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17.08.2005

100 days of the new government through the prism of human rights

   

First three months of activity of the new government of Ukraine have given the possibility to analyze the basic tendencies of development of situation in Ukraine, including human rights. Three months ago we sent a letter to the President of Ukraine, in which letter we stated the position of human rights protecting organizations regarding the changes and reforms, which had to be realized for minimization of violations of human rights in Ukraine. Actually, none of our proposals was taken into consideration in full.

In general, we regard as positive bringing to account the persons, who have participated in falsifications of the election results during the recent presidential election and exerted pressure on voters. Yet, one sees that only individual ordinary executers of criminal orders on falsification of the election process are punished, while the organizers of these actions remain unpunished. At the same time, there is a lack of equality of approaches to violations in different regions of Ukraine and systemic actions directed to improvement of the condition of election. We suppose that in case of violation of the right for free election, impunity is a guarantee of further violations of electoral rights and distortion of people’s will, particularly, at parliamentary election.

We welcome the government’s intention to realize the right presupposed by Article 46 of the Constitution of Ukraine, which provides pensions and other kinds of social maintenance in the amount ensuring the living standard not lower than cost of living. Poverty of a considerable part of population of the state was a disgraceful phenomenon at the time of the previous government. At the same time the fiscal policy of the state has not changed. The tax militia, as the main infringer of human rights and a symbol of political persecutions in the past, has had to cease its existence, what was promised by many officials, but it continues to realize a wide circle of activities, including the ODA, which often lead to ungrounded meddling in private life and restriction of other freedoms in the country.

Human rights protecting organizations of Ukraine welcome the changes, which have happened in the sphere of mass media, though there are no guarantees of fixing or developing this positive tendency. There is plurality of opinions in all media sectors, most of national TV and radio broadcasters keep balance in informational materials, although elements of manipulation with information still remain. We do not know any facts of pressure on journalists on the side of central government, the state mass media gradually get rid of the biased-positive attitude to the government traditional for them. Local government continues to put pressure upon mass media. Unfortunately, a comprehensible position concerning the establishment of public broadcasting and privatization of state mass media has not been elaborated until now. We believe that appropriate reforms in the sphere of TV and radio broadcasting should be carried out before the beginning of the electoral campaign-2005.

 

10 questions, which especially alarm human rights protecting organizations:

1. The constitutional system of Ukraine needs changes, but not the changes envisaged by the approved law draft No. 4180. We support the expansion of functions of parliamentary control (although draft 4180 actually does not intensify it), but protest against imperative mandate and Soviet rudiment in the form of prosecutor’s supervision. The Constitution should also be amended in order to ratify the Statute of the International criminal court. We consider as illogical and irresponsible the further keeping by Yulia Timoshenko and Oleksandr Turchynov of signatures of deputies under the presentation to the Constitutional court of Ukraine. Obvious violation of the procedure of approval of constitutional amendments should be appropriately evaluated by the Constitutional court of Ukraine.

2. We accepted with indignation the veto imposed by the President of Ukraine on the Code of administrative legal procedure approved by the Supreme Rada of Ukraine. The President’s arguments consist in the necessity of restriction of individual’s right to appeal against normative decisions of the President of Ukraine. While in Ukraine there is no right for direct individual constitutional claim in case of violation of constitutional rights of a person, we consider such position as unacceptable and support the decision of the Committee of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine on legal policy on overcoming President’s veto. We appeal to the President of Ukraine to revise his position and approve necessary staff decisions concerning the activities of his Secretariat, which caused introduction of the policy incompatible with human rights, and his actions, in particular.

3. The promises of informational openness, transparency and government’s accountability to the society, which were given on Maydan during the Orange revolution, mostly remained unrealized. The President and the government of Ukraine continue illegal using of classifications “not for publishing” and “not for printing”, refuse to disclose illegally concealed decisions of Kuchma’s government. The prosecutor’s office still does not make public its normative decisions and does not register them in the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine. Such actions make us resort to active deeds for conduction of the campaign for informational openness of the government, including judicial protection of the right for information.

4. The absence of respect of the government to the right for property increases distrust to the state both of Ukrainian citizens and international community. Every change of government must not mean redistribution of property. We regard as inadequate and illegal the statements of the state leaders about returning property to state ownership without appropriate court decisions, which have come to force, and moreover the creation of lists of enterprises for re-privatization, which violates the principle of person’s innocence before the guilt has been proved in court.

5. There is a lack of understanding of the importance of judicial system, and its financing remains unsatisfactory. The initiative of Prime-minister of Ukraine Yulia Timoshenko to involve sponsor’s costs for financing of courts clearly demonstrates the absence of mechanisms of conceptual understanding of functioning of the judicial government and attitude to court as an independent full-fledged power branch. In addition, financing of courts, as it was during the period of L. Kuchma’s ruling, is fully controlled by the executive branch of power, what substantially violates the principle of separation of powers. We also believe that the inclusion of the Head of the Supreme Court of Ukraine to the Council of national safety and defense of Ukraine by the Resolution of the President is a violation of the principle of separation of powers.

6. There are no initiatives on systematic reforming of law-enforcing organs in the sphere of criminal legal procedure. Staff renewal cannot democratize the system without the changes of functions and authorities of the system of the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine, the Security Service of Ukraine and prosecutor’s office. Unfortunately, in most cases the staff renewal lied in rotation of cadres, particularly on local level. It is proved by cases of appointment by the new government to responsible posts of persons, who participated, in 2004, in persecution of representatives of the opposition. The Committee of the Supreme Rada on legislative provision of law-enforcing organs still tries to “push through” the draft of the Criminal-procedural code elaborated by the government, which draft is based on the model of the Soviet inquisitional criminal legal procedure. The law-enforcing organs still regard as their merit the wide application of preventive measure in the form of taking into custody, especially in resonant cases, where famous politicians are involved. We reckon that the practice of pre-trial imprisonment contradicts the modern European standards on observing the right for liberty and personal immunity, unless it is reasoned by accusation of committing a grave or especially grave crime.

7. Oleksandr Turchynov, the head of the Security Service of Ukraine, stated about the disclosed facts of illegal wiretapping of telephone talks of leaders of the political opposition during Kuchma’s times. At the same time there are no initiatives, which could make the activities of law-enforcing organs accountable to the society, including the questions of information interchange. The Security Service of Ukraine continues to introduce the system of monitoring of telecommunications via several Internet providers. Order No. 122 of the State committee of communication, introducing the control over users of the Internet, still acts because of the wish of the USS to preserve this form of control over the society. The USS continues to use the “black lists” of people undesirable to visit Ukraine. These lists contain the names of the opponents of authoritarian regimes, for example, the Buddhism monk Dzunsey Terasava, famous for his criticism of military crimes of Russian troops in Chechnya, who was admitted to Ukraine only under pressure of the community.

8. Human rights organizations still receive complaints against the application of torture and cruel treatment during inquiry and pre-trial investigation. The efficient measures for counteraction to militia’s tortures are not introduced until now. Consideration of the complaints against the actions of law-enforcing organs is, as a rule, perfunctory and preconceived. It is significant that most of citizens’ appeals to the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine are received in the form of complaints against the actions of bodies of the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine and considerably exceed the number of claims about crimes.

9. We regard as fundamentally incorrect the position stated by Roman Zvarych, the Minister of Justice of Ukraine, concerning preservation of the existing system of legal aid, when the state actually does not pay for lawyers’ work in case of providing gratis service. The current system needs immediate and radical reforming, since it violates the right for access to justice and rendering of efficient legal aid to poor layers of population.

10. The right for peaceful assemblies, guaranteed by the Constitution, is violated in Ukraine. The power bodies of Kyiv are especially sensitive to critical statements during peaceful assemblies. The attacks on the tent camp and administrative detention of public activists have not remained only the chronicle of illegal actions of the old government, but are happening in Kyiv in May 2005. Active realization by citizens of the right for free expression of views and peaceful assemblies resulted in the change of government in 2004. We appeal to the President, the government and the local power to respect these fundamental rights.

Evhen Zakharov

Head of the Board of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

 

Short information about “Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union”. The purpose of creation and functioning of the Association is provision and protection of the rights and fundamental freedoms through ensuring of practical execution of the humanitarian articles of the Helsinki Final Act (1975) of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OCSE), other documents adopted as its follow-up, and all other obligations taken by Ukraine in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Members of the Association:

1.  Vinnitsa City Public Organization “Vinnitsa Human Rights Group”

2.  Ukrainian Community of Political Prisoners and Repressed, including Committee “Helsinki-90”.

3.  Public Committee for Protection Citizens Rights and Freedoms (Lugansk)

4.  Ecological Club “EOL” (Odessa region)

5.  Economic and Social Problems Institute “Respublika” (Kyiv)

6.  Congress of National Communities of Ukraine

7.  Youth Public Organization Legal and Political Research Center “ SIM” (Lviv)

8.  City Public Organization “For Professional Help” (Poltava Region)

9.  Sevastopol Human Rights Group

10.  Kharkov Regional Union of Soldiers Mothers

11.  Kharkov Human Rights protection Group

12.  Kherson City Reporter’s Association “Pivden”

13.  Kherson Regional Organization of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine

14.  Center of Regional Politics Research

15.  Chernigiv Public Committee of Human Rights Protection

Well-known participants of the Helsinki movement in Ukrainian were elected to the Supervisory board of the Association: Josyp Zisels, Vasyl Ovsienko, Vasyl Lisovy, Mykola Gorbal, Evhen Sverstiuk, Zinoviy Antoniuk and Evhen Proniuk.

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