On Ukraines priorities during its presidency of OSCE in 2013
UHHRU, KHPG, the Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors on Law Enforcement and the Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation have addressed an appeal to President Yanukovych, the Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister.
In it they point out that Ukraine’s right to hold the presidency of OSCE In 2013 is recognition by OSCE member states that Ukraine is capable of playing a constructive role in the OSCE region. The year-long presidency is, at the same time, a responsible mission for the country.
“As representatives of organizations within Ukraine’s civil society, we believe that the designation by the government of priorities for its presidency should take place solely as the result of consultation with the public as is foreseen by current legislation.
Despite obvious problems with observance of human rights in the country and just criticism from the international community regarding the quality of the justice system, Ukraine has noticeable achievements in establishing new standards for exercising certain rights. Some legislative changes carried out recently have been supported by the public and international organizations, including OSCE. One can mention the new Criminal Procedure Code; legal regulation of the activities of civic organizations; access to public information; reform to the system of legal aid. After the election of a new Ombudsperson the formation has begun of a national preventive mechanism against torture in close cooperation with NGOs.
In our opinion, it is these areas which belong to the OSCE human dimension issues which Ukraine should make the priorities of its presidency. In 2013. In that case Ukraine will be able to make effective use of its presidency to promote fundamental freedoms in the OSCE region. Such a position by Ukraine will receive unqualified support from Ukraine’s partners in OSCE for whom democracy and human rights are the main values of this organization.
The procedures for access to public information introduced by Ukraine are at this time an unachievable standard for the majority of countries of the OSCE region. Removal of excessive restrictions for the activities of civic organization is a good example to be followed by many OSCE countries. The draft Law on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly prepared for its second reading, should it be adopted, will implement the OSCE Guiding Principles and meet Council of Europe standards. It will be very strange if Ukraine cannot use its presidency of the OSCE to effectively push its achievements which will be well-received by the public of OSCE countries. At the same time, Ukraine has a marvellous opportunity to accumulate positive experience of OSCE countries with regard to prevention of torture and introduce them with their direct support.
These are merely examples of the areas which can form the core of Ukraine’s presidency in the OSCE, which can be extended and corrected through consultation with NGOs. We hope that the country’s leadership will view with understanding the wish of Ukraine’s civic organizations regarding the holding of the relevant consultation, and also support the need to define the issues of access to public information, freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly and protection from torture as priorities of its presidency.
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Kharkiv Human Rights Group
Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors on Law Enforcement
The Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation