16.11.2006 | Halya Coynash

Once upon a time there was a Human Rights Ombudsperson


Speaker of Parliament Oleksandr Moroz sternly warned his coalition allies from the Party of the Regions on Monday that it was time to stop stalling and to decide whether Nina Karpachova was a State Deputy or (after all) Human Rights Ombudsperson.  Away from the journalists one suspects the conversation was a bit simpler.  More on the lines of: Come on, toss a coin: heads she stays with you, tails – she remains the Ombudsperson.  What’s the difference, anyway?

Having attempted rational argument on innumerable occasions, perhaps it’s time for the human rights community, and all those unwilling to part so easily with democratic mechanisms, to ask some childishly simple questions.  I would suggest sending – but also immediately publicizing - these as formal requests for information, sent to the Secretariat of the Human Rights Ombudsperson, to the Verkhovna Rada, the Cabinet of Ministers to the Prosecutor General and the President of Ukraine.

The questions, like those a child puts, need no convoluted answers.  Nor should there be any embarrassment at asking something so “obvious”.  The time for embarrassment passed around a year ago when Nina Karpachova, then Human Rights Ombudsperson, joined the candidate list for the Party of the Regions, and most categorically 10 days after her election to the Verkhovna Rada back in March when, as stipulated in Article 8 of the Law on the Human Rights Ombudsperson, she failed to remove this flagrant conflict of interests.

The first most fundamental question, then, should be: Who is the Authorised Human Rights Representative of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (the Human Rights Ombudsperson)?

If the answer is “Nobody”, then why have there been no efforts to appoint somebody? (When was Article 6 of the Law on the Human Rights Ombudsperson, demanding this appointment, revoked or amended?

If the answer is “Nina Karpachova”, then:

When was Article 8 of the Law on the Human Rights Ombudsperson, expressly prohibiting the Ombudsperson from holding a representative’s mandate, revoked or amended? 

Why is it up to the Party of the Regions to effectively decide who the Ukrainian Human Rights Ombudsperson is?  And if it is up to them, when were the appropriate amendments introduced to the Constitution of Ukraine?

The questions, in fact, could come in torrents: How can anybody, including Nina Karpachova, be seriously suggesting that she can now hold the vital role of Human Rights Ombudsperson?  Does she really not understand herself how impossible this is?  How could anybody feel confident in her impartiality and independence? 

And the saddest – and at the same time, most burning - question of all is why are we silent when Ukrainian laws are so totally and brazenly flaunted?

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