Violations of rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens during election process: generalization of messages of human rights protecting organizations
Numerous violations of elective and other rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens in the course of the election campaign are observed in Ukraine. In many cases the efficient tools of protection from such violations are absent in our country.
The pressure on voters is practiced frequently. Such practices result in increment of fear and absence of freedom in the society, restricts the right of citizens for free choice.
In particular, the practices of administrative pressure are used in state and municipal organizations and enterprises: heads of workshops and departments demand from their subordinates to put their signatures in the support of candidates, doctors – from their patients; teachers are forced to visit the parents of their pupils, etc.
Workers are made to take part in meetings and other actions conducted in the support of candidate to presidency Viktor Yanukovich. For instance, such situation occurred at the meeting-concert in the support of V. Yanukovich conducted on 14 July on the central square of Kharkov, where, by different estimations, from 50 to 100 thousand persons were present. The participants even did not conceal that they were forced to come to the meeting by their bosses. Similar meetings were held in some district centers of the Kharkov oblast.
There were cases of dismissals because of political views. For example, a teacher of one of the schools of the Kharkov oblast was dismissed after her participation in the forum of teachers organized by “Our Ukraine”.
For many persons, which occupy the executive positions in the organs of state power and local self-government, the success of the election campaign directly depends on their post, which implies the widening of the practice of exertion of administrative pressure on the voters.
In many cases the realization of these or those rights, especially social-economic ones, are dependent on the political activity and support of the candidate from the power.
Numerous cases were fixed of spreading of untrue or insulting information about the candidates to presidency; at that the law-enforcing organs did nothing either for disclosure of the persons, who committed these actions, or for stopping such actions. During several election campaigns there were no court verdicts in the cases on distribution of untrue information by means of falsification of newspapers and leaflets or printing them without dateline.
The freedom of peaceful assemblies is abused. Courts prohibit to conduct meetings, demonstrations and pickets (most often groundlessly), and in some cases militia terminates such actions without court decisions, which contradicts Article 39 of the Constitution of Ukraine. For instance, on 30 August in the Odessa oblast (the Kominternovskiy district) a meeting was dispersed by militia without any court decision, which prohibited its conduction.
The cases are also observed of administrative or criminal persecution by law-enforcing organs of the activists of headquarters of the opposition candidates. At that the right for liberty and personal security is violated.
For instance, in many regions of Ukraine militia ceased the movement of buses and confiscated the documents from the drivers, who transported people for participation in the meetings in the support of V. Yushchenko. The agitators, especially the agitators for opposition candidates, are regularly threatened and detained during distribution of agitation materials. Some of them have already turned to prosecutors offices and courts with the complaints against the illegal actions.
Another case of persecution for political activities was observed in the Chernigiv oblast. On 21 July the agitation board in the support of V. Yanukovich was found in a state establishment -- the Priluki district directorate of economy and provisions, which violated Article 64 of the Law of Ukraine “On election of the President of Ukraine”. The conflict arose, in the result of which M. Kireev, according to his words, was beaten by representatives of the regional headquarters of V. Yanukovich. As it is known to human rights protectors, on 27 July another conflict occurred between the representatives of the headquarters of candidates V. Yanukovich and V. Yushchenko. In the evening of the same day the all-Ukrainian mass media published the information about the attack on the regional headquarters of candidate V. Yanukovich, and the participants of the conflict, who represented the regional headquarters of candidate V. Yushchenko (V. Labazov, V. Manko and M. Kireev), were wanted by militia. They learned about that only from the news of central TV channels.
On the next day V. Labazov, V. Manko and M. Kireev, the assistants of the MPs of Ukraine, voluntarily came to the local militia precinct and were interrogated. After the interrogation V. Labazov, the head the regional election headquarters, was taken into custody after the accusation according to Article 296 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (hooliganism). In the connection with the abrupt aggravation of health, which occurred at the moment of detention, V. Labazov was taken to a hospital (under escort), where the microstroke on the background of morbus hypertonicus and ischemic heart disease was diagnosed. However, in spite of the aggravation of health, which was also caused by a “dry hunger-strike” that had been started by Labazov at the moment of detention, he was transferred to the pre-court incarceration cell. Contrary to the demands of the European Convention on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and Ukrainian normative acts, the advocate was admitted to the accused only on 5 August. On 6 August the sitting of the Priluki town court of the Chernigiv oblast was held, at which the court issued the sanction for the arrest of V. Labazov and holding him in custody as a preventive measure. According to the data given by M. Kireev and V. Labazovs mother, several excesses took place during the court sitting, which evidenced about the biased attitude to the accused and the violation of the right to fair trial.
