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12.12.2001 | E. Zakharov, Kharkov

Report of the Ukrainian ombudsperson

   

On 28 November 2000 the public at last heard the long awaited report of Nina Karpacheva, the Ukrainian ombudsperson. MPs got a 400-pages long report on the state of observing human rights and freedoms in Ukraine and about the activities of the ombudsperson and her staff.

Without having the text, it is rather difficult to comment the content. Although, according to the law, the report had to be published in ’Vidomosti Verkhovnoi Rady Ukrainy’ (’Proceedings of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine’), it was printed only in a few copies for MPs and members of the state administration. Financial difficulties were given as a reason. It is understandable, where they found financing to print ’Visnyk Upovnovazhennogo z prav ludyny’ (’The ombudsperson’s Herald’) in a great number of copies on very expensive paper. It would be more reasonable to use financing for printing the report. It would be also desirable to get a report on expenditures, because reproaches were heard as to the optimal use of the finances.

So, without having the text, we shall use the information, which got to the press: the newspapers ’Dzerkalo tyzhnia’, ’Day’ and others.

According to Karpacheva, all the human rights in the Ukraine are abused systematically and massively. Since 14 April 1998, when she began to work as the ombudsperson, more than 100 thousand persons turned to her, including 260 MPs. 56% of the complaints concerned violations of civil, 20% -- of economic, 16% -- of social, 5% -- of personal, 3.3% -- of political rights. 2500 cases were taken into consideration. Every fifth of them was concluded positively for the complainer. The law-enforcing organs, the Ministry of Justice and general courts (especially as to too long consideration of cases) abuse human rights most often. In especially urgent cases Karpachova presented 128 cases to the President, Supreme Rada, state administration and other state structures.

The massive abuse of human rights is connected with the pauperization of the population. According to Karpacheva’s data, 80% of the potential clients cannot afford to use advocate’s services. Average wages, salaries and social payments are lower than the survival minimum, regulated by law; this is also a violation of the Constitution. Nowadays the survival minimum equals Hr 270, while, according to the data of the Ministry of statistics, the average monthly pay in per capita in January-September equals Hr 135.7.

Nina Karpacheva focused her attention on the application of torture during the detainment and investigation. The ombudsperson affirms that this is a daily routine. According to her data, during the last two years 194 criminal cases concerning such facts were started, 285 militiamen were brought to the criminal responsibility. These year 200 criminal cases were started.

Karpacheva also turned her attention to the problem of suicide. The monitoring showed the following results: from 1990 to 1999 the number of suicides was larger than 133 thousand, the number of children suicide also increased.

How can we assess the ombudsperson’s activities? Her data, as to the proportion of the complaint considered by her staff (20%) are, on the whole, expected. Ossibly, the results could be better if she established ties with human rights protection organizations. As far as I know, such ties are absent. Unfortunately, we heard nothing about the ombudsperson’s Constitution presentations, although there were many blatant abuses of the Constitution, and, correspondingly, there were many complaints to the ombudsperson. The public has insufficient information on the ombudsperson’s activities. Accidentally there appear brief notes in various newspapers, but it is too little. According to these notes, Karpacheva’s attention is focused on the slave-trade (especially women trade), and she is said to prepare a special report about this. I believe that there are other topics which deserve to be analyzed in special reports: insufficient protection of the poorest layers of the population by the state, the brutal violation of the freedom of expression, an extremely limited access to justice, and others.

Let us sum up: until now the authority of the ombudsperson has not reached the proper level. But Nina Karpacheva is not the only person to blame. Generally speaking, this is a result of the common nihilistic attitude to human rights on the side of the administration, society and man in the street.

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