The Post of Human Rights Ombudsperson must not form a part of coalition deals
Open Appeal to the President of Ukraine and State Deputies of Ukraine
Mr President and honourable State Deputies of Ukraine,
Ukrainian nongovernmental human rights organizations are extremely concerned that as a result of the recently signed coalition agreement (of Deputy factions in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine) and the “full” consensus reached between them regarding the distribution of posts in the coalition government, one of the positions thus shared out was that of the office of Human Rights Representative of the Verkhovna Rada (the Human Rights Ombudsperson).
While welcoming the conclusion of a drawn-out process of negotiations on forming a coalition, and the achievement of a shared political position between a majority of the newly-elected members of the Verkhovna Rada, we feel it necessary, nonetheless, to point out the following.
1. The institution of Human Rights Ombudsperson is intended to carry out parliamentary control over the observance of constitutional human rights and f fundamental freedoms and to protect the rights of each person on the territory of Ukraine within its jurisdiction. This means defending the rights of each Ukrainian citizen or foreign national, stateless person, refugee, etc under any combination of political forces in power, and regardless of the political representation in state executive bodies. The politicizing of this institution of parliamentary control over constitutional human rights and f fundamental freedoms is dangerous, both for the defence of human rights, and as an inadmissible practice for any law-based democratic state.
2. Only confidence and respect for the Human Rights Ombudsperson, both from members of the public, and from state authorities and public officials can ensure that his/her human rights work is effective. Such confidence and respect in turn are based on such fundamental principles as independence and impartiality. The combining of political and human rights activities must inevitably lead to infringements of these principles. Moreover, without independence, and first and foremost political non-partisanship, the very functioning of the institution of Human Rights Ombudsperson is to a large extent placed in jeopardy since any doubts as to the independence and impartiality of the Human Rights Ombudsperson will result in this important human rights institution in the country being compromised.
3. Making the position of Human Rights Ombudsperson a political post and assigning it out according to quotas between members of the coalition is not merely illegal, but also a telling example of abuse of the law in general. After all, a coalition of Deputy factions in the Verkhovna Rada, according to Article 83 of the Constitution of Ukraine, is empowered to put forward for the consideration of the President of Ukraine only candidates for the office of Prime Minister and for members of the Cabinet of Ministers. It is clear that the position of Human Rights Ombudsperson cannot under any circumstances be regarded as a government post, since the main function of the Human Rights Ombudsperson remains specifically to oversee the activities of executive and other state bodies with regard to observance of human rights and civil liberties. In our opinion, as a special state body, the institution of Human Rights Ombudsperson is the most important independent component within the structure of Ukrainian civic society.
In Ukraine there is no other special independent state institution for the protection of human rights and civil liberties. The decision taken by the coalition parties to include the position of Human Rights Ombudsperson in the list of posts being divided out under a coalition agreement of political factions is illegitimate, against the law , and will also lead to the collapse of the principles of independence and impartiality of this authoritative state human rights body.
In order to prevent the further course of events descending into total absurdity and to return the institution of Human Rights Ombudsperson its proper apolitical character, we call on:
the President of Ukraine, as Guarantor of the Constitution of Ukraine, and of observance of human rights and civil liberties, to urgently take all necessary measures to impede the election of a new Human Rights Ombudsperson in contravention of the spirit and letter of the Constitution of Ukraine, of the norms of other legal acts as well as, quite simple, basic common sense, and to force the coalition members to abandon the very idea of considering the position of Human Rights Ombudsperson to be a political post;
all State Deputies of Ukraine, and in the first instance those members of the factions party to the recently formed coalition:
- to introduce amendments to the coalition agreement in order to ensure that the position of Human Rights Ombudsperson is removed from coalition arrangements, and does not became the object of political bargaining;
– to ensure all necessary consultations in the future with the human rights community on putting forward candidates for the position of Human Rights Ombudsperson.
All of the above-said applies also to the positions of Head of the Accounting Chamber, Head of the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine, and of the Head of the Antimonopoly Committee.
The Kyiv Judicial Society
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
The Vinnytsa Human Rights Group
The Sevastopol Human Rights Group
The Civic Organization "For Professional assistance"
The Kherson Regional Fund for Charity and Health
The Kherson City Association of Journalists “Pivden” [“South”]
The Environmental Civic Organization "Zeleny svit" [“Green World”] (Chortkiv, Ternopil region)
The Charitable Organization “The Womens Human Rights Centre (Chernihiv)
The Rule of Law Foundation
The Civic Organization “MART”
The Civic Committee for the Protection of Constitutional Rights and Civil Liberties (Luhansk)
CO "Legal Education Centre (Kalush, Ivano-Frankivsk region)
The Kirovohrad Association “Civic Initiative”
The Sumy Regional Branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine
The Konotop Society “Dignity”
The Congress of National Communities of Ukraine
The Civic Office "Pravozakhyst" [“Human rights protection”] (Sumy)
The Luhansk Regional Branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine
The Severodonetsk City Environmental Organization "Zeleny svit"