigators took care of citizens who left the combat areas en masse to collect information about the crimes of the occupiers. Subsequently, the recorded facts of crimes were structured under the articles of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
    According to Mr. Mysiak, the Ukrainian law enforcement system has registered 130,155 crimes related to Russian aggression to date. Regarding conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV), the prosecutor noted that there are 257 crimes in this category that have been proven and in which individuals have been recognized as victims. In addition to investigating these cases, prosecutors and investigators continue to verify and investigate numerous other cases of CRSV, including those reported in the media.
    Viktor Mysiak added that in investigating war crimes, including CRSV, the Ukrainian side cooperates with international experts who have access to criminal proceedings.
    Jane Alieva, director of PAYBACK4UKRAINE, founder of the Mama Jane Charitable Foundation, said that her work is currently focused on two areas: cases of abduction of Ukrainian children and cases of sexual violence during the war. Speaking about Ukrainians who have gone abroad because of the full-scale invasion, she emphasized that these people should understand that they can file civil lawsuits in foreign jurisdictions for damages caused by the war.
    Anzhela Stryzhevska, Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine (2016-2019), PhD in Law, Head of the Department of Criminal Law Policy and Criminal Law at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, recalled the Strategy of State Migration Policy of Ukraine for the period up to 2025. The expert noted that this strategy was approved in 2017 and it is obvious that since last year many of its provisions need to be clarified. Ms. Stryzhevska also emphasized the need to provide free legal aid to Ukrainians abroad.
    Yanina Sokolovska, journalist, political scientist, editor-in-chief of the portal "News in Ukraine, Canada, Israel", drew attention to the threat of losing young generations of Ukrainians who went abroad because of the war. According to her, Ukrainian children aged 8-9 who are currently living in Poland easily switch to Polish and are already forgetting the Ukrainian alphabet. In view of this, it is important to provide online education for these children in Ukrainian schools.
    Kateryna Viter, migration lawyer, founder of the VITER visa agency, translator of legal English, spoke about the peculiarities of temporary protection in the EU for Ukrainian citizens and immigration programs of the UK and the US as a way to support Ukrainians (PRESENTATION).
    According to Ms. Viter, of all the countries, the UK offered Ukrainians the best-developed immigration programs: family, sponsorship and extension schemes (extension of stay for those Ukrainians who were in the UK at the time of the full-scale invasion).
    Among the challenges and problems, the expert named
    the lack of state regulation of legal relations in the field of immigration and visa support, which contributes to the flourishing of fraudulent schemes (the number of fraudsters and unscrupulous persons in the field of immigration after February 24, 2022 has increased several times)
    high level of legal nihilism and ignorance in Ukrainian society;
    fraudulent schemes: multi-sponsorship, fictitious sponsorship, falsification of family visas, letters of entry permits, etc.
    During the session the speakers also discussed the relevance of dual citizenship during a full-scale war. The speakers came to a common conclusion that this issue carries certain risks and needs to be resolved after Ukraine's victory.
    The topic of the second session of the forum was "Social Protection of Internally Displaced Persons and Other Vulnerable Groups in Ukraine and Abroad: Problems, New Challenges and Results". The session was moderated by Sergiy Nizhynsky, Vladyslav Zaitsev and Tetyana Drakokhrust.
    Roman Karakash, Deputy Director General of the Directorate for Targeted Social Support of the Population, Head of the Expert Group on Administration of Social Programs of the Ministry of Social Policy, said that currently 4.9 million internally displaced persons are registered in Ukraine, of which 2.1 million are able-bodied, 1.2 million are of retirement age, 1 million are children, and about 200,000 are persons with disabilities.
    Mr. Karakash noted that the Ministry of Social Policy, the Pension Fund of Ukraine and the UN are cooperating on the issue of additional payments to socially vulnerable categories of the population, including pensioners living in the areas of hostilities.
    Viacheslav Liubashenko, Coordinator of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Ukraine for Information, Counseling and Legal Assistance, introduced the audience to the activities of the NRC, which the organization has been carrying out in our country since 2014 (PRESENTATION). The Council helps both those Ukrainians who fled their homes because of the war and those who stayed in Ukraine.
    Mr. Liubashenko spoke in detail about the NRC's Information, Counseling and Legal Assistance (ICLA) program, which includes the following components:
    informing — group information sessions;
    individual consultation;
    legal support (representation);
    technical assistance (legal assessment);
    capacity building (trainings, other events, operational support);
    legal research;
    Vladyslav Zaіtsev, Chairman of the UBA Committee on Migration Law, lawyer at ARES Law Firm, shared the latest information on the rules for crossing the state border during martial law.

Supported by Eurasia Foundation Supported by Eurasia Foundation