KHARKIV HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION GROUP ANNUAL REPORT 2016
1. General notes
According to the Strategic Plan for 2016-2019 KHPG works in the following strategic areas:
1. Defense of victims of human rights violations in specific cases. It includes:
a) Providing assistance to individuals whose rights have been infringed,
b) Carrying out investigations into cases of human rights violation;
c) Providing strategic litigations in national and international proceedings.
2. Civic education and enlightenment on human rights, collection and distribution of information on human rights. It includes:
a) Gathering information on human rights violations and sending corresponding data to the relevant persons, organizations and mass media as well as state bodies;
b) Developing human rights education and promoting legal awareness through public actions, educational events and publications.
3. Monitoring, analysis and improvement of the human rights situation in Ukraine, i.e.:
a) Providing analysis of the human rights situation in Ukraine, assessment of current legislation and draft laws from the point of view of their compliance with international human rights law;
b) Monitoring law-applying administrative and judicial practice in the context of human rights observation;
c) Appealing to legislative, executive and judicial authorities on problems concerning human rights.
In addition, KHPG works in the following specific areas:
4. Study of history of human rights movement in USSR and Ukraine and history of political repression in USSR as well as development of KHPG physical and electronic archive on the history of dissident movement in Ukraine.
5. KHPG organizational development.
Of the full range of human rights KHPG usually selects several key rights and freedoms, which are currently the most up to date, and implements work with them as described above in 1-3. Consideration of individual rights KHPG combines well with the analysis and monitoring of the activities of certain government bodies, considering in this case all the rights and freedoms are violated by these bodies. Accounting main trends of state development, KHPG provides the following programs in 2016-2019:
1. Human rights defense through KHPG Public Reception Office (PRO)
2. Human rights defense through KHPG Strategic Litigation Center (SLC)
3. Monitoring, investigation and legal proceeding the most serious violations of human rights in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts
4. Human rights protection of internal displaced persons in Ukraine
5. Civic campaign against torture and ill-treatment
6. Defense of the rights of vulnerable groups with focusing on prisoners, drug users and people who live with HIV/AIDS as well as asylum seekers and migrants
7. Defense of freedom of expression, access to information and right for privacy; increasing transparency and openness of work of public administration and local self-government bodies
8. Struggle against discrimination, racism, xenophobia and hate crimes
9. Struggle against political persecutions
10. Protection of the right to a fair trial in criminal proceedings.
11. Security services in a constitutional democracy: oversight and accountability
12. Police reform
13. Dissemination of information and knowledge on human rights and basic freedoms in Ukraine, civil education and aware-raising activities.
14. Monitoring implementation of decisions of international bodies.
15. Study of history of human rights movement in USSR and Ukraine and history of political repression in USSR.
To improve its performance KHPG should also take care of its organizational development: to improve the organizational structure, management system, fundraising and communication (internal and external), to improve the knowledge and skills of the staff, to ensure the conditions for it to work effectively, to attract young professionals who sharing the values and goals KHPG.
Total expenditures of the Group were 22 553 400 UAH. Please, see list of donors in the Appendix.
2. Human rights defense through KHPG Public Reception Office
In 2016 4343 people applied to the Public Reception Office (hereinafter –the PRO) of the KHPG, among them – 2172 men and 2171 women. 227 of legal consultations, provided during field receptions in June-December 2016 in residential areas situated on the demarcation line (Stanytsya Luhanska, Svetlodarska duha, Maryinka, Krasnohorivka, Popasna, Tryokhizbenka etc.) are not included in this Report. It should be mentioned that 7 employees work in the Public Reception Office, including 2 barristers, 3 lawyers, one human rights defender and one student of a legal department (conducts initial reception). Accordingly, on average there are 620 consultations per worker, that is 2-3 consultations per day.
Social status of the applicants is provided in the table below:
Victims of domestic violence
Victims of crimes
Prisoners and their relatives
Suspects and their relatives
Accused and their relatives
Unemployed and non-working people
People with disabilities
Minors and their representatives
Workers of the budget sphere
In the following table there are provided institutions on the actions of which the applicant complained
Administration of enterprises of all forms of ownership
State Enforcement Service and the SES officers
Health care institutions
The Ministry of Interior
The Ministry of Defence and its departments
Local self-government authorities
Social protection bodies
Organizations providing community facilities
The Pension Fund and its units
The tax administration
The Prosecutor’s Office
1585 applicants applied during field receptions. The other ways of applying, determined by the applicants in the application form are the following: Interned, email, Skype – 172, collective applications – 20, personal reception – 2206, written applications – 150, telephone applications – 188, not indicated – 22.
The applicants provided the next answers to the question of the application form how they learned about the PRO: from friends – 600, from state bodies – 5, from the office of FLA (free legal aid) – 24; applied before – 372, from the media – 14, from the Internet – 117; from other reception offices – 15; from job listings – 99. 3097 applicants did not answer this question.
Most of the legal problems of the applicants concerned social issues, payment of pensions community facilities, civil cases. All people who addressed the KHPG received consultations. Persons unable to prepare documents received assistance in preparation of necessary legal documents.
Last year, most complaints concerned problems IDPs: issues regarding obtaining the status, pensions, payment of social benefits associated with the status.
On April 4, 2016 the Law of Ukraine "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine regarding the empowerment of local governments and optimization of administrative services" came into force, according to which powers in the field of registration of residence and de-registration of residence of individuals are delegated to local governments (the executive body of village, town or city council, a village head (in cases when the executive body of the village council is not established under the Law – to the registration authority). This led to long queues in the departments of social protection, the inability of some IDPs to register in the place of residence. Local authorities delayed the restoration of social benefits; some IDPs did not receive social welfare payments from March to August. In some cases, the lawyers of the PRO carried out work with local authorities to obtain a positive result.
