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State vs. citizen: proposed amendments to the law

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State vs. citizen: proposed amendments to the law

27. 03. 2017

The issue of the potential loss of citizenship in case of adoption of the draft law of the President of Ukraine Poroshenko No. 6175 of 13 March 2017 “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine” On Citizenship of Ukraine “(hereinafter – the Law) still remains topical. The bill is aimed at “good intentions” for the fight against dual citizenship of public servants. However, it is essentially aimed at all citizens of Ukraine.

The community’s response to the bill was instantaneous. The Congress of Ukrainians appealed to the President of Ukraine to hold public hearings on this issue, it was emphasised that the draft law restricts constitutional rights of Ukrainians.

Many lawyers also came to negative conclusions regarding this legislative initiative. The comments as to inconsistency between provisions of this draft law, other domestic legal acts and European Convention on Citizenship can be found in the Conclusions of Main Scientific and Expert Department of the Verkhovna Rada.

Thus, if the legislator wants to establish control over civil servants, this could be provided in the additional column ‘Foreign citizenship’ in the e-declaration.

Submitting false information in the declaration incurs criminal and administrative liability, pursuant to Article 172-6 of the Code of Ukraine on Administrative Offences and Article 366-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

 While answering such question the person submitting the  e-declaration can foresee the consequences of submitting false information. This way the issue would be resolved.

What is implementation mechanism of the President’s draft law, if adopted?

The following amendment is proposed to Article 19 of the Law:

‘ Citizen of Ukraine who has voluntarily acquired citizenship of a foreign state is deemed to have declared his/her intention to change citizenship and agreed to suspend Ukrainian citizenship’.

The President of Ukraine suggests tracking violators of the Law through:

  1. obtaining information from the public registers of state and local bodies of foreign states.
  2. obtaining information posted on official websites, official publications of state authorities and local government bodies of foreign states.

3.using passport of foreign state in the territory of Ukraine or when entering/ leaving Ukraine, which is recorded by officials  of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine or other state authority of Ukraine.

However, obtaining information through requests to foreign authorities is obviously a long and complicated way.

The most “interesting and ambiguous”, in my opinion, would be checking foreign passports at the state border at airports, railways, highways.

In addition, proposed amendments to Article 19 of the Law of Ukraine “On Citizenship of Ukraine” stipulate, inter alia, the use of passport of a foreign country in the territory of Ukraine, and it gives plenty of options there.

Thus, the information will be collected in different ways.

Proposed amendments to Article 19 of the Law with the wording “citizen of Ukraine who has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign state is considered to have declared his intention to change his citizenship and has agreed to terminate the citizenship of Ukraine” is inconsistent with the definition of “voluntary consent”: obtaining information by the competent authorities cannot be considered as voluntary consent.

Thus, deprivation of citizenship through the envisaged draft law is essentially a deprivation of citizenship, which contradicts Article 25 of the Constitution of Ukraine.

In addition, according to the draft law provisions, registration of dual citizenship by the competent authorities does not automatically lead to the loss of Ukrainian citizenship.

It should be recalled that only the Presidential Decree terminates citizenship, and, therefore, termination of citizenship will continue to be subject to the discretionary powers of the President.

Under the above circumstances, no amendments are required to the Law of Ukraine “On Citizenship”. When combating dual citizenship of public servants it is only necessary to amend the bylaws. While deprivation of citizenship based on grounds proposed by the President requires amendments to the Constitution.

Andriana Kulchytska

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