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16.11.2004

Statement of the Chernigiv Public Committee of Human Rights Protection on increase of the cases of administrative pressure on voters by representatives of organs of state power and local self-government in the Chernigiv oblast

   

The Chernigiv Public Committee of Human Rights Protection (ChPCHRP in what follows) appeals to representatives of the organs of state power and local self-government, to Ukrainian and international community expressing anxiety about the increase of the facts of exertion of pressure on the heads of the organs of local self-government, including rural and villages councils, by local state administrations of the Chernigiv oblast with the goal to provide the political support to the only candidate from power during presidential election in Ukraine. We are also worried by the quantity of facts of the pressure on students and application of administrative pressure in higher education establishments of Ukraine in the course of pre-election agitation. The described tendencies may interfere with holding of free and honest presidential election in Ukraine and violate the international standards in this sphere.

According to information obtained by us from many districts of the oblast, the heads of organs of local self-government underwent the considerable administrative pressure during last two months. Some of these officials informed us that their future tenure of office depended on the results of presidential election. The workers of the organs of local self-government complained that they were threatened with dismissal and repressive actions in the case, if they would not give priority conditions to the candidate supported by local administration. There are some complaints against the pressure upon citizens put by law-enforcing organs.

Since the middle of July the number of such appeals has increased. In our opinion, it concurred with the collection of voters’ signatures in the support of candidates.

The ChPCHRP considers the application of such pressure on voters as violation of human rights, which provokes atmosphere of fear in community and restricts the human right to fair elections.

We proclaim that the coercive involvement of local self-government officials in agitation campaign, as well as exertion of pressure on voters, are contrary to Articles 34, 38 of the Constitution of Ukraine, Law of Ukraine “On election of the President of Ukraine”, and violate item 1 of Article 10 of the European Convention of human rights and Article 3 of the Protocol to this Convention.

During last months the Committee also received information from students about the exertion of pressure upon them and teaching staff on the side of direction of the educational establishments with the goal to prevent free and independent participation of students in the election process. The cases were fixed, where premises and resources of educational establishments were used for needs of some candidates’ headquarters.

We certify that during last time the attempts have been observed to restrict the realization of students’ political rights and freedoms, namely: the freedom of thought and speech, freedom of choice and the freedom of peaceful assembly (Article 39 of the Constitution of Ukraine). The double standard is applied in the cases of such restriction, when students’ participation in some political actions is restricted, on the one hand, and they are made to take part in other actions, on the other hand.

For instance, the Chernigiv oblast organization of Ukrainian Students’ Association turned to the ChPCHRP with the complaint about the restriction of the freedom of choice. In particular, the facts were mentioned of administrative pressure on students in Nezhin State Pedagogical University named after Nikolay Gogol. Mr.Yakovets, the rector of the university, who is an empowered person of candidate Viktor Yanukovich in constituency No. 211, stated, at a meeting with teaching staff, about the prohibitions of political agitation in the university during the all period of the election.

The ChPCHRP regards the above-mentioned fact as violation of Articles 34, 39 and 67 of the Constitution of Ukraine, Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights and Article 3 of the Protocol to the European Convention of human rights. The prohibition of agitation in the higher educational establishment during pre-election period restricts the constitutional rights of citizens to the freedom of speech and thought, freedom of expression and freedom of choice. According to Article 64 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the constitutional human and civil rights may be restricted only after court decision or in cases directly stipulated by law.

Besides, the prohibition of agitation during election may be considered as restriction of the right to information. It also may be an attempt of the empowered person of the candidate to create the conditions for prevention of agitation in favor of other candidates.

The above-mentioned facts give grounds for concern of representatives of our organization over the level of democracy and transparency of the election process and voters’ rights.

Ukraine, being a participant of the European Convention of human rights, Concluding Act of the Helsinki Agreement on safety and cooperation in Europe of 1975 and Copenhagen Agreement of 1990, assumed the obligations to observe the international agreements, including standards on the conduction of election. We’re sure that only free election without fear and the refusal of authorities from the methods of administrative pressure will confirm that Ukraine fulfills its international obligations.

We also state that free participation of citizens in agitation campaign in accordance with own opinion and beliefs, as well as their free expression, are the characteristics of fair election in the democratic state.

We denounce the attempts of power to use the potential of the organs of local self-government and administrations of educational establishments in favor of some candidates.

We appeal to representatives of state power, local self-government and administrations of educational establishments not to be guided by temporary political goals, to observe the laws of Ukraine, to respect the fundamental rights and freedoms and to allow the citizens of Ukraine to make free choice!

Members of the Chernigiv Public Committee of Human Rights Protection

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