Why you should always advertise your press conferences
At a press conference on 21 March, members of the civic organization “Maidan” Alliance Volodymyr Martynyuk and Oleksandr Severyn announced that they were filing a civil suit calling for the appointment of Nina Karpachova Authorised Human Rights Representative of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (the Human Rights Ombudsperson) to be declared unlawful and invalid. They also informed all those concerned of the introduction of regular and ongoing monitoring of the activities of the Human Rights Ombudsperson and of Nina Karpachovas somewhat unsystematic approach to choosing cases worthy of her attention.
And some of those concerned would seem to have paid a lot of attention (which is much to be welcomed)
Article 3 of the Ukrainian Constitution states unequivocally: “Human rights and freedoms and their guarantees determine the essence and orientation of the activity of the State. The State is answerable to the individual for its activity. To affirm and ensure human rights and freedoms is the main duty of the State”.
According to the Law on the Human Rights Ombudsperson, “control over the observance of constitutional human and civil rights and liberties and the defence of the rights of each individual” are undertaken specifically by the Human Rights Ombudsperson.
For this reason, the “Maidan” Alliance considers this position to be of crucial importance for safeguarding human rights and freedoms, developing civic society and guaranteeing the law-based nature of the Ukrainian state.
Accordingly our civic interest and, we are convinced, the civic interest of each Ukrainian lies in having a worthy and politically non-engaged Ombudsperson, who furthermore unwaveringly complies with the law. Clearly, infringements of the law when appointing a Human Rights Ombudsperson render such an appointment illegitimate and demonstrate the legal nihilism of those in power.
The appointment of a Human Rights Ombudsperson who is clearly politically engaged, and without even the pretence of taking the opinion of civic society into consideration demonstrated the total lack of understanding of the “coalition” of the nature of the office of Human Rights Ombudsperson and the fundamental aspects of interrelations between civic society and the authorities.
The whole saga over the appointment of Nina Karpachova Human Rights Ombudsperson, not to mention the period in which she combined political activities with her position as Ombudsperson, presents a whole chain of offences, including:
- the unlawful combining by Nina Karpachova of the position of Ombudsperson with that of State Deputy;
- the unlawful failure of the Verkhovna Rada to carry out its duty to dismiss Ms Karpachova once the conflict of interests had arisen;
- the unlawful tabling of her Ms Karpachovas candidacy by the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Oleksandr Moroz, this violating the legally established time limits, as well as the requirements and oath of the Human Rights Ombudsperson
- the unfounded conclusion by the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and Inter-ethnic Relations regarding the supposed compliance of Karpachovas candidacy for the post of Ombudsperson with the requirements of the law;
- the unlawful infringement by the Verkhovna Rada of the legally established time limits for appointing a Human Rights Ombudsperson.
In view of this and their commitment to human rights and freedoms, developing civic society and the rule of law, 8 members of the “Maidan” Alliance lodged a civil suit with the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv on 5 March 2007. The suit demands:
- that Resolution No. 621-V of the Verkhovna Rada from 8.02.07 declaring Nina Karpachova Human Rights Ombudsperson be declared unlawful and invalid;
- that the Verkhovna Rada be ordered within 20 days of the entry into force of the Court ruling to appoint a new Human Rights Ombudsperson in accordance with the law.
Quite aside from its court suits, the “Maidan” Alliance, on the basis of the network of nationwide offices for promoting civic interests, created with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation, will be carrying out regular and vigilant monitoring of the activities of the Human Rights Ombudsperson to ensure that these comply with the law, the legally defined tasks of the office of the Human Rights Ombudsperson and that they are efficient in practice.
We would note that there were people present at the press conference whose behaviour suggested their concern for the image and official fate of Nina Karpachova. A refreshing reminder that certain offices do read our prior announcements (among the list of journalists there were people who indicated “Secretariat” or similar). We are all for this. At very least it promotes general development.
And with regard to the impact of advertising ones press conferences, we would mention the sudden surge in activity on the “Lutsenko case”* which was shown during the day by the Human Rights Ombudsperson This can be seen on http://www.ombudsman.kiev.ua/pres/releases/rel_07_03_21_3.htm) , although not, admittedly in English.
However, as we have promised, Ms Karpachova need not fear – all her work will be assiduously reported for the benefit of all those whose rights she is called upon to protect..