Ukraine: How war disrupts justice

19 June 2015

Regardless of their differing views, the rights and security of the people of Ukraine need to be protected by the rule of law. Today the country is in dire need of peace and justice. A study in 2010 showed that the most frequent justice needs were related to consumption of goods and services. Many people reported that these problems had significant impact on their lives.

From June to November 2015 HiiL is conducting a justice study in Ukraine. The goal of the study is to understand people’s justice needs. We will specifically study the individual perceptions of the quality of justice procedures and outcomes as well as the costs of their justice journeys.

We expect that for millions of Ukrainians the interaction with the law revolves around fair resolution of disputes with providers of services, public authorities, employers, neighbors and family members. These issues, however, dwarf in comparison with the justice problems of the hundreds of thousands of people who are directly affected by the recent ongoing war. According to UNHCR there are around 1.3 million internally displaced people in the Ukraine. Many others sought temporary or permanent shelter in other countries such as Russia, Belarus, Georgia and various EU countries. These people need identity documents, access to state aid, housing, protection of the abandoned property, etc.

According to humanitarian worker Alexandra Dvoretskaya, “...all reasons to move during a war come down to one thing: the craving for a peaceful life in which your kids are not endangered by stray bullets, your husband is not facing captivity or forced labor because a neighbor betrayed you.”

People in Ukraine now face a host of other problems due to the war: housing, jobs, education, access to health care and public services. The story of the twenty-year old Svetlana illustrates these problems. She left the city of Gorlovka with her twelve-year old sister after they witnessed heavy shelling. Their parents stayed behind, although their hopes for peace are quickly evaporating. Svetlana receives some benefits but urgently needs a job. Her other worry is the administrative limbo in which she and her sister have been caught – she’s not a parent and cannot enroll her sister in the local school.

Perhaps worst of all, since Svetlana and her sister fled, they can no longer rely on their social network to cope with their problems. Our studies constantly show that social support is incredibly important when people encounter justice issues.

In order to find out more about the problems of Svetlana and the many others affected by the war in Ukraine, HiiL will conduct a nationwide study by applying its Justice Needs and Satisfaction methodology. The results will be published on http://www.hiil.org.