Overall in 2016 the lawyers of the PPO of the KHPG represented the applicants’ interested in 69 cases, including 49 civil, 14 administrative and 6 criminal cases. Among them, there are fully or partially won 31 civil, 12 administrative and 6 criminal cases; 12 court’s orders were cancelled on the appplications prepared by the lawyers of the KHPG. In the two cases the court refused to satisfy the claims, the refusals were challenged in appeal. Consideration of the remaining 18 cases is pending.
A few words about the nature of court proceedings in which the lawyers of the PRO represented the interests of applicants.
Many cases of IDPs such as death registration, registration of birth on uncontrolled territories, demanded a judicial decision, so in 2016 our lawyers successfully supported in courts 14 civil cases concerning establishment of the legally significant facts.
The police reform also required the attention of our lawyers. Three women, unlawfully fired when they had been on maternity and childcare leave, were reinstated. Also, the claim for reinstatement of a person who had been illegally dismissed from the Ministry of Interior was granted.
Successful cases regarding the recovery of salary arrears: on 21 cases the claims are fully satisfied, of 3 cases- the claims are partially satisfied. Examination of 3 cases continues.
Complaints concerning the court orders of debt recovery by the communal services, were satisfied that all grounded cases.
Six complaints were filed in criminal cases under Articles 303, 304 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of Ukraine (against the actions/omissions of an investigator, a prosecutor, an investigating judge). All were satisfied. Investigative actions on the complaints of the victims were renewed.
3. Providing strategic litigations through KHPG SLC
During the previous year, SLC lawyers represented clients in 186 strategic cases. This number does not include cases, on which applications to the ECtHR were filed in previous years. In these cases SLC lawyers were in correspondence with clients and the Court. Also in some cases judgments had been delivered in previous years and SLC lawyers were conducting monitoring of their execution.
35 lawyers (including 9 in-house; 7 in-house in 2016) were involved in work upon strategic cases of the SLC. Other lawyers were performing fixed-term contracts.
SLC cases before the ECtHR
89 strategic cases were presented before the ECtHR. In some of them national judicial proceedings continued simultaneously.
In 2016 the ECtHR have delivered 17 judgments concerning events of 2013. SLC lawyers represented victims of Human Rights violations in cases of tortures in police units, inhuman conditions of detention and lack of proper medical aid in penitentiary institutions. Other cases were connected with non-providing of access to case-files of imprisoned persons, unreasonable delays in consideration of cases by courts (one of them has been being considered for more than 10 years!), unlawful putting of person to mental health facility, lack of effective investigation in cases of murder and tortures.
In 6 cases SLC lawyers represented their clients before the ECtHR on the stage of communication with the Government of Ukraine. 5 cases are related to tortures in police units, the sixth one – improper investigation of fatal road accident and escape of criminal liability by its initiator.
In addition, Dnipro Euromaidan activists’ cases are being considered by the Court on the stage of communication. On 26 January 2014 a clash with “titushki” took place. Protesters were arrested by the police in the course of clash. They were accused of committing a crime, provided by part 1 article 284 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (mass disorders). SLC lawyers represented 14 protesters. They have won cases on the national level. Courts found illegal initiation of criminal proceedings against the applicants. Lawyers have obtained compensations of moral damages (50 thousand UAH) for each of the applicants. However, national courts failed to declare applicants’ detention unlawful. On these grounds the KHPG lawyers filed applications to the ECtHR on behalf of 13 applicants.
Case of victims of unlawful actions of “Berkut” and “titushki” during the protest of 19 February in Kharkiv was also communicated to the Government. However, in comparison to Dnipro, in Kharkiv judges and prosecutors still resist making a decision on the national level in this case. Also SLC lawyer represents one criminally prosecuted euromaidan activist Ch.
In 2016 SLC lawyers drafted and filed to the Court 50 applications on vilations of Convention and according to the Rule 39. 31 of them are related to cases concerning events in Eastern Ukraine: 7 cases of abandoned prisoners, 4 cases concerning detention and tortures of prisoners of war (3 – servicemen, 1 civilian), 20 cases of killing and wounding civilians which live in “grey zone” and their damaged property. 6 cases are related to the “Savchenko legal act”, 13 – other issues, including tortures in police units, extradition, lack of medical aid under detention, different aspects of violation of the right to fair trial, etc.
Strategic cases of the KHPG in national courts
In 2016 KHPG lawyers represented victims of Human Rights violations in 97 cases before national courts throughout the country. This number includes 7 cases of asylum seekers which were eligible for extradition according to the Prosecutor’s Office. Those actions violated defection principle. The State Migration Service actually refused to provide asylum seekers with temporary residence permit. 10 cases are related to war in Eastern Ukraine. 7 cases are related to Kyiv Euromaidan, including: 5 heroes of the “Heaven’s hundred” – Oleg Kapinos, Igor Kostenko, Leonid Polyanskiy, Vladislav Zubenko and Vyacheslav Veremiy. 33 cases are related to drug-addicts, who suffer severe diseases and other vulnerable groups of imprisoned people. In 5 cases lawyers of the KHPG protected rights of pregnant women who had been unlawfully dismissed from the police. 34 cases are related to unlawful actions of the police and servicemen of the penitentiary system, improper medical aid which resulted patient’s death, distributing by administration of the Berduchiv penitentiary institution of anti-Ukrainian newspaper “Novorossia” among prisoners, different aspect of right to fair trial, etc.
In 39 strategic cases KHPG lawyers had success. In 8 cases or clients refused to support the case or the court rejected the claim. 74 cases are continued.
A brief description of the KHPG strategic litigations for the first half of 2016 is placed on the KHPG portal «Human Rights in Ukraine»: http://khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1487085158 (in English) and http://khpg.org/index.php?id=1487063322 (in Ukrainian).
4. Monitoring, investigation and legal proceeding the most serious violations of human rights in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts
The occupation of Crimea and the military conflict in Donbas brought about the greatest migration in Europe since the Second World War. In 2015-2016, this migration intensified even more. As of 1 January 2017, according to the Ministry of Social Policy, more than 1 million internally displaced persons were registered in Ukraine. According to various estimates, approximately 0.5 million displaced persons were not registered with government authorities.
Extraordinary human rights violations appeared in Ukraine in 2014 and became even more widespread in 2015-2016, such as summary executions, forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detention beyond any legal procedures, tortures, war crimes. According to the mission of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, from 14 April 2014 to 15 November 2016 9,733 people were killed and 22,720 injured as a result of the military conflict. The number of people shot without trial or missing is unknown; according to various estimates, it ranges between 2,500 and 5,000 victims, however, verification of these data is not yet possible. It is also impossible to tell the exact number of military and civilian prisoners. According to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), about 3,100 persons kept in places of confinement by the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR were liberated. On 1 January 2017, while 110 people are still held prisoners, and difficult negotiations for their release continue.
The KHPG objective in this direction is to provide monitoring and documenting the most serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law as well as to provide access to legal aid to victims of these violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions which have been affected by the occupation by armed groups and the hostilities. Victims are provided with legal support and cases which require urgent life-saving intervention can be addressed.
The primary tool for monitoring is trips of monitoring groups to the settlements along the line of demarcation. In 2016 30 monitoring trips (15 in January-June, 15 in July-December) have been realised including two 7-days joint trips with Russian human rights defenders from the Moscow “Memorial”. Preliminary KHPG sent information requests to the local self-governments bodies. We requested information about the destruction or partial destruction of buildings - residential and non-residential, the number of victims - dead and wounded, the estimate of the damage, whether the restoration work is carried out. Monitoring group specified during visits responses to information requests: fix on the go as a result of the destruction of property shootings attacks; assess the scale of the destruction; are working on the possibility of identifying the perpetrators of the shootings shelling; set the exact number of victims as much as possible - with the identification of victims and tracing relatives and questioning them.
Furthermore, monitoring groups look for:
- Illegal actions on the part of Ukrainian units;
- Acts of violence against the person on both sides of the conflict;
- Looting on both sides of the conflict;
- Cases of torture, illegal detention, etc. on both sides of the conflict;
- Executions without trial on both sides of the conflict;
- Kidnapping for political reasons.
Simultaneously members of the monitoring groups provided legal consultations and found victims of grave human rights violations. The members of the monitoring group met with victims of extraordinary human rights violations and conducts video evidence of abuses in the form of semi-structured interviews. They determined the possibility of legal defence of victims and make recommendations on restoration of the violated rights or mitigation of consequences of the violations. Then they handed such strategic cases to the KHPG SLC.
In June-December of 2016 227 legal consultations were provided, 286 legal documents were drafted, 28 unique cases were started. There were 23 cases of persons who were killed or injured in Donbass, 2 cases of civil persons in captivity, 1 case of war prisoner, 2 cases on enforced disappearances. In addition, 148 typical strategic cases were started: 96 cases on real-estate destroyed as a result of shelling, 27 – failure to pay the salary to public sector workers if the organization stays in the occupied territories, and 25 – prisoners of the so-called DPR and LPR who are holding there without legal grounds.
KHPG lawyers prepared and sent 25 applications to the ECtHR: 3 – on prisoners of the so-called DPR and LPR; 2 – on persons, who are imprisoned in territory controlled by Ukraine; 18 – on real-estate destroyed as a result of shelling, 2 – on persons who held in captivity.
There are typical strategic litigations that could be united in the following groups:
1. Torture and inhuman treatment with persons who held in captivity (Article 3 of the Convention).
2. Deaths and injuries of civilians as a result of shooting during the military conflict (Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention).
3. Missing persons during the war conflict (Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention).
4. Failure to pay the salary to public sector workers if the organization stays in the occupied territories (Article 1 of the Protocol 1 to the Convention).
5. Prisoners in the so-called DPR and LPR who are holding there without legal grounds (Article 5 and 6 of the Convention).
6. Loss of property as a result of shooting (Article 8 and Article 1 of the Protocol 1 to the Convention).
5. Civic campaign against torture and ill-treatment
Development and strengthening a network for preventing torture. We developed quite strong working connections between regional human rights NGOs, journalists and lawyers in order to inform on and investigate of ill-treatment cases. Members of the network have extended advisory aid to the citizens, conducted public investigations within their competence and extended aid by professional lawyers cooperating with KHPG. The reports sent by the network partners were collected, generalised, and published in the specialised KHPG’s site «Proty Katuvan» (Against Torture) and KHPG portal «Human Rights in Ukraine». KHPG workers and other members of the network took part in visits to detention places jointly with the representatives of the Ombudsman’s office according to the OPCAT. Members of the network also held many awareness-raising events in their regions.
In April 2014 Ukrainian Parliament has adopted changes in legislation and amended the Penal Code of Ukraine (PCU). After that the monitors from civil society and journalist may freely carry out the visits without the previous announcement to the institutions of the State Penitentiary Service of Ukraine (SPSU). Articles 24 of PCU postulated that any deputy or his/her assistant or a member of the Public Council at State Penitentiary Service can form a group of three doctors or two journalists and they have the right "freely and without restrictions in time … move through the territory of penal institutions" – it is a new opportunity to monitor the situation with the human rights in the closed for the society penitentiary institutions.
KHPG has organized 9 visits to the colonies with different regimes (medium and maximum levels security level) from 01 July till 31 December 2016 and a number of media-events where the results of the monitoring visits were presented:
1. Colony #54 (Kharkiv) for women – 03-04.07.2016 During the visit monitors studied conditions and possible complains of women sentenced to life imprisonment, and causes of three deaths in the colony. The submission for Ombudsman was prepared and sent to initiate the opening the procedure by Ombudsman and investigate the cases of the death in the colony.
2. Visit to Colony # 85 (First visit) – 21.07.2016. Monitors visited the colony with the media representative from ‘Magnolia TV”, the visit was recorded and presented in TV and in Internet on-line. KhPG client Mr Kosko was refused to be released due to his health conditions and KHPG monitors checked his medical file in the prison hospital https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QQNHk_rfiQ
3. Visit to Colony # 85 (Second visit) - 28.07.2016. Monitors visited the industrial area of the colony and met with the patients of the prison hospital. “Magnolia TV” prepared and presented a video on this visit http://magnolia-tv.com/video-news/2016-08-03/77348-na-ki-vshchin-zasudzhenogo-dostrokovo-zv-lnili-cherez-stan-zdorov-ya-v-d
28.07.2016 participation in the round-table “The excessive stay in the custody as the consequences of the overcoming of reasonable terms for criminal proceedings”. Intervention.
4. Visit to Colony # 85 (Third visit) - 22.08.2016, Monitors participated in the trial held in the Colony (Ivan Zhukov – the client of KhPG, refuse to deliberate due to the health conditions. TV Magnolia recorded the trial procedure and prepared the video http://magnolia-tv.com/video-news/2016-08-23/78187-sud-v-dmoviv-u-dostrokovomu-zv-lnenn-tyazhko-khvorogo-v-yaznya-v-deo#.V78dB6AYe6k.facebook
5. Visit to Colony # 85 (Fourth visit) - 25.08.2016, monitoring of the hospital in the colony. Meetings with the sentenced patients.
The article on the situation in the Colony # 85 was published on 31.08.2016 on KhPG Web-site http://khpg.org.ua/index.php?id=1472626296
6. Visit to Colony # 85 (Fifth visit) - 09.09.2016, monitoring of the hospital in the colony. Meetings with the sentenced patients. The act with the description of the situation in the hospital was sent to administration of the Colony # 85, the reply was received with the recognition of the irregularities in leaving conditions and treatment of patients in the hospital of the colony.
7. Visit to Colony # 85 (Sixth visit) - 16.09.2016, monitoring of the hospital, work with the patient Zlenko, who required immediate release.
Participation in the broadcast at “Hromadske Radio” dedicated to the situation in the Colony # 85 and other colonies visited by the KHPG monitors where the handicapped persons serve their sentences https://hromadskeradio.org/programs/kyiv-donbas/v-odnoy-yz-kolonyy-otbyvaet-zaklyuchenye-chelovek-bez-konechnostey-pavlychenko
8. Visit to Colony # 85 (Seventh visit) - 27.09.2016, after the positive judicial verdict in Zhukov case the monitors have brought the official document (the decision of the Appeal Court) that helped to make Zhukov free in two hours ( instead of 3-4 days according to established procedure).
9. Visit to Colony # 85 (Eighth visit) on 04.10.2016 of KHPG monitors with the psychiatrist Mr. S. Shum. The patient Z. was observed and the psychiatrist opinion was elaborated with the aim to prepare the documents for sentenced Z. release. Unfortunately, Zlenko died, without having the court hearing in his case.
01.11.2016 Press-conference in the Interfax agency related to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights Konovalchuk against Ukraine, supported by KHPG Lawyer Vasyl Melnychuk http://ua.interfax.com.ua/news/press-conference/380752.html
Advocacy activity with the aim to promote the adoption of the draft law 2033-a by the Parliament (the draft law provides the possibility to reconsider verdicts of life-sentenced person when the doubts exists on judicial errors):
On 04.07.2017 and 09.08.2016 KHPG initiated in Ukrainian crisis media center the press briefings on absence in Ukraine the procedures aimed to correct the judicial errors.
The photo-exhibition on life sentenced persons was prepared and opened in Ukrainian crisis media center, the comments of the members of the parliaments and lawyers were collected (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW9DfwCkJ6Y) This exhibition was demonstrated later in the front of the Parliament (http://sun-org.od.ua/news/283-zakonoproekt-2033a-ostannoji-nadiji)
The number of articles in the media and video were published on this topic.
The interview with the politicians and lawyers demonstrated their opinion and attitude towards adoption of the draft-law 2033a were recorded (Yaroslav Yurchushyn, Andrij Karpenko, Igor Popov, Viktor Chumak, Yegor Sobolev, Mykola Kniazhytsky, Krulko, Derevianko, Viktor Shyshkin, Oksana Syroyid)
Development of the system for legal aid to victims of torture and ill treatment. See previous section. KHPG provides the legal aid to the persons in detention with the qualified work of KHPG lawyers.
Awareness-raising and educational activities. Along for the seconf half of 2016 we conducted two seminars for judges in Kyiv and Lviv as well as the 5-days school on human rights for human rights activists and training for student of the Lviv Institute of national affairs.
The School on human rights has been held on 23-27 August, 2016. This time the representatives of 18 organizations from 16 oblasts of Ukraine gathered in Kharkiv. Each participant obtained the package of documents and books that would help in the human rights protection work.
The listeners attended the lectures «The conception of human rights», «What is human rights defense?» (by Yevhen Zakharov), «Constitution of Ukraine in the modern context», «Information openness as universal requirement» (by Vsevolod Rechitsky), «Court defense of rights of vulnerable groups in a national level», «Human rights defense by the European court of human rights» (by Gennadiy Tokarev), and «Functioning of the NGO public reception offices» (ludmila Klochko). Such topics as «Human rights protection and politics», «Human rights protecting NGOs and the power», «Cooperation of human rights protecting organization», «Information exchange», «Organization of joint actions and campaigns», «NGOs and mass media» discussed in groups evoked the keen interest. In general, such discussions in small groups are the most favorite form of education, both for the participants and organizers.
In last two days of the School participants attended the lectures «Basic knowledge on management of NGOs», «Financing of human rights NGOs. Grounds of fundraising», «How does an NGO prepare project proposal?», «Project-by-project administration; preparing reports» by Yevhen Zakharov and worked in four small groups. In the course of the training on compiling a project four very interesting works, jointly created by the participants, were presented.
The aim of the school was not only the opportunity to share the knowledge and experience, but also (and maybe it was the most important) the opportunity to communicate, to express own opinions and to listen to the ideas of other people, sometimes arguable, but always very interesting. The participants demonstrated the maturity of the opinions, deep knowledge, tolerance and ability to hold a civilized discussion on every topic.
The greatest interest and the most active debates were aroused by the topics concerning the relations with the power and political parties. These topics are extremely exciting for human rights defenders and they must solve the problems connected with these relations very often. There are no ready recipes, so it is very important to formulate the main principles of such relations. The participants recognized unanimously that the collaboration of NGOs is necessary, and the joint actions are the lion’s share of such collaboration.
On November 16, 2016KHPG had conducted training «International standards of Court’s practice in the aspect the right to fair trial» for judges from Kiyv, Chernigiv, Vinnitsa, Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Dnipropetrovsk, Poltava, Kyrovograd, Donetsk, Luhansk regions. The training was conducted in Kyiv and was attended by 38 judges of local courts of the first instance.
The participants were greeted by Nataliia Okhotnikova, KHPG legal expert, who highlighted the main problems of implementation of the European Court’s judgments in the national court’s practice.
On the first lecture Nataliia Okhotnikova made presentation on the Implementation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Court’s case law in national courts. Also, issues of implementation of Articles 3 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the ECtHR practices in medical cases (HIV / AIDS) were highlighted.
On the second block Olena Ashchenko, KHPG legal expert, overviewed the main issues on Article 6 of the Convention in the context of criminal proceedings. Then she discussed with judges on main problems of non-compliance standards of the European Court in Ukraine and ways to overcome these problems.
In the last lecture Iryna Yakovets, PhD, Senior Research Fellow of Scientific Research Institute of study of criminality, overviewed the main issues on realization the right to fair trial during the execution of criminal penalties, and also cases concerning the execution of judgments concerning dismissal of prisoners due to illness. Mrs. Yakovets drew attention of the participants to the basic standards of realization on the right to fair trial of detained persons.
On November 17, 2016KHPG had conducted training «International standards of Court’s practice in the aspect the right to fair trial» for judges from Lviv, Lutsk, Uzhgorod, Donetsk, Luhansk regions. The training was conducted in Lviv and was attended by 42 judges of local courts of the first instance. Adenda of the training was the same as of the training of 16 November.
On November 18, 2016KHPG had conducted training «International standards of Court’s practice» for students of the Law Department of the Lviv University of Internal Affairs. During the training, legal experts of KHPG Olena Ashchenko and Nataliia Okhotnikova highlighted the problems of implementation of the European Court’s judgments in the Ukrainian court’s practice and discussed with students on typical cases of human rights violation in Ukraine.
Lecturers made the presentation on cases related to temporary occupation of the Crimea and effective control on the Donbass. There are cases concerning kidnapping people, punishment in the territory of the Crimea and Donbass (Article 6 of the Convention), holding people in captivity, etc.
Analytical, research, law-making and lobbying activities.
On 19 May 2016, the KHPG representatives took part in the meeting with the UN Subcommittee on Protection Torture. They presented information on the most crucial problems in the area of ill-treatment of inmates including the lack of medical care, punishment for refusal to work and forcing them to work much more time that it is set in law, leaving the inmates in awful conditions in the institutions on the territories are not under control of the Government etc. As well, they mentioned that the UN CAT recommendations issued on the results of consideration of the 6-th periodic report of Ukraine to the Committee, generally have not been fulfilled.
Given to the series of unlawful detention of migrants in course of both deportation and extradition according to the international agreement on legal assistance carried out in the second half of 2016, the KHPG experts prepared analytical review of the cases of unlawful arrests of aliens, unregistered and ungrounded holding them in detention facilities, arbitrary expulsion from Ukraine. The review was presented by a Director of the KHPG Mr. Zakharov and considered by the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights national minorities and interethnic relations on its sitting on presence of representatives of the State Migration Service (SMS), Sate Border Control Service (BCS), Security Service of Ukraine. The problems of hindering to access to legal aid for the detained aliens, their incommunicado detention, lack of official procedure of their nutrition in places of temporary detention at the border control checkpoints were illuminated to the Committee. The Committee issued recommendations to the above-mentioned agencies to eliminate the repressive practice against those, who are not involved in terrorist activity, pursued in their native countries on political grounds and seek for asylum in Ukraine.
In November, 2016 expert of the KHPG started to participate in the project on reformation of the practice of keeping in detention of the persons suspected in commitment of crime at the first period after the arrest, with the goal to implement the IT ‘Custody Record’ system. The KHPG experts shared their experience on the matter of international standards in the field of police detention, participated in series of meetings on discussing the ways of reformation of places of police detention, development of the system of thorough control above the contacts of the police staff with the detainees, by means of video recording and registration in the police database, accessible to the Human Rights Supervision Divisions of the National Police. The project is aimed to achieve the personal responsibility of police officers for well-being of detainees at any moment of the detention starting from the time of the physical apprehension until their release of transferring to the pretrial detention centers (SIZO).
In December 2016, experts of the SLC developed proposals on the matter of nutrition of the prisoners in Ukrainian penitentiary institutions connected with the reformation of the correctional system in Ukraine. The main idea of the proposals was to review the food standards on the basis of modern approaches of dietetics. The specific issue proposed for consideration is to reconsider of the norms of exchange of ‘basic’ kinds of food by their substitutes that on practice distorts normal nutrition of inmates. Also, proposals for improvement for selling foods in shops inside colonies and on civil control on the matter of nutrition of prisoners has been given. KHPG experts prepared the following chapters of the annual report of Ukrainian human rights protection organizations: the right to freedom; the right to be secured form torture and other form of ill-treatment; forcible disappearances of persons and torture of prisoners of war in Donbass and lack of official investigation
Since the beginning the work of the new Parliament KHPG experts started to prepare a weekly review of the bills that are passed in the corresponding week to the Parliament for consideration. Review includes list of drafts law concerning human rights with short preliminary analysis of the threatens for human rights and assessment of the quality of preparation of bills. In the second half of 2016 24 weekly reviews have been prepared, published and distribiuted through KHPG portal «Human Rights in Ukraine» http://khpg.org.
KHPG experts conduct analysis of national legislation, drafts law and practice on regular basis as well as created own drafts law in the penitentiary sphere and in the sphere of police activities. They have prepared many expert conclusions and analytical articles on human rights problem in different in question.
