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20.09.2006 | Halya Coynash

Missing one Human Rights Ombudsperson

   

The ways of the present Verkhovna Rada and some of its members still continue to baffle the uninitiated – those among us who, for example, fail to understand why some are in fact still deputies.  We were told, after all, months ago now by deputies of the Party of the Regions positively choking with righteous indignation that they would resign if their fellow “Regions” member Mr Kalashnikov – of criminal bully tactics notoriety – were not removed.  Yes, well. All present for duty?

In fact my bemusement is this time, on the contrary, related to one Deputy who appears to be more than present for duty, or, more accurately, appears ready for all too many duties.

Once upon a time Ukraine had a Human Rights Ombudsperson.  An important position this, not only because human rights are so very much in need of protection, but because the number of people who believe that their rights are being abused does not, unfortunately, always reflect the number of actual human rights violations.  Human rights organizations do not automatically defend each person who approaches them alleging various forms of abuse.  They investigate the situation – calmly and objectively.  However then, just as objectively, they defend those whose rights have been violated, regardless of any extraneous factors, these including political affiliations.

Once upon a time this vital role was performed not by human rights organizations alone, but by the Human Rights Ombudsperson. 

Until one fine day, or not so fine, but be that as it may, the said person decided to seek new pastures and bloom in fields of political activity.

Nobody, least of all human rights activists, would venture to deny a person’s right to take such decisions.  Human rights organizations have, however, strongly suggested (http://khpg.org/index.php?id=1139496756 ) for a long time now that the position of Human Rights Ombudsperson must be entirely separate from political engagement.

With all due respect to the confusingly either current or former Human Rights Ombudsperson, it is entirely inappropriate for a person holding such a position to also be a State Deputy of the Verkhovna Rada regardless of party affiliations.

Nina Karpachova did - regrettably and quite unconstitutionally only after her election to parliament - say that she would step down.  Months have passed, and not only have no decisions been taken by the Verkhovna Rada to appoint her successor, but this last weekend she publicly expressed her indignation at not being allowed to observe the elections in the Trans-Dniester region of Moldova in her capacity (?!) as Human Rights Ombudsperson.

I repeat that I am not criticizing Ms Karpachova.  I would however respectfully suggest that the Verkhovna Rada’s failure to respond to this extraordinary situation and appoint a person who will stand removed from party politics and watch over all situations involving human rights abuse is placing this extremely important position, and Ukraine’s reputation, in jeopardy.

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