Monitoring human rights in the Odessa region
On 31 January a press conference called by the Odessa Regional Section of the All-Ukrainian Civic Organization “The Committee of Voters of Ukraine” presented the results of their project “Monitoring of the observance of human rights and promoting their defence in the Odessa region – 2006”
The project is no chance undertaking, since human rights activities are an integral part of the activities of our civic organization. In 2005 we successfully completed a similar project.
This project began in July 2006. It was aimed at systematically monitoring how human rights are observed in the Odessa region, at informing the public both about their rights and the level to which they are being complied with, and ensuring protection of these rights in the Odessa region.
The monitoring was carried out by gathering and analyzing information regarding violations of constitutional rights and liberties of people in the region, making formal requests for information from the authorities on the basis of data from our public reception centre, as well as analyzing publications in the mass media.
In implementing this project we hope for constructive cooperation with civic organizations, the mass media and all those who are interested in ensuring that human rights are safeguarded in our region.
To receive statistical information and determine the main trends as far as rights violations are concerned, as well as to analyze the situation with access to information, the projects lawyer prepared 55 formal requests for information which were sent to law enforcement agencies, executive bodies, bodies of local self-government and other official institutions in the Odessa region. We received 48 responses. 3 of these were refusals to provide information, in 10 the information was given in part and only 10 provided it in full.
The least open structures, as previously, were the law enforcement agencies, the prosecutors office and the courts.
On 6 December as part of the project a roundtable was held in Odessa on observance of human rights at the regional level. This was attended by members of human rights organizations from the Luhansk, Mykolaiv, Odessa, Rivne and Kherson regions, the departments for housing and communal services and for healthcare of the Odessa City Council, the central department of employment and social policy of the Odessa Regional Administration and the media.
We also invited representatives of the prosecutors offices in Odessa and the Odessa region, as well as the city department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the department of healthcare and medicine of the Odessa Regional Administration, however these for reasons unknown to us ignored our invitation.
Information was presented at the roundtable about the human rights situation in the regions mentioned. In addition, the participants discussed ways and mechanisms for improving the situation. The suggestion was put forward that the post of regional ombudsperson be created through the appropriate decision being taken by the Regional Council, and that a council and / or association of civic organizations be formed to coordinate their efforts on protecting human rights.
As part of the project, a public reception centre gathered information about violations of human rights and also provided free legal consultations. The centre can be contacted everyday except weekends and public holidays by telephone 743-70-13 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the 6 months of the project the centre was approached by around 400 people, and documentary evidence was received of over 80 rights violations. In comparison with a year earlier, the number turning to the centre had doubled, and the geographical range had broadened, with more than a third living in the Odessa region.
We also carried out an analysis of actual practice in applying the Code of Administrative Justice of Ukraine in order to defend human rights.
An analytical report about the human rights situation in the Odessa region has been put together and published on the basis of our findings.
Since this project is part of an undertaking on a much larger scale – “Human Rights in Ukraine – 2006, our report will be included within the nationwide report of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group and Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, which will be widely published both in Ukraine and abroad.
The project was supported by the Democracy Fund of the US Embassy in Kyiv.
The Press Service of the Odessa Regional Section of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine