Appeal from the Luhansk Regional Branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine to State Deputies from the Luhansk region
Esteemed State Deputies,
The Verkhovna Rada must soon make one of its most important decisions in the area of human rights by electing a new Human Rights Ombudsperson.
The Luhansk Regional Branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine is a human rights organization which carries out its activities on the basis of non-party affiliation. We have always upheld the civic rights of all people, regardless of their political leanings. Our activities at least to some extent were useful to members of all parties who are now represented in the Verkhovna Rada.
We mention this purely to draw the attention of the honourable Deputies to the fact that each person has the right to have his or her rights protected in equal measure, with no election results able to alter this. There is at present a serious danger that the Human Rights Ombudsperson will be appointed by a part of the Verkhovna Rada (regardless which) in order to gain advantage for themselves in parliaments interpretation of instances of human rights abuse and selective and politically motivated coverage of such facts for political motives. The outcome of the 2006 elections showed that manipulation of human rights issues can give significant, if only temporary, political mileage.
We would warn you that such an approach is extremely dangerous, and for everybody as it is based on the willingness to sacrifice the inalienability (and unequivocal nature) of human rights for the sake of short-term interests. And since there is nothing less insecure than power, than those who today want to gain political dividends from the position of Human Rights Ombudsperson, could themselves tomorrow need basic defence of their rights. Not only of their rights, but of their relatives and friends.
The Luhansk Regional Branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine would ask you as representatives of the Luhansk region in the Verkhovna Rada to not take part in political sharing out of the post of the Human Rights Ombudsperson. We are convinced that this office must remain separate from politics and party interests. General human interests must suffice.
It is therefore vital that a person be elected to the office of Human Rights Ombudsperson who stands separate from all parties and who is well-known in Ukraine for specific human rights work, who has authority both among Ukrainians, and abroad. Most important, it is a fundamental prerequisite that the chosen person have an independent outlook. There are such people in Ukraine.
Our organization, on its part, would ask you to pay attention to the candidacy of Yevhen Zakharov, a prominent human rights defender in Ukraine and a person who is principled and not affiliated to any party.
We are convinced that Zakharov would be a worthy Human Rights Ombudsperson who would uphold the rights of each person regardless of their political views, without allowing any partiality or lack of scruples.
However our letter is not intended to lobby a specific candidate. We have merely named one candidate whom we know of and whose quality we can be in no doubt of. The main thing today is to make sure that the Human Rights Ombudsperson is not used to gain any political privileges which would be all too dangerous for each citizen of our country.
Oleksiy Svyetikov, Head of the Board
The Luhansk Regional Branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine