The report on the fulfilment of Article 11 of the European Convention by Ukraine is needed
I want to talk over the ideas, which were not discussed at the seminar "The European standards on the freedom of peaceful assembles and associations and improvement of Ukrainian laws", and which, maybe, are not endorsed by a part of the readers. Yet, I believe that these ideas are rather important.
The first thesis: the situation with human rights in Ukraine is deteriorating. Unfortunately, the vector of the political development chosen by the authorities points namely to this direction. Let us return to the right for the freedom of assemblies. From 1996, when the operating Ukrainian Constitution was adopted, to 2000 we observed only one case, where a person was drawn to the responsibility according to Article 185 (1) of the Administrative Code. Then we achieved the cancellation of this verdict of the town court without any difficulties. Nowadays the cases concerning the prohibition to conduct meetings or the responsibility of the organisers make a quarter of the total number of the cases, with which the Severodonetsk public reception office of the voters committee deals. As to the recent months, a wave of the prohibitions of mass political actions swept over Ukraine.
I want to point out that the Ukrainian legislation guaranteeing the citizens right for assemblies significantly improved during the last years: the European Convention was ratified, the Constitutional Court issued the decision on the interpretation of Article 39 of the Ukrainian Constitution. At the same time the real situation with the right for assemblies deteriorated. It happened because the improvement of legislation and legal regulations is not sufficient for guaranteeing the citizens rights. Some additional measures are needed.
The second thesis: one must not hope that if the present opposition comes to power, the problem of the superiority of citizens rights will be solved. At the seminar Mr. Zakharov imparted such fact: the opposition, whose actions were prohibited massively this autumn, never turned to court. So, it seems that they, as well as the existing power, advocate the values different from the superiority of law.
Here is another example. The power of Severodonetsk has the reputation of a democratic one, the Rukhs and PRP render it the maximal aid. Yet, according to the results of our monitoring, it is Severodonetsk, where the level of violating fundamental human rights is the highest in the Lugansk oblast.
Thus, the solution of the problems of human rights protection is the task of human rights protecting organisations not involved in politics.
The third thesis: it is impossible to solve the problem through a court. This month the executive committee of the Severodonetsk town council took the decision to prohibit the meetings everywhere in the town except three places assigned by the executive committee. I estimate this decision as a violation of Article 11 of the European Convention and as an attempt to impede the realisation of the right for holding meetings. Being a conscious citizen, I turned to court with the claim against this decision. But all of us may predict what would be further. The court of the first instance would consider the case for about 18 months, then the case would be considered by the appeal court for another 6 months. Then I would wait for the decision of the European Court – at least two years. So, the decision of the executive committee abusing citizens rights would be operable for not less than four years.
Such claims are very important, but they are not sufficient in the modern situation in Ukraine.
I have a proposition: let us compile the report on the fulfilment of Article 11 of the European Convention by Ukraine, publish it and pass it to the Council of Europe. We, the human rights protecting organisations, must join our efforts, and then we will be able to do this.
What concerns the freedom of associations, we mainly discussed the problems of their registration. But these problems are not the most important in NGO activities. When an NGO is registered, the authorities do not know yet what position it will adhere, so they have no motives to hinder the registration. The main problems appear when an NGO is working yet, and this work is disliked by the power. And then the authorities begin to impede the work of the organisation. One of the methods is to discredit the NGO in mass media obedient to the power. Pay the attention to the absurdity of this method: the mass media maintained at the expense of taxpayers are fighting against the elements of civil society.
The meddling of the USS into NGO activities is also inadmissible. This year our organisation had the great experience of such contacts.
I think that such cases must be also included into the report on Article 11.