6. Defense of the rights of vulnerable groups with focusing on prisoners, drug users and people who live with HIV/AIDS and prisoners of war
The particular interests of the SLC is in cases of individuals from the vulnerable groups, where due to the specific vulnerability of the people violations of their rights are generally much extensive. In 2016 a number of the cases where the clients are inmates has significantly increased and reached 50 cases, 10 of which have been won. This category of final beneficiaries consists of persons serving punishment, being kept in detention on remand or held in facilities for illegal migrants. In the category of drug users’ cases KHPG lawyers participated in court proceedings presenting 32 clients from this vulnerable group, and 11 cases have been won. In 2016 number of cases where the SLC lawyers render legal aid to victims of terrorists in Donbass region in 2016 diminished because of the most of ‘prisoners of war’ had been released (exchanged to the criminals convicted by Ukrainian courts).
Information about specific categories of cases which the SLC lawyers participated is shown in the table.
Specific categories of cases
Drug users and HIV
Prisoners of War
Polischuk. v. Ukraine
Shyryn v. Ukraine
Dmytrenko. v. Ukraine
Grankov v. Ukraine
Grankov v. Ukraine
Mazanko v. Ukraine
Korneykova and Korneykov v. Ukraine
Patsev v. Ukraine
Mr. H. case
Konovalchuk v. Ukr.
Svetskiy v. Ukraine
Trachuk v. Ukraine
Zakshevskiy v. Ukraine
Tymchenko v. Ukraine
Panchuk v Ukraine
Umnikiv v. Ukraine
Rodzevillo v. Ukraine
Zakshevskiy v. Ukraine
Sogura v. Ukraine
Drazman v. Ukrine
Sukachov v. Ukraine
Zakshevskiy v. Ukraine
Euromaidan Kharkiv case
Kosko v. Ukraine
Glushchenko v. Ukraine
Khosha v. Ukraine
Yarovenko v. Ukraine
Kavinski v. Ulraine
Goncharenko v. Ukraine
Lopushynska v. Ukraine
Kus v. Ukraine
Rykov v. Ukraine
Laktionov v. Ukraine
Mr. P. case
Dobrobatko v. Ukraine
Grygoryev v. Ukraine
Grankov v. Ukraine
Novikov v. Ukraine
Osipov v. Ukraine
Sogura v. Ukraine
Rykov v. Ukrain
Gromov v. Ukraine
Trotchenko v. Ukraine
Sorokin v. Ukraine
Kuznetsov v. Ukraine
Panhuk v Ukraine
Shabala v. Ukraine
Sukachov v. Ukraine
Amirov v. Ukraine
Ali Turay case
Mrs. L. case
Ms. M.-L. case
Old lady’s case
Selivanov case no.2
7. Protection of the right to a fair trial in criminal proceedings
The KHPG SLC lawyers endeavour to achieve the fair trial in criminal proceedings including:
- reasonableness of judgments;
- non-violation of the privilege against self-incrimination and the right to silence;
- exercising of the right to defence through legal assistance of the lawyer, chosen on a defendant’s own or given free by the state from the first moment of criminal proceedings. The SLC lawyer represents a victim in criminal case on the matter of violation of the right to defence, the prosecution presented to court a lot of evidence of the guilt of the accused - former investigator previously worked in the case where the right to defence had been violated. The trial goes to the end, and the judgment is expected to be passed soon. Also, the SLC expert participated in assessment of the Legal Aid System activity in aspect of its compliance to international standards;
- recognition as inadmissible evidence obtained during unlawful search of the dwelling or other private property, particularly a weapon of crime;
- complying with the principle of equality of arms: letting the cross-examination of witnesses under the same conditions, providing the attendance of defense witnesses under the same conditions as witnesses of the prosecution, acceptance of the evidence collected in course of a lawyer’s investigation, assignment of an additional forensic examinations upon a motion of a defense lawyer;
- full realization by the defense the right to have the access to all evidence of the prosecution including material ones and those obtained upon results of covert police operations;
- lawfulness of exercising of confidential police operations – presence of grounds, compliance with procedural requirements, prosecutor’s or/and judicial control on the activity;
- preventing misuse of anonymous witnesses (witness protection), specifically of questioning of the witnesses with limitation rights of the defense party, adequate safeguards to protect the interests of the accused;
- proper application by courts the option of the agreement on admission the guilt between a prosecutor and a defendant, without compelling the defendant to do this;
- proving provocation of crimes on the part of police, use of police provocateurs, ‘duty’ eye witnesses dependent from police;
- making accent to referencing to the ECtHR case law on the matter of violations of Article 6 of the Convention.
- use by national courts legal positions of the ECtHR by referencing in their judgments to its case law.
The specific attention of the SLC lawyers concerning the issues of fair trial is paid in the cases on criminal persecution for offences relating to terrorist activity, crimes against national security etc. In such cases lawyers carry out scrutiny of each evidence of the prosecution, lawfulness of their obtaining, particularly in the aspect of use of force to get the confession.
The specific problem of fair trial in form of the lack of access to court for inmates which wish complaining unlawful decisions, actions and inactivity of penitentiary officers the SLC (which are routinely refused to consider on merits by courts). To solve the problem the SLC lawyer on behalf of an inmate applied to the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. Finally, this problem has been solved by amending of the CCP with a new provision that this category of cases is must be considered by courts of administrative jurisdiction.
8. Monitoring implementation of decisions of international bodies
Мonitoring of the ECtHR judgments against Ukraine and making its translations into Ukrainian.During the monitoring, 85 ECtHR’s judgments of the first half of 2016 against Ukraine were studied. 24 of them were translated and posted on the KHPG’s website:
Analysis of implementation of the ECtHR judgments was made according to the Law of Ukraine “On implementation of the ECtHR judgments and using the Court’s practice”.
