The United Nations has called on Ukraine to develop a law on the implementation of the rights of indigenous peoples and national minorities.
"We have followed the parliamentary works that led to the adoption of the law on state language since its beginning. During the process, we shared our concerns and recommendations with the Parliament on how to bring the law in line with international human rights standards. Many of these were addressed in the final version of the law, which was adopted on April 25, 2019," the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission said in a statement on August 4.
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It says that despite a number of positive shifts, the law still raises a number of human rights concerns. "The law regulates the use of Ukrainian as the sole state language in many spheres of public life, but does not regulate the use of minority languages. In the absence of updated legislation on minorities, a number of the law's provisions, which are already applicable, may jeopardize the rights of minorities," it said.
"We call on the Cabinet of Ministers and the Parliament to elaborate a law on the realization of the rights of national minorities and indigenous people without undue delay, through inclusive consultations with representatives of national minorities and indigenous people," it added.
The UN recommendations say that the developed and adopted law should guarantee the use of any language in private activity. Also, it is advised that the government should avoid an unjustified distinction between official European Union languages and other minority languages which provide a preferential treatment to the former.
"The regulations on final secondary schools exams and admission exams to public universities and other State educational institutions must take into account the use of minority languages as a medium of instruction in the educational system," the recommendations said.
In addition, it is emphasized that the prospective "law on the realization of the rights of indigenous peoples and national minorities of Ukraine" must ensure that the use of a minority language during cultural events is respected in line with the freedom of expression. "The language proficiency requirements for public officials must be proportionate to the objectives of the law. They should not preclude the participation of minority language-speakers in public life," the UN said.
At the same time, they recommend that the government should facilitate the effective participation of minorities in public life including, where practical, the use of their languages in electoral, consultative and other public participation processes.
However, Ukraine is advised to ensure, where practical, access should be provided to public health care, social and other administrative or public services in minority languages.
"In public media, minority languages must be provided with sufficient and proportionate space. In the private broadcasting sector, free use of language, including minority languages, must be permitted," the recommendations say.
It also emphasizes that linguistic requirements in the commercial sphere, and especially in advertising, must respect the freedom of expression.
In addition, the UN office recommends that the Ukrainian authorities should establish preparatory language training programs for those who must use the state language.
The recommendations also say that exceptions to the language requirement for acquiring citizenship should include persons with not only physical, but also mental and intellectual conditions that preclude them from learning Ukrainian.
"Monitoring and enforcement mechanisms should not be based on sanctions, but on incentives," the UN experts said.
As UNIAN reported earlier, the bill on the rights of national minorities, including linguistic ones, will be submitted to the Verkhovna Rada for consideration this fall.