Human rights protectors have the materials (both printed and recorded by technical means), which can confirm that there were no signs of crime in the actions of V. Labazov, that he, V. Manko and M. Kireev only tried to fix the fact of violation of part 15 of Article 64 of the Law of Ukraine “On election of the President of Ukraine” and, on their own initiative, called militia to the place of conflict hoping to the unbiased attitude to the situation and creation of the protocol of the violation. These law-abiding actions caused the institution against them of criminal case for hooliganism, court decision about holding of V. Labazov in the preliminary prison and the written undertaking not to leave a place for M. Kireev and V. Manko. At the same time, neither the law-enforcers nor court became interested in the actions of Ya. Khodiuk, a worker of the headquarters, who, in the course of the conflict, had inflicted bodily injuries to V. Labazov, which was confirmed by the forensic expert. By the decision of the Chernigiv appeal court, V. Labazov has been released from custody with the written undertaking not to leave a place, but the criminal case against him is still investigated.
We reckon that the actions of law-enforcing organs and court regarding V. Labazov violate the demands of the European Convention on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the Ukrainian Constitution. Hence, we believe that the “Labazovs case” has the political character and is an example of persecution for political activities.
Some cases of the conduction of illegal searches were observed. For instance, the Kirovograd militia, under the pretext of examination of the building for check of the information about its mining, searched the election headquarters of one of candidates to the Presidents post and confiscated some documents. In Krivoy Rog the search of the headquarters of candidate O. Moroz was carried out during eight hours.
Such arbitrary actions are possible because of the existing drawbacks in the Ukrainian criminal-procedural legislation, which can worsen essentially after the adoption of the draft of the Criminal-Procedural Code, which would significantly decrease the guarantees of the protection of rights and freedoms during the pre-trial investigation even in comparison with the operating laws, and which does not meet the European standards in the sphere of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Under such conditions the reaction of “Our Ukraine” and other participants of the election process to such facts as secret surveillance and other brutal violations is not sufficient. The number of the complaints handed to the Central Election Commission (92 complaints) is too small, and nobody may expect that the CEK would consider these complaints quickly and objectively. We reckon that the participants of the election process ignore such method as handing complaints to court against the illegal activities or passivity of the organs of executive power, organs of local self-government and their officials, although there are very many grounds for such complaints in Ukraine. The courts should be overfilled with such complaints, but nothing of this kind happens. There are several explanations of this situation.
In the course of the Presidential election campaign many human rights protectors come across the problem of illegal actions of the organs of state power and local self-government. Moreover, the human rights protectors tried to prove that these actions were illegal, since they evidently violated the Law of Ukraine “On election of the President of Ukraine”. However, the Ukrainian courts have started to reject the complaints, since, on the basis of this law, one may complain only against the actions of the participants of election process, and the power organs are not such participants.
For example, on 20 July 2004 the Leninskiy district court of Lugansk ceased the consideration of the case concerning the complaint of S. Dyakov against the actions of O. Efremov, the head of the Lugansk oblast state administration, V. Tikhonov, the head of the Lugansk oblast council, and the press service of the Lugansk oblast state administration, who abused the equal election rights and the procedure of the pre-election agitation, because they were not subjects of the election process.
Other court decision on the complaints of human rights protectors against the arbitrary actions of the organs of state power and local self-government (their direct participation in pre-election agitation) reads that these actions were committed not during the fulfillment by the officials of their professional duties, which is the obvious distortion of the legal norms and the principle of superiority of right.
Another drawback of court consideration is the impossibility to demand simultaneously the compensation both of the material and moral damage inflicted by the activities or passivity of power organs. The problem is also complicated by the fact that the terms of consideration of the appeal complaints are not observed and frequently such complaints are not considered until the end of the election. Thus, the goal of court protection is lost.
All mentioned facts evidence that court protection is not efficient during the election campaign. On the one hand, this happens because of drawbacks of the law on Presidential election, on the other hand – because courts use all possible grounds for rejection of such complaints or retardation of their consideration. Besides, citizens are permanently intimidated by the organs of executive power and law-enforcing organs, so they do not want to protect their rights actively.
Deprivation of non-governmental organizations of the right to appoint their observers at the election is alarming.
The Central election commission violates the law, when it refuses to register Ukrainian citizens as the observers from international organizations.