The analysis was conducted by monitoring of the Council of Europe Ministers Committee’s website and Ukrainian governmental and non-governmental Internet resources: website of the Ministry of Justice, website of the Supreme Court, website of the High Specialized Court on criminal and civil cases, website of the High Administrative Court, websites of the Courts of Appeal, website precedent.ua, websites of lawyers’ unions and non-profit-making human rights organizations. Lists of the ECtHR judgments against Ukraine in related to imprisonment cases were made and published in two books: «Judgments of the ECtHR on violations of prisoners’ rights on Articles 2, 3 and 8 of the ECHR» (600 pages) and «Judgments of the ECtHR against Ukraine on Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention on violations of prisoners’ rights for medical aid» (560 pages). A research on implementations of the ECtHR’s judgments towards prisoners was conducted on the ground of these publications: «Implementation of the ECtHR judgments in penitentiary (2013-2014)».
Additionally, an analysis of implementation of the ECtHR judgments on the KHPG lawyers’ applications was made by filing informational requests to the Ministry of Justice and judicial bodies.
Also some relevant for Ukraine judgments were translated into Russian:
Examples of successful implementation of the ECtHR judgments in the KHPG’s projects.
The KHPG lawyers permanently use the ECtHR practice as legal grounds in their reasoning in national courts cases. Types of cases:
- choosing of preventive measure for an accused person;
- re-considering of sentences by the higher courts on the basis of the ECtHR’s judgments on violations of Article 6 of the Convention in a part of inadmissible evidence using;
- reasoning the position of defense by the ECtHR’s practice at courts of all instances.
It is important to publish information about successful for the KHPG’s lawyers ECtHR judgments to develop the process of its implementation in national legal system. We pay to it more and more attention. Links to publications are following:
9. Struggle against discrimination, racism, xenophobia and hate crimes
KHPG monitors and monitors from the partner organizations continued to gather and check information on facts of discrimination, hate crime and hate speech from the side of state bodies in all regions of the country including occupied territories and ATO zone. We worked with domestic monitors in different regions of Ukraine and used reports of the monitoring missions to the liberated territories of ATO Zone. We also used reports of Crimea Human Rights Protection Group an Crimean Tatars NGOs about situation on the territories occupied by RF: Crimea and Sevastopol. We also investigated the information in media and Internet, and analyzed the treatment of people who moved from the occupied territories of Donbass and Lugansk regions and liberated hostages. The monitoring involved identifying “hate crime”, “hate speech”, as well as xenophobia and racist behavior especially by state officers or public persons and the response of the authorities, in particular the law enforcement agencies to such cases. Monitors have provided 836 legal aid consultations in cases on discrimination, xenophobia and hate crimes including 623 consultations of IDPs.
Results of the monitoring were summarized in the books «Hate crime in Ukraine: 2015» and «Hate crime in Ukraine – 2016». The printed version of the first book has published and distributed. Second book will be published in the first half of 2017.
It should be noted that level of xenophobia is significantly increased due to the occupation of the Crimea, the military conflict in the East of the country and a large migration from the Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk regions to other parts of the country.
10. Activities against political persecution in Ukraine
KHPG continued monitoring of political persecutions against so-called separatists, «enemies of Ukraine». This monitoring was conducted with the aim of determination whether in Ukraine there are people who meet the definition “political prisoner” according to the PACE Resolution of 3 October 2012 no1900 (2012) , in particular, whether there are any political motives in the criminal proceedings and if rights and liberties provided in the European Convention on Human Rights have been violated in the scope of the proceedings. The issue of presence or absence of political prisoners in Ukraine is an important aspect of the Ukrainian-Russian relations and constitute the subject of speculations on the part of Russia, where there are statements about hundreds of political prisoners in Ukraine. Simultaneously, this issue is an indicator of the level of democracy in the state. Consequently, specific research on this problem is very important.
It is clear a priori that criminal prosecution under some Articles of the Criminal Code of Ukraine have or may have political motives: under Articles 109 (actions aimed at violent change or overthrow of the constitutional order or capturing the state power), 110 (separatism, i.e. encroachment on territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine), 114 (espionage), 258 (a terrorist act), other Articles related to terrorist activities (258-1, 258-2 etc.), Articles 294 (mass disturbances) and 341 (capture of buildings). In addition, the following crimes could be politically motivated: the illegal imprisonment or kidnapping (Article 146), intentional destruction or damage of property (Article 194) and illegal handling of weapons, ammunition or explosives (Article 263). Monitoring of political persecution is aimed at identification of criminal cases with presence of political motives during the investigation of the trial on which there have been violations of Articles 3, 5, 6 and possibly other Articles of the European Convention and its Protocols. Thus, according to the PACE Resolution, individuals who have committed violent crimes (murder) and terrorist acts (bombings, sabotage by general dangerous method), as well as persons who are prosecuted for statements of incitement to violence against any group of persons distinguished by common characteristics (eg, regional or ethnic origin) are not recognized as political prisoners.
Monitoring of political persecution was carried out by the following methods:
A) Conducting search on the Internet and social networks for getting information about criminal cases on the above Articles and their investigation;
B) Establishing communications with lawyers who work on these cases and obtaining from them information on the criminal proceedings, decisions regarding preventive measures etc;
B) Analysis of sentences on the above Articles downloaded from the Registry of court decisions;
D) Media monitoring of relevant media and Internet resources - websites of the Ministry of Interior, the Security Service of Ukraine, the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, the court bodies, political parties, etc.
The specifics of monitoring of political persecution consists in the fact that its result can not always be made public due to various reasons - the secrecy of investigation, the risk of harm to a victim of persecutions and others. Publication of these results is made in cases when the prosecution has already got into the public sphere, and/or results of the monitoring are undeniable and/or publication will benefit for a victim of persecutions. Examples of such publications are as follows:
11. Security Services in a Constitutional Democracy: oversight and accountability
KHPG members carried on monitoring human rights violations from the side of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU), analysis SSU’s activities in the fields of defense state secrets and other classified information, analysis SSU’s activities in the fields of wiretapping and other forms of interception of communications as well analysis SSU’s activities against terrorism and separatism. It should be noted that KHPG is only organization in Ukraine that conducts monitoring the SSU activities in order to prevent violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Results of monitoring showed that there was misuse of law in criminal cases concerning terrorist acts and separatist acts as well as treason on motherland. For example, cases of Ruslan Kotsaba and Andriy Zakharchuk, which were charged with state treason, are examples of typical political persecution. Very dubious cases were criminal persecutions of member of voluntary batalions.
