Ukraine: Clarifications on Law on registration of religious organizations

The Ministry of Justice will distribute its clarifications among the territorial justice administrations regarding the peculiarities of state registration of religious organizations. This was agreed by the participants of the Working Group, the regular meeting of which was held at the Ministry on October 6 with the participation of representatives of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, reports the Institute of Religious Freedom. The explanation, which will be prepared by the Ministry of Justice, will indicate that there are no legal grounds to require the correction of the names of already registered religious organizations, as well as a list of documents was provided that are necessary for inclusion in the Unified State Register of those religious organizations that had acquired the status of a legal entity before their establishment.

Participants of the Working Group also agreed that further elaboration of legislative changes regarding the creation of a “single window” for the registration of religious organizations should be continued. The idea is that religious organizations will have to submit an exhaustive package of documents only to the religious affairs agencies, which simultaneously with the registration of the charters will enter the relevant data into the Unified State Register and forward them to the tax authorities. Representatives of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations suggested that they should not hurry to implement these changes, and to continue the appropriate consultations, if necessary, throughout 2018, for qualitative elaboration of the relevant draft law.

The participants of the meeting thanked the Ministry of Justice for their participation in the drafting and support of Draft Law No. 6642, which repeals the duty of notarization of the charters of religious organizations. The members of the working group discussed draft law No. 6696 aimed at abolishing the general re-registration of religious organizations, which was also understood and supported by the officials of the Ministry of Justice. As reported by the IRS, the Parliamentary Committee on Taxation and Customs Policy supported Draft Law No. 6696 and recommended that the Verkhovna Rada adopt it as a basis in the first reading. The initiators of this draft were representatives of all parliamentary factions and groups, and public experts participated in its elaboration.

Earlier, the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations stated that it had expected the parliament to cancel the re-registration of all religious organizations due to the long term, high cost and complexity of this procedure. According to the Council of the Churches, the introduction of re-registration not only obstructs the current spiritual and social service of religious organizations, but also contains obvious corruption risks. Note that the deadline for the re-registration of religious organizations is on January 1, 2018. The Tax Code provides for the exclusion from the Register of those religious organizations that fail to complete their reregistration before this date, which entails the taxation of their donations which is contrary to Article 18 of the Law on Freedom of Conscience. (Quelle: www.rius.org.ua, 9. Oktober 2017)

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