Human Rights in Ukraine – 2011 Report issued
A press conference on Tuesday presented the report issued by human rights organizations under the auspices of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union – Human Rights in Ukraine – 2011.
The report identifies three danger trends which emerged last year: increased poverty; political persecution of the opposition and civic movements, as well as the destruction of judicial independence.
The presenters called the situation with social and economic rights catastrophic. According to the data contained in the report, a quarter of the population consider themselves to be poor. 85% of Ukrainians, in order to survive, have to economize on food, clothing, leisure and holidays.
The government has adopted a harsh position on stopping or reducing social payments to former Chornobyl clean-up workers; Afghanistan War veterans, children, etc, and in response to protests has effectively resorted to political persecution. Instead of reviewing their position, they have tried to intimidate protesters, using the law enforcement bodies – the MIA, the Security Service and the Prosecutor. ,
The authors stress that the trend towards use of enforcement bodies as an instrument of political persecution of opponents is extremely dangerous for human rights. This can lead to a spiralling of repression which will then be hard to stop. Political repression at that point against imagined enemies can turn into repression against everybody.
Disrespect for the justice system is another negative trend in Ukraine. This leads to chance criminal prosecution and courts falling under the control of the Prosecutor’s Office and bodies of local self-government. The authorities called the court trials of former government officials a travesty of justice.
There has been no improvement in the situation regarding the use of torture and ill-treatment. If in 2010 more than 790 thousand people suffered from unlawful violence at the hands of the police this figure in 2011 stood at 980 thousand. Torture most often goes unpunished or, what is worse, is viewed as the norm. This leads to an increase in arbitrary behaviour and impunity from the law enforcement bodies on the one hand and an increase in the sense of vulnerability among the public on the others.
The presenters asserted that a political regime which violates human rights is every more doomed to failed. They stress that the human rights situation will improve only with a radical change in the country’s leaders’ attitude to their main constitutional duty – affirming and protecting human rights.
The Human Rights in Ukraine reports are used by national and international organizations for assessing the human rights situation in the country in general and trends and developments in the specific year. They have been published on an annual basis since 2004. Over 30 human rights organizations from all over the country took part in drawing up the report which contains 26 sections.