Human rights activists allege unlawful interference in their work


The arrest of a human rights activist in Lviv, the search carried out of the home of the Coordinator of the Vinnytsa Human Rights Group, the assault on a human rights worker in Kherson, demands that a human rights organization provide financial documents in Yevpatoria. Can all this be considered chance?

As reported, the police on Friday searched the flat of the Vinnytsa Human Rights Group Coordinator. According to the court order this was in connection with circulation of pornographic video material by the Coordinator Dmytro Groisman. The clip which the police called pornography is available on Youtube, and shows people who look like well-known figures in Russia (cf. )

The police removed leaflets from a German Anti-AIDS foundation, but also searched the offices of the human rights group, this being without court order, removing financial and other documents.

The organization says that the police are more and more often using unlawful measures against civic activists. Groisman points out that activists from the human rights organization “Guards of the Law” received three day administrative arrest sentences in Lviv.

Incidents with human rights activists in Lviv, Kherson and the Crimea

As reported Oleksiy Verentsov, lawyer, human rights activist and organizer of a peaceful protest action on 12 October, declared a hunger strike in protest at his unlawful prosecution. On 14 October he received a 3 day jail sentence (administrative arrest for supposedly wilfully disobeying the lawful demands of a police officer to stop the protest. This was despite there being no court order against the protest meaning that in accordance with the Constitution, it was lawful.

Volodymyr Yavorsky, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union stresses that one needs to look at other cases – the beating of human rights defender and journalist, Dementiy Bily in Kherson, the prosecution of human rights activists monitoring human rights in psychiatric institutions in the Crimea, and where the police demand financial documents without providing reasons.

In an interview to the Ukrainian Service of Deutsche Welle, Mr Yavorsky called all these cases interference in human rights activities. “Yet it is nonetheless no systematic, there is no general policy of pressure on human rights activists”. He says that when previously it was the position of the government that the police should behave in a democratic manner and not persecute activists, such cases were rare.

“Now the police not only have their hands untied, but even carry out the commissions of various interested parties, whether that be the city authorities, the regional prosecutor”. He says that these actions are usually at local authority level, with pressure on judges and the police so that they detain people and that the court issues an unwarranted ruling.

Yavorsky states that the stopping of the protest meeting and punishment of Verentsov in Lviv were illegal and he does not believe that the search of the Coordinator of the Vinnytsa Human Rights Group had any legal grounds. He is convinced that the police often use a formal excuse, or abstract demands, or occasionally none at all. “For example, if in Groisman’s case he was accused of circulating pornography, why did they remove material about refugees and asylum seekers?   That was personal information about people that had nothing to do with pornography.”

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