Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
22.05.2000 | S. Holovaty

Human rights in Ukraine — 99


The longerUkraine exists as a constitutional independent state, the lessis supported the state policy for the human rights protection.

The highest pointin the progressive development of the national system of human rights protection was the adoption of the Constitutionin 1996. This Constitution confirmed high international (mainly European) standards in this sphere.

The highest pointin the process of ruining and discrediting the efficient national system of human rights protection becamethe bouquet of events connected with the organization and realization of Presidential electionthat lasted practically the entire year 1999.

The Constitution of Ukraineadopted in 1996 looked like a good reading, butafter the practical testing it proved its inability to reflect practical lifeof Ukrainian citizens, Ukrainian society and Ukrainian state.

What is lately happening in Ukraine? Frank and exact assessment is given in many publications in the West (the ‘Economist’, ‘The Washington Post’, ‘Financial Times’), where the modern state of the government and development is characterized as follows: ‘Kuchma’s authoritarianism’, ‘nomenclature capitalism’, ‘ Is the Ukrainian experiment of building an independent and democratic state reaching its end?’, and so on and so forth. All this is incompatible with European standards of human rights.

Ukraine had a chance to build democracy. Ukrainian society had a chance to follow European standards of human rights protection. The both chances are lost.Maybe for a long time. Arguments:

Principles of separation of powers, as it is foreseen by the Constitution, are not realized, although this separation of powers may create the conditions, under which human rights and freedoms are protected;

The great majority of Ukrainian citizens was devoid of the right to the free election (which is confirmed by the OSCE and the Council of Europe);

The great majority of Ukrainian citizens was devoid of the right to get reliable information about the events occurring in the society (the election was not an exception);

The freedom of speech was limited to the critical level;

The oppositional (democratic) press and oppositional (democratic) forces were nearly ruined and pushed to nearly underground activity;

Independent court system (the main institute of human rights protection) has not been created;

Independent lawyer’s profession (self-administered organization of lawyers) has not been created;

Constitutional principles concerning personal and economic rights and freedoms have not been developed in the operating laws (the Civil Code has not been adopted);

Criminal right has not been made more democratic (the adopted Penal Code does not correspond to European standards);

The court process (both criminal and civil) has remained mainly on the level of the Soviet times (an example: the President vetoed the law, which deprived the prosecutor’s office of the right of protesting court decisions about civil cases);

The prosecutor’s office continues to act on the Stalin’s principles of late 30s, restraining timid attempts of the court system to become a democratic institution for human rights protection;

Ukrainian courts, including the Supreme Court, disregarding the decision of the Supreme Court plenum, do not apply Article 55 of the Constitution and the Constitution as a whole, as a law of direct action, thus ignoring its priority relative to common laws (an example: the refusal of the Supreme Court to consider the complaint about the decision of the Central Election Committee concerning the results of the Presidential election);

The official translation of the European Convention of human rights has not been published because of the obstruction of the authorities whose direct duty is to protect human rights;

Top authorities of the prosecutor’s office, officials from the Supreme Court of Justice, influential figures from scientific and professional legal community reject the principle of the superiority of the right and appeal to the term to the fundamental principle of Stalin’s regime: the superiority of the law;

The process is developed of making the state approach more superior than the private, political and economic life of individuals (the control from the USS and MIA has increased, as well as the control of other repressive bodies; the propiskahas not been abolished; the practices of the frontier guard and custom service is repressive and punitive);

Decisions of the judicial bodies (including those of the Constitutional Court) are not obeyed by he executive power and President;

The ombudsperson has not done anything special during two years.

In many respects Ukraine, on the one hand, has not left the state where she was in early 90s, on the other hand, she returned where it had been in early 90s, two years after the adoption of the Constitution.

The reasons of such development are well-known: the way to nowhere is led not by communists, but the operating regime.

The consequences are ruinous for each citizen (lawlessness for today and hopelessness for tomorrow), and for the society as a whole (level of general culture, destructive legal nihilism), and for the state, which in the early 90s had a high authority at the international arena, but lost it very quickly.

Is there a chance to regain the lost? Has Ukraine a chance to turn to the way of democracy and observance of human rights and freedoms, which is followed by Poland, Czechia, Hungary and Baltic countries? The answer is given in the inauguration speech of the President, but the experience testifies that it is just lip service.

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