Open appeal regarding government policy on human rights
To the President Viktor Yanukovych
and Prime Minister Mykola Azarov
On 17 March 2010 information was circulated suggesting that the staffing of the Minister of Internal Affair’s Office was to be halved. This involved the removal of the posts of Human Rights Assistants within the Department for the Monitoring of Human Rights in the Work of the Police, created in 2008.
Despite an open letter from the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, signed by more than thirty civic organizations and statements through the media, the Minister of Internal Affairs Anatoly Mohylev has terminated the system of monitoring of human rights in the police by taking the decision to dismiss Human Rights Assistants to the Minister.
The Order regarding the Reorganization of the Minister’s Office via reduction in staff was signed on 18 March, yet only made public on 25 March. The Minister thus demonstrated total disregard for the opinion of civic organizations and the human rights community.
Given the numerous violations and demonstrations of contempt for human rights over the last month – the dissolution of the Department for the Monitoring of Human Rights in the Work of the Police, sexual discrimination (the purely male makeup of the government and the assertion (by the Prime Minister) that women cannot carry out reforms, the violation of the right to equal access to higher education, the dismissal of trade union activists for upholding miners’ rights, reduction of access to archival documents on political repression, the intention of the Communist Party to erect a monument to the butcher of the Ukrainian people, Joseph Stalin in Zaporizhya, etc, the question is legitimately asked whether these steps represent a lack of understanding of the importance of human rights and support for those institutions which have been fairly successful in defending these rights, or whether they are a planned and conscious rejection of Ukrainian society’s democratic achievements.
We would ask you to provide clear information to the public regarding the new government’s policy on human rights and to give your assessment of the above-mentioned actions, as well as informing about measures aimed at eliminating human rights violations.
We will continue to monitor the human rights situation in Ukraine and react as necessary where rights are violated.
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Kharkiv Human Rights Union
The appeal is open for endorsement at www.helsinki.org.ua