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12.10.2006 | Ihor Hulyk

Save the office of Human Rights Ombudsperson!

   

The fleet of “unsinkable” politicians of today’s Ukraine, and one could gather a whole army of them, can quite confidently be joined by deputy from the Party of the Regions Nina Karpachova. Her resume is an incredible and convincing illustration of the devaluation of the moral principles of the present power elite, of the double standards with which the so-called “democratic” leaders try to measure the most fundamental concept for civilized nations of “human rights”. No, more, the legislator Nina Karpachova, like at the end of the day legions of her colleagues, can serve as a model of banal selective use of the law when one is speaking of the needs of the moment and so-called political expediency. Karpachova in her position as Human Rights Ombudsperson (the Authorised Human Rights Representative of the Verkhovna Rada) was used as a tool when they needed to protect the imprisoned Boris Kolesnikov from the “Orange Marat” Yury Lutsenko (I would direct those readers with short memories to the writing of Viktor Yanukovych entitled “A year in opposition” which had a mere thousand copy print run).  Then for some reason nobody noticed that the “first defender of human rights” was for some reason in second position on the candidate list of the “Donetsk party”.

With regard to the principled position of the Human Rights Ombudsperson, one need only look at the number of contradictory statements she gave to the regulation committee of the Verkhovna Rada when she was elected to parliament. The first document concerned her intention to reject her deputy powers and devote herself entirely to the human rights realm (in which, clearly, her steed was not just lying about). Then the committee received yet another submission from Nina Karpachova, this time on her wish to remain in the deputy rows.

There is talk that it was then that the doubting Human Rights Ombudsperson or simply “capricious woman” saw the prospect of holding the office of vice-speaker of parliament dangle before her. However when the party bosses decided that there were worthier and more deserving candidates from the ranks of the “Regionals”, Ms Karpachova wrote her third epistle to the effect that it was God’s will that she be a defender of human rights.

Such political manoeuvres from the Human Rights Ombudsperson who, by definition, must be a person of firm principles, places in question the unambiguous stance of the Law on the Human Rights Ombudsperson. I would quote certain extracts, for example, from Article 8: “The Human Rights Ombudsperson may not hold a representative’s mandate or occupy any other office in state bodies of power. S/he may not be a member of any political party…. If within the stipulated period the Human Rights Ombudsperson does not comply with the established requirements, her / his powers shall be suspended and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine shall be bound to dismiss her / him from office”.

The prominent human rights activist and Head of the Board of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Yevhen Zakharov, in my opinion very clearly stated the reason allowing for such actions by high-ranking state officials which are entirely inappropriate for a law-based state. “The subjectivism of Ukrainian politicians, the impression they have that they can do what they like in order to achieve their ends is extremely dangerous for the country”, he writes in his article ““It will all come true tomorrow” – “It is this that the political forces of all shades, as well as all branches of power, especially legislative and executive are guilty of”. Only the totally lethargic among those in power do not grab at the opportunity to “do what they feel like” with disregard for laws, and sometimes also for commonsense.  Total corruption has changed the state mechanism into a terrifying, all-consuming octopus whose tentacles reach into all nooks and crannies.  Attempts to neutralize this hideous monstrosity after Maidan (remember “Criminals to prison!”) proved useless, not least because of such “Ombudspersons” like Ms Karphachova,

And how many crimes which the police solved have disappeared into the recesses of prosecutor’s office desks! I will not say for ever since Ukrainian society has already had occasion not once and not twice to feel assured that forgotten folders with compromising material from time to time emerge during entirely predictable waves – before the elections or when the hero of such manuscripts has got out of control or is undertaking the “creation of his/her own political image”.

The case of Human Rights Ombudsperson Nina Karpachova must become the test not only of the first steps in opposition of “Nasha Ukraina” – if it does in fact want to earn the status of a constructive opposition. The case of the Ombudsperson will be the litmus test of the maturity of the civic society, since this office is that of the most authoritative defender of human rights. That at least is what it should be.

 

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