The Minister of Internal Affairs has come out against protecting human rights
Open Appeal from Ukrainian Human Rights Organizations
On 17 March 2010 we learned that the Minister of Internal Affairs Anatoly Mohylev has the firm intention of dissolving the Department for Monitoring Human Rights in the Work of the Police.
We are convinced that such actions by the new leadership are unwarranted, weaken national mechanisms for protecting human rights and demonstrate his priorities which do not include ensuring that the police respect human rights.
The folding of the work of human rights institutions created in recent years arouses outrage among civic organizations.
This Department was created in 2008 as the result of systematic cooperation over many years between the police and human rights organizations. It was moreover initiated when V. Tsushko was Minister of Internal Affairs in V. Yanukovych’s government. This non-political initiative was a step towards developing a policy of openness and transparency in the work of the MIA.
The work of Public Councils under the MIA and regional MIA departments made it possible to develop contacts between the police and human rights organizations. We are certain that these public councils are the most effective of any attached to bodies of power.
In just two years the Department has carried out a massive amount of work in the police aimed at safeguarding human rights in police activities and the reform of the MIA.
It is thanks to the Department that the mobile groups on monitoring observance of human rights in places of detention under the MIA have begun working systematically. These have become a prototype for a national preventive mechanism against torture which has gained recognition among international and Ukrainian specialists. Employees of this Department have uncovered hundreds of violations in the MIA.
The Department initiated the drawing up and approving of an action plan against racism and xenophobia, and a programme for fostering gender equality in police stations.
Hundreds of ordinary citizens who have complained of unlawful actions by the police have received assistance from the staff of the Department. With their help significant abuses by the police have been uncovered.
It is clear that without such a Department it is impossible to create a contemporary European police force which respects human rights in its work.
We would ask the new MIA management whether it is specifically this policy that they are rejecting when they state their intention to dissolve the Department for Monitoring Human Rights in the Work of Internal Affairs agencies. Do the police really not need to fight racism and xenophobia on the even of EURO 2010? Will the police not develop cooperation with international institutions and human rights organizations? Is there no need for mobile groups? Are public councils also not needed?
If you don’t need that, then you are building a police force for a totalitarian country working against the people and society.
We are convinced that you must not only retain the Department, but also provide new impetus for its work. We call upon you to do that and continue to develop policy based on observance of human rights by Internal Affairs bodies.
18 March 2010
The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union which is made up of 23 Ukrainian human rights organizations
Kharkiv Human Rights Group
International Women’s Human Rights Centre “La Strada – Ukraine”
The Centre for Political-Legal Reform, Kyiv
Kherson Regional Charity and Health Fund
The Kherson City Association of Journalists “Pivden’” (“South”)
The Regional Civic Fund “Law and Democracy”, Lviv
The Sevastopol Human Rights Protection Group, Sevastopol
Sumy City Civic Union “Public Bureau ‘Human Rights Protection
The civic organization “Expert Group”
The Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy
The Mykolaiv Regional Women’s Independent Association “DANA”
The human rights centre “Postup”, Luhansk
The Public Committee for the Protection of Constitutional Rights and Civil Liberties Luhansk
Luhansk Regional Branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine
Kherson Regional Branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine
City Youth Civic Organization “M’ART” (Youth Alternative), Chernihiv
Youth Human Rights Centre
Information and Consultative Women’s Centre, Kyiv
Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities (Vaad)
The Congress of National Communities of Ukraine (KNGU)
Chernihiv Public Committee for the Protection of Human Rights
The Civic Network OPORA
The Institute for Legal Research and Strategy, Kharkiv
Konotop Society of Consumers and Taxpayers “Dignity”, Konotop, Sumy Region
Regional Branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine
Civic Encouragement Movement
Luhansk Legal Foundation
Kirovohrad Association “Civic Initiatives”
The Kirovohrad Club “For a Law-based State”