On 22 November, a Coordination Board on taking ID pictures in religion-based headwear (not covering the face or its shape) was held at the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior.
The Ministry invited different religious communities, including RAMU “Umma”, RAMC, RAMU, Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic Churches, Ukrainian Pentecostal Church, Ukrainian Biblical Society, Ukrainian Eparchy of Armenian Church, Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine. The event was moderated by Deputy Minister Ms.Tetiana Kovalchuk and Head of the State Migration Service Mr.Maksym Sokoliuk.
Ms.Kovalchuk stressed the symbolism behind holding that type of meeting on the Day of Dignity and Freedom (anniversary of the Revolution of Dignity), and that the officials on every level represented in the room were positive about solving the matter in favour of the religious communities. She also made point that the gathering was for discussing the best possible way of solving the problem with the State officials and the religious communities joining their efforts rather than opposing each other.
Long story short, the problem is due to be solved in 4 months. The Ministry of Interior officials shared that, according to the scale number of documents already issued with headscarf-covered pictures in them, the agency decided not to extinguish them, so that people wouldn’t have to re-apply for their IDs.
— The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards which the Ukrainian machine-readable passport complies to specifically spell out that head covering for a religious purpose is sufficient and acceptable if specifically allowed by the State issuing the documents. Today we understand that the problem lies mainly in making amendments to the State Standard for capturing images for ID purposes, — noted Ms.Kovalchuk.
On his part, the Head of the SMS said that he studied the matter and found no example of a document providing complex regulation for every case of taking photos for ID purposes in other countries. So, Ukraine had the opportunity of becoming the first country to cover every case when ID photos are required, and be a role model for other countries. Mr.Sokoliuk mentioned all the governing documents related to pictures for different types of IDs, and initiated a discussion. He also informed that RAMU “Umma” had agreed upon paying the cost of developing amendments to the State Standard in order to avoid waiting for the budget funding of the Commission’s work and solve the problem earlier. The State officials eagerly accepted the offer.
The matter of dispute was, if the matter was to remain under the State Standard definition, or some other regulatory act (like a Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers) was needed. Everyone agreed upon the fact that amending the Standard was the fastest way of solving the problem, and would give time for producing another regulatory act.
The participants also discussed how they could make visual identification of a person wearing a religious headdress by the photo. In particular, Mr.Enver Kadyrov, lawyer of the RAMC, noted that the colour of the headwear should differ from both the skin tone and the background, to make the shape of the ID bearer’s head clearly visible in the proto.
First Deputy Minister of Information Policy of Ukraine Ms.Emine Dzhaparova stressed that she was happy to see the willingness of the State agencies to be receptive to the citizens’ problems, population of the temporarily occupied territories in particular (for most of the Ukrainian Muslims live in the occupied Crimea, and many of them had become internally displaced persons), for the possibility of their timely receiving of ID means everything to them. She also said that on that days, many women were unable to get their ID on time due to the ban of head covering, and thus were deprived of the possibility to enjoy their civil rights and perform their civic duties (like voting).