Verkhovna Rada approved in the second reading the draft law №5435 on legal status of missing persons. 238 deputies voted in favor of the law. The bill defines the concept of a “missing person” in the context of international humanitarian law that maintains rights of such persons and provides corresponding legal protection for them. The legislative initiative also determines the inquiry procedure for missing persons, from filing an appeal for tracing to inquiry termination. Also, the law provides for material support for the family and property guardianship until a missing person has been found or declared dead.
It is important that enactment of the law on legal status of missing persons is essential for families of those missing during the war in Donbas and occupation of the Crimea. The law draft law provides for establishment of a single register of missing persons. All data will be stored in the same place. An individual that went missing will get the official status of a missing person. The family will receive all available information concerning the fate of their relatives. Also, the family acquires the right to learn about the circumstances of their death, place of burial and to have the remains of the deceased. To trace the persons that went missing due to the war in Donbas, a special Committee on missing individuals is to be established. It has been determined that this body will be responsible for clarification of the fate and location of such people. The Committee will co-operate with all state authorities, international and public bodies concerned with missing persons’ issues.
Families can apply to the court pleading to determine a missing person dead. In case missing persons were later declared dead, they will still be searched for until their location or place of burial is revealed. By contrast, until now a person used to be considered dead if he or she was not found in three years. From now on, families will get social support for the whole period of search for a missing person and until he or she is declared dead.
In today’s Ukraine the number of missing persons remains unknown. Iryna Herashchenko, a MP, earlier reported of about 400 such persons; the Ministry on occupied territories issues informed of almost 4 000 missing people. The International Red Cross Committee provides information on approximately 2 or 3 thousand missing individuals plus 7 hundred non-identified bodies recorded on the state controlled territory solely.