The Ukrainian Human Rights Ombudspersons “extensive work”
According to the Ombudspersons press service, the Ambassador for Norway gains his knowledge of the “extensive work” done by the Ombudsperson from her official website.
Over the last two weeks the monitoring group gathered more than 50 human rights-related reports. Most were pretty negative: about the AIDS epidemic in Ukraine being the worst in countries of Europe and Central Asia; about those authorities heightening tension in the Crimea and many others. Most of the upbeat stories were about plans for the future.
There were a couple of cheering exceptions with the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Unions appeal over the young lad Ivan Keivan finally achieving some results (http://www.khpg.org.ua/en/index.php?id=1204465911). See also “Congratulations, youre not in the running” (http://www.khpg.org.ua/en/index.php?id=1204285258 ).
Only five of the items concerned the work of the Ombudsperson. Three meetings held with the management of the SBU [Security Service}, a meeting with the Serbian Ambassador, a submission to the President on creating a State Migration Service, and a statement about temporarily suspending action on lodging a submission with the Constitutional Court on unconstitutional norms in legislation on tender procurement. This is what the Ombudspersons website reports over the last two weeks.
To this modest list, we would add one response from the Ombudspersons Secretariat to an information request from the “Maidan” legal advisor, Oleksandr Severyn. The response is negative, with the refusal to provide information about the work of the Ombudsperson being justified on the grounds that the law does not bind the Ombudsperson to reply to information requests and prohibits the public from interfering in the Ombudspersons work. Mr Severyn is however advised to acquaint himself with her work on the official website.
Perhaps in response to information in last months monitoring report suggesting a lack of transparency in the Ombudspersons work, the press service of the Secretariat quotes the Ambassador for Norway as having said that he gains his knowledge of the “extensive work” done by the Ombudsperson from her official website. Yet Its sufficient to glance at the website in question to see that its updated irregularly and unsystematically. Some of the sections were last updated as far back as 2004. The site appears to offer latest news in English however the page which comes up is in only in Ukrainian and Russian. While there are only two formal tables, for 2005 and 2006 on the financial aspect of the Ombudspersons activities, there is ample evidence that the financing for this office would certainly cover the cost of translation.
It was not to be expected that the Ombudsperson would feel inclined to report the civil suit brought against her, the Speaker of Parliament and the Verkhovna Rada itself, over infringements to the Law on the Human Rights Ombudsperson. It is however a shame that the press saw no need to report the extraordinary ruling which effectively states that citizens have no legal redress against such infringements which the judge said did not “directly impinge upon them” (http://www.khpg.org.ua/en/index.php?id=1204406565)
It is also regrettable that the press did not take note of Ms Karpachovas meeting with the Serbian Ambassador in Ukraine Goran Aleksiich. Whereas the President and Ministry of Foreign Affairs called for a balanced approach over Kosovo and called for continued negotiations between the Balkans and the international community, Ms Karpachova declared her solidarity for the Serbian position and announced her intention to discuss this issue with President Yushchenko.
Where the Ombudsperson did gain media coverage was over her meetings with the SBU management and the Prosecutor General. Over the last two weeks, of the 6 items concerning Ms Karpachova, 5 dealt with this subject. This is doubtless because of the dramatic statements made by Nina Karpachova following the arrest of Mr Rudkovsky, who held the position of Minister of Transport and Communications in the previous government (in the ruling coalition which Ms Karpachova was also a member of for more than 6 months). She claimed that the SBU had secret prisons. This claim was immediately taken up by the Party of the Regions which called for the resignation of the SBU leadership. The assertions were refuted, and no scandal emerged. The meetings did result in the SBU removing a stamp “For official use only” from documents regulating the status of the department for pre-trial investigations in the SBU. The meetings found consensus over the need for reform of the Law on the Security Service, specifically to remove the function of pre-trial investigation, and ensure social and legal guarantees for employees of the service.
Abridged from the report at www.maidan.org.ua