Ukrainians “complain to the UN” over corruption, discrimination and torture
In September, as part of the campaign “Human Rights in Ukraine: Your Vote is Important”, Ukrainians were asked which rights are most often violated in Ukraine. The results of the survey were passed to the UN member states who on 24 October during Ukraine’s Universal Periodic Review will be assessing how Ukraine is fulfilling its human rights obligations. Around 4 thousand people took part in the survey which was held both on the Internet, on the website of the Human Rights Information Centre, on social networks, as well as on the street in 6 cities (Kyiv; Lviv; Kherson; Simferopol; Sumy and Luhansk).
The respondents were asked to answer 13 questions relating to various human rights, including: Are Ukrainians protected from discrimination? Is it possible to effectively complain about unlawful action by police officers? Is there freedom of speech in Ukraine?
59% if respondents asked on the street said that they had encountered infringements of their rights over the last four years, with the percentage as high as 75.4% of those who answered on the Internet.
Respondents in the street survey considered the following to be the worst infringements of their rights:
Issues over social benefits: pensions, social assistance etc 22.5%
Poor medical care 10.7%
Those who responded to surveys on the Internet named the right to a fair trial as being the biggest human rights violation, with the following in second place: corruption; lack or restriction of freedom of speech.
The respondents also feel that the government does not protect them from various types of discrimination (disabilities; age; social status etc), and that they are also not protected from torture by the police. According to one respondent “there’s nowhere to complain to. There are any number of examples of the police torturing detainees to extract evidence. And when the case is sent to the Internal Security Service or the Prosecutor’s Office, pressure on the victim becomes even greater and so he withdraws his statement.”
As reported, Ukraine is due to present the government’s report for the four-yearly Universal Periodic Review on 24 October. This will be the second time that Ukraine is reporting with the UN wanting to know about Ukraine’s fulfillment (or otherwise) of the recommendations which it agreed to in 2008. These included passing comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation; strengthening judicial independence; prevention of torture promotion of children’s rights. There were more than 30 recommendations in total with these of a strategic nature regarding fulfillment of obligations under international agreements. The Universal Periodic Review is the largest-scale mechanism for monitoring human rights within the UN system.