New Ukrainian legislation criminalises antisemitism

New legislation in Ukraine amends an already existing law on preventing and countering antisemitism, adding criminal liability.

In 2021, Ukraine passed a law “On Preventing and Countering Antisemitism in Ukraine”. This new law passed by the Ukrainian parliament on Wednesday, February 16, criminalizing antisemitism.

The IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition states that “antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

According the IHRA, when antisemitism is committed by an individual, they can be punished by a fine or imprisonment for up to five years. Public officials face the same punishment, with the addition that they are to be banned from holding certain offices for up to three years. Organised groups committing the same acts of antisemitism are punishable with a prison sentence of up to eight years.

Boris Lozhkin, the president of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine welcomed the first law passed in September, saying that it “brought Ukraine closer to Europe and the civilized world”. Together with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, JCU has been conducting joint monitoring of antisemitism for a long time, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs promptly responds to both physical and online cases.

“However, for an effective fight against these manifestations, the legal component was missing… A real tool has appeared now for combating a phenomenon that has a much broader meaning than hatred toward Jews.”