Religious Freedom Roundtable. Held Online for the First Time

Experts from human rights organisations and religious leaders have developed for the Cabinet of Ministers a number of proposals intended to ensure religious freedom for the period of quarantine restrictions . As reported by Religious Freedom.in.ua, an online conference to iscuss these topics in the format of the Religious Freedom Roundtable in Ukraine was held jointly by the Institute for Religious Freedom and the Centre for Civil Liberties Religious figures of various faiths, including from Christian , Jewish, and Muslim religious associations of Ukraine, as well as leaders from the Kharkiv Human Rights Group and Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union , joined the discussion.


Lawyer Kseniia Prokonova, managing partner of the Ukrainian branch of SBH Law Offices , clarified legal aspects of quarantine restrictions to the attendees and offered practical advice on protecting the believers :

«Violated rights in the instances when actions by the police do not conform to law . Quarantine is a time when everyone, including churches, should search for new opportunities. They also have to contend for the parishioners “attention within the confines of the law and public interest . It is the first time when the
church must learn how to talk to the police efficiently.»


As a result, the human rights activists, together with the religious leaders, developed the following suggestions for the government:


● When holding daily and festive services during the quarantine period , the
recommendations, made public by the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and
Religious Organisations on April 8, for avoiding congestion in temples and
other premises of religious organisations should be observed (that is, a total of
10 persons, based on 1 person per 5 sq m, are allowed to be in the temple or
other premises of a religious organisation at the same time)


● The self-isolation requirement on persons over 60 years of age should not
apply to the clergy and persons involved in the organisation of services, as
well as to other employees of retirement age;


● Given the ban, imposed by the order of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine , on
access for priests to prisoners and convicts, administrations of detention
centres and penitentiary institutions should provide an opportunity for viewing
religious services and sermons that are regularly transmitted by the Public
Broadcaster on the UA: FIRST and UA: CULTURE TV channels and, where
requested by prisoners and convicts, arrange for individual remote meetings
with chaplain priests using videoconferencing facilities;


● Offer an opportunity for meeting religious needs of persons accommodated
at social protection or palliative care establishments, including by providing
access to them for chaplain priests or by arranging for individual remote
meetings using videoconferencing facilities;


● Local authorities, together with religious figures and volunteers, should be
encouraged to set up the facilities and develop the procedure for delivery of
free humanitarian aid to the destitute, including by providing food to persons
of no fixed abode, while observing sanitary and quarantine requirements and
avoiding mass convergence.


We would like to remind you that the Religious Freedom Roundtable in
Ukraine, founded in April 2019, is a civil society platform for dialogue and
liaison between religious, human rights and other civil society organisations.

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