Amsterdam warns Ukrainian MPs again about US sanctions for banning UOC

16 March 19:39
American lawyer Robert Amsterdam. Photo: American lawyer Robert Amsterdam. Photo:

Members of parliament who encroach on religious freedom in Ukraine will also face sanctions from the EU, UK, Canada, and Australia.

On March 15, 2024, in light of ongoing persecutions against the Church and the government's desire to adopt criminal law 8371, Robert Amsterdam wrote an appeal to the speaker of parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, and Ukrainian MPs, the Politika Strany Telegram channel reports.

In the appeal, the lawyer once again explained why law 8371 is inconceivable in any democratic country and cited examples of blatant crimes against the UOC, including illegal seizures of temples, arrests of parishioners, and hierarchs.

Amsterdam stated that the adoption of a law prohibiting the UOC undoubtedly goes beyond Ukraine's national interests. He warned that "should the Verkhovna Rada passes this legislation, all deputies voting in favor will face personal liability, potentially including sanctions, as well as possible criminal penalty" for the escalated attack on religious freedom in Ukraine.

The lawyer reminded that the US, EU, and UK routinely impose individual sanctions on the perpetrators of human rights violation far less egregious human rights violations than those contained in draft law 8371. Amsterdam also cited the example of the US Global Magnitsky Program, designed to address gross violations of religious freedom and corrupt property seizures, and "to sanction those individuals who have been involved in human rights abuses", like the ones regularly committed by the Ukrainian authorities against the Church. Canada, Australia, and several European countries have similar sanctions authorities and are prepared to use them to protect religious freedom.

Amsterdam stated that the political context in Washington, Brussels, and London is shifting, and the days of complete impunity and turning a blind eye to corruption issues are over. "Ukraine is held to higher standards of behavior, and it must be a state that upholds the rule of law. Draft law No. 8371 scoffs at these standards."

Robert Amsterdam concluded his letter saying, "As the second reading of Draft Law 8371 approaches, you face a choice. Do you want to join the ranks of the world's worst offenders of freedom of religion, or do you want to stand up for the rights of the Ukrainian people? If this law is passed, history will remember it, and there will be accountability under international law."

Earlier, the UOJ reported that Archpriest Sergiy Chertilin is being unlawfully detained in an SBU isolation ward.

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