The Government is wrong: public consultation is required
The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union has initiated an Appeal open for endorsement by civic organizations, over the secretive drawing up by the Ministry of Justice of a draft law on the creation of National Preventive Mechanisms against torture [NPM].
The letter is to the Minister of Justice, the Heads of the Verkhovna Rada Committees on Human Rights, National Minorities and Inter-ethnic Relations; on Legislative Provisions for Law Enforcement Activities; on National Security and Defence and on Health.
The letter points out that Ukraine ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [OPCAT] on 21 July 2006.
“This Protocol binds countries to create a National Preventive Mechanism against torture. This mechanism, positive experience indicates, can lead to a country’s significant progress in fighting torture and ill-treatment in places of confinement: penal institutions, SIZO [remand units], temporary holding facilities; children’s homes, closed hospitals, etc. Various models for such a mechanism were discussed and pilot programmes on monitoring places of confinement run.
Ministry of Justice was for a number of years engaged in drawing up a draft law on NPM in Ukraine. The draft law was repeatedly changed however in general envisaged the creation of a separate special body of power which, in cooperation with human rights defenders, would carry out this function.
However public concern has recently been aroused by the draft law “On amendments to the Law on the Human Rights Ombudsperson” prepared by the Ministry of Justice and sent to be agreed around other central authorities. This version of the law has been radically changed without public involvement.
It is clear from Item 8 of the explanatory note to the Ministry’s new draft law that the Ministry considers “that the draft law does not need public consultation”.
Yet it is well-known that world practice for organizing the work of National Preventive Mechanisms envisages maximum involvement of a broad spectrum of society not only in the process of drawing up and introducing these mechanisms, but also in the carrying out by them of their functions.
Such a position from the Ministry of Justice is at very least surprising since the previous draft law “On a National Committee against Torture” prepared by the Ministry involved wide public discussion and well-known specialists from civic organizations took part in drawing it up.
We demand public discussion of this draft law and that amendments are made to it envisaging public participation in the system of monitoring and prevention of torture”.
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
The letter is available for endorsement here: http://helsinki.org.ua/index.php?id=1283949418