The most serious violations were actions of the SSU concerning exchange of prisoners of wars and hostages. The process of release and exchange is totally closed from the public and monopolized by the SSU which cites the need for secrecy. Who it is that takes decisions about exchanges is presently unknown. It is however known that the SSU is forced to create a so-called ‘exchange fund’. People are charged with ‘separatism’ under Article 110 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code, or with another crime. A written agreement is taken to be part of an exchange (sometimes this happens during the trial), the criminal proceedings are terminated and they’re held in custody in the SSU somewhere until the exchange takes place. This disgraceful practice is absolutely beyond the realms of law, however in Ukraine they are force to resort to this in order to free hostages and prisoners.
It is obvious that KHPG has to continue to monitor SSU activities in all spheres.
12. Dissemination of information on human rights and basic freedoms in Ukraine, civil education and aware-raising activities
In the reported period KHPG updated own portal “Human Rights in Ukraine” http://khpg.org on a daily basis (3-4 new materials in Ukrainian or Russian and 5-7 new materials in English per day), specialized site «Against Torture!» http://maidanua.org/special/pk/ for victims of torture and ill-treatment in a daily basis (3-4 new materials per day), site http://library.khpg.org (virtual library on human rights) on a weekly basis (4-5 new books per week), and site http://archive.khpg.org (virtual museum and archive of dissident movement in Ukraine) on a weekly basis (1-2 new materials per week). The most interesting materials were disseminated in the social networks.
It should be noted that an average number of visitors of the KHPG portal http://khpg.org is reached 2079 visitors per day (in total, 380 544 visits). More 40% of visitors were Ukrainian-reading readers. About 60% of vistors were English-reading readers. More detailed information is given in the following table.
Furthermore, KHPG prepared published and distributed a bulletin «Prava Ludyny» («Human Rights») two times per month and the monthly English bulletin «Prava Ludyny», extract from these two issues, as well as monthly bulletin «Human Rights. Civic Education» (each bulletin consists of 12 pages A4 format) and quarterly «Freedom of Expression and Privacy».
We have published 10 books (list of the books see Annex 2) and 18 newsletters.
In addition, we sent information materials and books produced by KHPG to NGOs and individuals according to the requests. The KHPG library with open access (more than 12,000 books on law, human rights, history, political sciences, political repressions, etc., and periodic editions) permanently is functioned.
13. Studies of history of human rights movement in USSR and Ukraine and history of political repression in USSR
KHPG continued to collect archive documents on dissident movement in former USSR and Ukraine and program of oral history (interview with ex-dissidents). We continued to translate biographies of dissidents and interviews with them into English as well as to digitize audio tapes and photos. We created the systematic physical archive of dissident movement in Ukraine and electronic archive. In total, we have translated into English and placed on website http://archive.khpg.org 275 biography references, 157 interviews. We digitized 210 oral interviews and 2600 photos. Documents and other materials were allocated by archival fonds. Description of 4 fonds was made. Also, the materials of one of the archival fond (Vasyl Ovsiyenko’s and other fonds) were digitized in 7450 files.
14. KHPG organizational development
KHPG has made new versions of the following management documents:
a) Financial policy and procedures;
b) Procurement policy;
c) Fraud policy;
In addition, KHPG has created and started to use the new management documents:
a) Assets management;
b) Procedures and systems of the internal control of the transfer of money between the Projects;
c) Regulation on performers of the KHPG projects.
These documents are implemented into day-to-day KHPG activities.
In January-February 2016 KHPG successfully conducted an international audit for 2015 by the LLC «Audit and Consulting Group “Compass” ».
In 2016 average salaries of the staff increased more than five times in comparison to 2012. Now it is 12500 UAH. Each staff member of KHPG has an individual career development plan including career goals and increases own potential through training and education. All 21 staff members took part in 42 educational events, including 7 events abroad with working language English. 14 workers of the KHPG continue studies English twice a week (1.5 hours). In total there were 129 lessons in the reported period.
List of the grants fulfilled by KHPG in 2015
We use the following abbreviations:
EC – European Commission
NED – National Endowment for Democracy (USA)
DFATD – Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
ODIHR OSCE - The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
HFHR – Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Warsaw)
Information on current grants is given in the following table.
Civic campaign against torture and ill-treatment
12/06/2014 – 11/06/2016
€ 260 000
Human Rights Defence of Internal Displaced Persons in Ukraine with focusing Kharkiv oblast
20/06/2015 – 19/06/2016
€ 1 789 055 (KHPG –
€ 40 000)
Co-operation in realization of the project “Kiev Dialogue”
01/09/2015 – 30/04/2016
German Foreign Affairs Ministry
€ 9 200
Monitoring human rights compliance and norms of the international humanitarian laws in the south-eastern regions of Ukraine, affected by the conflict
15/02/2016 – 15/11/2016
€ 19 780
Institutional Support for 2016-2017
01/01/2016 – 30/06/2017
$ 130 000
Providing Information and Analysis on Human Rights
01/02/2016 – 31/01/2017
$ 37 000
Improvement of access to justice and defence of the right to a fair trial for vulnerable groups in Ukraine
15/06/2016 – 14/06/2018
€ 260 000
Protecting Human Rights Through Improved Access To Legal Aid (subgrant for support of the KHPG PRO)
01/01/2016 – 31/12/2016
DFATD, Canada Government
€ 17 150
Action to ensure the respect of human rights in the armed conflict zone and on its bordering territories in Donbass, Ukraine
20/05/2016 – 19/05/2019
U.S. Department through HFHR (Warsaw)
$ 255 360