Ten steps aimed at improving the human rights situation in Ukraine
An open letter to the Prime Minister and honourable members of the Cabinet of Ministers
The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union congratulates you on the formation of a government and would like to propose a number of specific steps aimed at defending, respecting and ensuring human rights and fundamental freedoms in Ukraine.
1. Measures to reduce poverty
Effective use is needed in the first instance of the results of economic growth, as well as reform of the social protection system by clearly stipulating the target of benefits and reducing their number; sharply differentiating between social protection and social insurance; removing discrimination in allocating pensions, as well as other measures.
2. Making public unlawfully classified Cabinet of Ministers Resolutions and Instructions from previous years designated “Not to be printed”.
It is these documents which contain information about corrupt dealings, unlawful benefits, privileges and other preferential treatment for high-ranking public officials. These include the following:
- Resolution No. 1210 from 06.08.03 On servicing the sanatoriums “Koncha-Zaspa” and “Pushcha-Vodytsa” for specific categories of individuals and pensioners;
- Resolution No. 838 from 05.07.04 “On approving the list of enterprises which are exempted from paying land tax in 2004, and the size of their pieces of land” (with all subsequent amendments and additions);
- Instruction No. 688 from 12.12.02 “On the transfer free of charge of the integrated property complex of the former aerodrome of military aviation in the village of Havrysh into the common property of territorial communities”
- Instruction No. 131 from 12.03.03 “On the transfer of integrated property complexes of military sanatoriums”;
- Instruction No. 196 from 04.04.03 “On allocating funds for the completion of construction of refrigeration boats”;
- Instruction No. 372 from 20.06.03 “On the sale of military real estate of the Security Service of Ukraine”;
- Instruction No. 480 from 06.08.03 “On the customs formalities and registrations of tractors delivered to the address of the health sanatorium – the closed joint stock company “Zoloti Pisky” [“Golden sands”];
- Instruction No. 543 from 27.08.03 “On a permit for taking a vehicle outside the territory of Ukraine”
- Instruction No. 22 from 20.01.04 “Some issues involving remuneration for judges”
- Instruction No. 23 from 20.01.04 “Some questions involving the payment for the work of prosecutors and the investigation bodies of the prosecutors office”
- Instruction No. 196 from 11.03.04 “On the transfer to the State Department of Affairs of authority to manage a packet of shares of the joint stock company “Hotel Dnipro”
- Instruction No. 397 from 18.06.04 “On the transfer of means of transportation confiscated by the decision of the courts”
- Instruction No. 694 from 22.12.04 “On the transfer of health complexes”
- Instruction No. 931 from 22.12.04 “On the transfer of State residences No. 6 and 8”.
A full list of the 295 such acts of the Cabinet of Ministers for 2001-2005 can be found at: http://www.khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1145710178
3. Input the names of Cabinet of Ministers acts with the stamp “For official use only” into computerized legal systems and scrutinize the justification for the said documents being classified.
4. Create registers of normative acts passed by the Cabinet of Ministers and central authorities which are available to the public.
5. Submit for the Verkhovna Radas consideration a draft law on amendments and additions to the Law “On information” which guarantees access to information according to international standards in this area..
A similar draft law was drawn up by human rights organizations in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice back in 2004-2006, however instead of submitting it, the Cabinet of Ministers created a concept plan in 2007 for a new law on information which does not withstand criticism.
6. Submit for the Verkhovna Radas consideration a draft law on peaceful assembly, drawn up by human rights organizations, which takes into consideration case law of the European Court of Human Rights. In the absence of such a law, the state authorities and bodies of local self-government, as well as the courts, continue to use normative acts of the former USSR which are in contravention of Article 39 of the Ukrainian Constitution.
7. Revoke the Cabinet of Ministers Resolution No. 858 from 26 June 2007 “On approving the technical description and sample form for a Ukrainian citizens foreign travel passport, and on introducing amendments to some acts of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine” which envisages passports only of the new model.
These passports contain chips containing biometric information, as well as other personal data. The government has effectively decided to “share” all private information about its nationals with other countries which will receive all the information about a person when he or she crosses the border. The new procedure for issuing passports introduced by the Ministry of Internal Affairs is the result of the monopoly on producing and issuing passports held by the private corporation SSAPS which now controls the register for Ukrainian nationals with all personal data. This violates the right to privacy and is unacceptable in a democratic country. All these functions should be the exclusive domain of State authorities. These passports also fail to comply with the requirements of the European Union regarding machine-readable documents and will still need to be changed by 2010.
8. Revoke the Cabinet of Ministers Resolution No. 11698 from 26 September 2007 “On approving Rules of procedure for gaining court warrants to carry out measures temporarily restricting human rights and use of the information obtained.”
At present the actions of the operation subdivisions in monitoring communications (wiretapping, tapping of mobile phones, tracking emails, monitoring traffic in the Internet) are to a large measure unlawful since there is no law setting down clear procedure for providing and reviewing warrants for carrying out such operational investigations, the timeframe for such actions, the rules for the use of the information received. Furthermore the present safeguards of legality when carrying out such measures are clearly inadequate. The Resolution is therefore unlawful. Changes must be prepared to legislation allowing for independent control over the activities of the bodies involved in communications interceptions.
9. Reform the State Department for the Execution of Sentences, turning it into a civilian service which is a structural subdivision of the Ministry of Justice with retention of all benefits for staff of the Department.
10. Immediately cancel Order of the State Department for the Execution of Sentences № 167 from 10 October 2005.
According to this Order, there is a special anti-terrorist unit within the Department which is used for carrying out searches of prisoners and penal institutions and pre-trial detention centres, and effectively for intimidating those deprived of their liberty. This Order is illegal.
The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union would like to express its willingness to cooperate with the new government in order to achieve the above-mentioned goals.
We will at the same time still help the victims of human rights infringements and criticize the Government if there continues to be disregard for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the principles of the rule of law.
Head of the UHHRU Board