“Prava Ludiny” (human rights) monthly bulletin, 2006, #02
The Pechersky District Courts Resolution of 10.02.06 Politics and human rights
Local self-government bodies are turning into pardoning machines for dodgy deputies (Notes and reflections on a press conference in the prosecutors office) Illusions Freedom of expression
In Sumy a newspaper has been closed. Is the closure of media outlets during the elections becoming a tradition? Environmental rights
The Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) takes responsibility for the recent deportation of refugees NOT FORGOTTEN! More on the Uzbek asylum seekers PRESS RELEASE from the Society of Uzbek Political Refugees in Ukraine PUBLIC STATEMENT FROM UKRAINIAN CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS ON THE EXTRADITION OF UZBEK ASYLUM SEEKERS Open Appeal from Russian NGOs to the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko PRESS CONFERENCE IN KYIV ON THE DEPORTATION OF UZBEK ASYLUM SEEKERS A Cover-up now will be a second betrayal: an open letter regarding the deportation of Uzbek asylum seekers Uzbeks seek protection Ukraine has illegally deported 10 Uzbek refugees Ukrainian Security Service sends Uzbeks home
The Pechersky District Courts Resolution of 10.02.06
IN THE NAME OF UKRAINE
On 10 February 2006 the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv sitting as a panel of judges consisting of:
The Chairperson O.V. Umnova
and judges: O.V. Kafidrova
and with the Registrar: P.A. Skopenko
Having reviewed in an open court hearing in Kyiv the administrative suit lodged by the bloc of Natalya Vitrenko “Narodna opozytsiya” [“Peoples opposition”], the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine and the Party “Rusko-Ukrainian Union” (RUS”) against the Minister of Internal Affairs, Yury Vitaliyovych Lutsenko, a third party – the limited liability company (LLC) “The Editorial Office of the newspaper “Fakty”, a journalist of the newspaper “Fakty” Anatoly Havrysh, the Internet publication “Ukrainska Pravda”, the Internet publication “Censor.NET” - calling for the recognition as unlawful of the omission, lack of authority and actions of a State official of the executive, a media outlet and business enterprises, -
The claimant represented by V.D. Tsymalyuk had lodged an administrative suit with the court against the Minister of Internal Affairs, Y.V. Lutsenko, the LLC “The Editorial Office of the newspaper “Fakty”, a journalist of the newspaper “Fakty” Anatoly Havrysh, the Internet publication “Ukrainska Pravda”, the Internet publication “Censor.NET” - calling for a recognition as unlawful of the omission, lack of authority and actions of a State official of the executive, a media outlet and business enterprises. He substantiated his demand on the grounds that on 27.12.2005, during a direct (online) conference on the Internet publication “Ukrainska Pravda”, the respondent made public negative information about the political, business and personal qualities of candidates for the office of State Deputy from several electoral factions, including those from the Bloc of Natalya Vitrenko “Narodna opozytsiya” . As a result of this a resolution of the Central Election Commission (CEC) from 5.01.2006 №73 declared that the above-mentioned actions contained elements of pre-election campaigning. The same resolution of the CEC drew the attention of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Y.V. Lutsenko to the need for unswerving adherence to the requirements of Ukrainian electoral legislation. However Mr Lutskenko, ignoring the CEC Resolution, did not take measures to withdraw his pre-election campaigning from the media outlets and Internet publications which continued to publicize his interview and statements which had been classified by the law as one of the forms of pre-election campaigning. For example, the interview was published in the newspaper “Fakty” in №3 (2040) from 6.01.2006, and placed on the Internet publications “Ukrainska Pravda” and Censor.NET. He considers that the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine did not have the right to take part in pre-election campaigning and by his “omission” allowed the dissemination of negative information about candidates for the office of State Deputy of Ukraine from the Bloc of Natalya Vitrenko. He asks that the omission of the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Y.V. Lutsenko, in not taking measures to put a stop to the running of pre-election campaigning about the political, business and personal qualities of State Deputy candidates from the bloc of Natalya Vitrenko “Narodna opozytsiya”, the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine (PSPU) and the Party “Rusko-Ukrainian Union” (RUS”) after the passing of Resolution №73 of the Central Election Commission from 5.01.2006 be declared unlawful; that it be recognized that the holder of State authority, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Y.V. Lutsenko did not have the competence (authority) to discuss with the public, pro-government or opposition parties the political, business and personal qualities of State Deputy candidates from the bloc of Natalya Vitrenko “Narodna opozytsiya”, the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine and the Party “Rusko-Ukrainian Union” (RUS”), nor to act as an expert on these issues; that the actions of the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Y.V. Lutsenko, the Editor of the newspaper “Fakty” and its journalist Anatoly Havrysh, the Internet publications “Ukrainska Pravda” and Censor.NET be declared unlawful in having carried out pre-election campaigning by way of discussing the political, business and personal qualities of State Deputy candidates from the bloc of Natalya Vitrenko “Narodna opozytsiya”, the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine and the Party “Rusko-Ukrainian Union” (RUS”) with the participation of a State official of the executive; that the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Y.V. Lutsenko, the Editor of the newspaper “Fakty” and the Internet publications “Ukrainska Pravda” and Censor.NET be legally bound to refrain from any pre-election campaigning which does not comply with electoral legislation of Ukraine; that the court legally bind the editorial office of the newspaper “Fakty” to publish and place at their electronic address http://facts.kiev.ua, and the Internet publications “Ukrainska Pravda” and Censor.NET to place on their electronic addresses, http://pravda.com.ua and http://censor.net.ua, respectively, the concluding part of the Resolution of the court within 5 days of its coming into force; that the court legally bind the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Y.V. Lutsenko to provide the court with copies of the protocols on elucidating the rights of candidates for the office of Deputy from the bloc of Natalya Vitrenko “Narodna opozytsiya” suspected of having committed crimes, as well as evidence that candidates for the office of Deputy from the bloc of Natalya Vitrenko “Narodna opozytsiya” were on police wanted lists; that the Internet publications “Ukrainska Pravda” and Censor.NET be legally bound to provide the court with documents confirming that they are on the Single State Register of Businesses and Organizations of Ukraine (SSRBOU).
At the court hearing, the representatives of the claimant according to procedure in the Code of Administrative Justice (CAJ) changed their demands and asked that the omission of the Minister of Internal Affairs, Y.V. Lutsenko, in not taking measures to put a stop to the running of pre-election campaigning about the political, business and personal qualities of State Deputy candidates from the bloc of Natalya Vitrenko “Narodna opozytsiya”, the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine and the Party “Rusko-Ukrainian Union” (RUS”) after the passing of Resolution №73 of the Central Election Commission from 5.01.2006 be declared unlawful; that it be recognized that the holder of State authority, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Y.V. Lutsenko did not have the competence (authority) to discuss with the public, pro-government or opposition parties the political, business and personal qualities of State Deputy candidates from the bloc of Natalya Vitrenko “Narodna opozytsiya”, the PSPU and the Party “Rusko-Ukrainian Union” (RUS”), nor to act as an expert on these issues; that the actions of the State official of the executive, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Y.V. Lutsenko. be declared unlawful in having carried out pre-election campaigning by way of discussing the political, business and personal qualities of State Deputy candidates from the bloc of Natalya Vitrenko “Narodna opozytsiya”, the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine and the Party “Rusko-Ukrainian Union” (RUS”); that the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Y.V. Lutsenko, be legally bound to refrain from engaging in any further pre-election campaigning without adherence to Ukrainian electoral legislation.
D.B. Horbac, representing the respondent, rejected the suit and asked that the court not satisfy its demands. In justifying this position he stated that according to CEC Resolution №73, to which the claimant had referred, the Ministers attention had been merely drawn to the need to unswervingly comply with Ukrainian electoral legislation, and the Resolution had not legally bound him to not carry out pre-election campaigning. He added that the respondent, as a citizen of Ukraine, had the right to express opinions and discuss issues which concerned the political, business and personal qualities of candidates for the office of State Deputy on condition that such actions did not fall into the category of “pre-election campaigning”, which had been the case in the given instance. He considered that the statements of the Minister to the Mass Media could not be viewed as activity for the purpose of encouraging voters to vote for or against any participant of the electoral process, and that an interview constituted merely answering the questions of a journalist.
The representative of the third party, the limited liability company (LLC) “The Editorial Office of the newspaper “Fakty”, M.V. Lebedeva supported the position taken by the claimants representative and asked that the claim be rejected. She supplemented this stand by stating that in its activities the respondent and journalists were in the first instance guided by the provisions of the Laws of Ukraine “On Printed Mass Communication Media,” and «On information» and had in no way violated the rights or the interests of the claimant. The Department for Public Relations of the MIA of Ukraine had informed the LLC ““The Editorial Office of the newspaper “Fakty” about the trip of the Minister of Internal Affairs around regions of Ukraine, during which the latter would be giving interviews, and since the journalist A. Havrysh was responsible within the editorial office for covering issues connected with crime, it was he who had been sent to take an interview.
A. Havrysh, who had been informed by the court as required about the day, time and place of the review of the case, did not appear at the court hearing. According to the LLC ““The Editorial Office of the newspaper “Fakty”, Mr Havrysh is on sick leave.
The third parties – the Internet publication “Ukrainska Pravda” and the Internet publication “Censor.NET” did not send their representatives to the court hearing, having been notified by telex in accordance with the requirements of the CAJ of Ukraine.
The Panel of Judges, having listened to the explanations from the parties and studied the material of the case deem it possible to consider the case in the absence of the third parties on the basis of the available evidence in the case, and to satisfy the claim, on the following grounds.
From the material of the case it appears that the respondent on 27.12.2005 during a direct (online) conference on the Internet publication “Ukrainska Pravda” made public negative information about the political, business and personal qualities of candidates for the office of State Deputy from several electoral factions, including those from the Bloc of Natalya Vitrenko “Narodna opozytsiya”
A resolution of the Central Election Commission from 5.01.2006 № 73 declared that the above-mentioned actions contained elements of pre-election campaigning. The same resolution of the CEC drew the attention of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Y.V. Lutsenko to the need for unswerving adherence to the requirements of Ukrainian electoral legislation.
In issue № 3 (2040) from 6.01.2006 the newspaper «Fakty» published an interview with the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Y.V. Lutsenko, in which under the heading “Tête-à-tête encounter” on page 6 it was stated: “In Vitrenkos candidate list the entire circle is represented around the Russian businessman Kurochkin who is wanted for questioning, as well as people who are suspected of involvement in the activities of an organized criminal gang”, and “I assert my right to inform society which parties and blocs candidate lists hold the names of individuals of interest to the MIA”. The given information was circulated by the Internet publications “Ukrainska Pravda” and “Censor.NET”. In accordance with Part 1 of Article 112 of the Law of Ukraine «On the election of State Deputies of Ukraine”, a participant in the electoral process may appeal against the actions or omissions of a State executive body, a body or local self-government, a business, institution, institute or organization, their officials or functionaries which are related to the non-fulfilment of the duties imposed upon them by the law, or to the unlawful interference into the activity of electoral commissions or their members, as well as to their non-compliance with the requirements of the law on issues of pre-election campaigning.
According to Part 1 of Article 66 of the Law of Ukraine «On the election of State Deputies of Ukraine” “Pre-election campaigning shall be deemed to be engaging in any activity for the purpose of encouraging voters to vote for or against a particular participant in the electoral process. Pre-election campaigning may take any forms and be carried out using any means which are not in contravention of the Constitution of Ukraine and the laws of Ukraine. In Article 66, Point 8 Part 2 of this Law such forms are , in particular, recognized as being public assessments of the activity of parties (blocs) taking part in the electoral process or their candidates for Deputy.
According to Part 2 of Article 19 of the Constitution of Ukraine, State executive bodies and bodies of local self-government and their officials are obliged to act only on the grounds, within the limits of authority, and in the manner envisaged by the Constitution and the laws of Ukraine.
The court has established that the respondent was appointed to the office of Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine by a Decree of the President of Ukraine on 27..09.2005 № 1368/2005 and is a member of the Cabinet of Ministers, the highest body in the system of State executive bodies.
The powers of the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, who is in charge of the entire police force and is a holder of State authority, are set out in the Law of Ukraine “On the Police”, by the Decree of the President of Ukraine from 17.10.2000 № 1138/2000 in the version from 6.04.2004, which was approved by the “Provisions on the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine”.
The panel of judges has found that the respondent, in violation of the requirements of the Constitution of Ukraine, the Law of Ukraine «On the election of State Deputies of Ukraine” did effectively carry out pre-election campaigning through his public negative statements about the political, business and personal qualities of candidates for the office of State Deputy of Ukraine, included in the candidate lists of the electoral bloc of Natalya Vitrenko “Narodna opozytsiya”, the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine and the Party “Rusko-Ukrainian Union” (RUS”).
The panel of judges does not accept the argument given by the respondents representative which stressed that the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, in giving an interview, was expressing his opinion as a Ukrainian citizen, since from the explanations given by the representative of the LLC “The Editorial Office of the newspaper “Fakty” it would appear that the initiator of the interview was the Department for Public Relations of the MIA of Ukraine, and that the journalist was to talk specifically to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. Furthermore, the respondent as a State official and a holder of State authority in his interviews imparted information that a citizen of Ukraine without any contact with the structure of the MIA of Ukraine would not possess, whereas the respondent in view of his State authority and powers was in possession of such information.
In its assessment of the evidence gathered in connection with the case, the panel of judges considers that the negative utterances made by the respondent created a certain impression with voters regarding candidates for the office of State Deputy from the electoral bloc of Natalya Vitrenko “Narodna opozytsiya”, the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine and the Party “Rusko-Ukrainian Union” (RUS”). Article 71 of the Law of Ukraine «On the election of State Deputies of Ukraine” establishes restrictions on the carrying out of pre-election campaigning for the elections of State Deputies of Ukraine. In accordance with points 2 and 3 of Part 1 of this Article, one of the said restrictions is the prohibition on State executive bodies, and the officials and functionaries of these bodies, taking part in pre-election campaigning, failing cases when the relevant State official or functionary is a candidate for the office of Deputy.
The panel of judges has thus determined that the respondent – the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine is a holder of State authority and is not a candidate to the office of Deputy, and does not have the right to take part in pre-election campaigning since this is prohibited by Article 71 of the Law of Ukraine «On the election of State Deputies of Ukraine”
In accordance with Article 177 of the CAJ of Ukraine, namely with the specific features of court rulings on the outcome of reviews of cases connected with the electoral process or the running of a referendum and their appeal, the court, having established the violation of legislation on the elections or on a referendum, shall determine in its resolution the means of defence of the violated rights and interests, and also the procedure for rectifying all consequences of these violations in accordance with the law.
Under these circumstances, the panel of judges considers that the suit lodged by the electoral bloc of Natalya Vitrenko “Narodna opozytsiya”, the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine and the Party “Rusko-Ukrainian Union” (RUS”) should be satisfied in full.
On the basis of the above, governed by the Constitution of Ukraine, the Law of Ukraine «On the election of State Deputies of Ukraine”, Articles .2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 17, 19, 49, 50, 76, 104, 158, 159, 160, 161, 163, 167, 172, 174, 177, 178 of the CAJ of Ukraine, Part 5 of the Final and Transitional Provisions of the CAJ of Ukraine, the panel of judges –
To satisfy the suit lodged by the bloc of Natalya Vitrenko “Narodna opozytsiya”, the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine and the Party “Rusko-Ukrainian Union” (RUS”).
To declare unlawful the omission of the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Yury Vitaliyovych. Lutsenko, in not taking measures to put a stop to the running of pre-election campaigning about the political, business and personal qualities of State Deputy candidates from the bloc of Natalya Vitrenko “Narodna opozytsiya”, the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine and the Party “Rusko-Ukrainian Union” (RUS”) after the adoption by the Central Election Commission on 5.01.2006 of Resolution №73.
To recognize that the holder of State authority, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Yury Vitaliyovych. Lutsenko, did not have the competence (authority) to discuss with the public, pro-government or opposition parties the political, business and personal qualities of State Deputy candidates from the bloc of Natalya Vitrenko “Narodna opozytsiya”, the PSPU and the Party “Rusko-Ukrainian Union” (RUS”), nor to act as an expert on these issues.
To declare unlawful the actions of the State official of the executive, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Yury Vitaliyovych. Lutsenko. in having carried out pre-election campaigning by way of discussing the political, business and personal qualities of State Deputy candidates from the bloc of Natalya Vitrenko “Narodna opozytsiya”, the PSPU and the Party “Rusko-Ukrainian Union” (RUS”).
To legally bind the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Yury Vitaliyovych. Lutsenko, to refrain from engaging in any further pre-election campaigning without adherence to Ukrainian electoral legislation.
This Resolution may be appealed in the Appeal Court of the city o Kyiv through the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv within two days of the day of its pronouncement.
The Panel of Judges
The Chairperson (signature) O.V. Umnova
and judges: (signature) O.V. Kafidrova
(signature) T.V. Ostapchuk
Politics and human rights
Local self-government bodies are turning into pardoning machines for dodgy deputies (Notes and reflections on a press conference in the prosecutors office)
According to data from the official of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, the number of refusals to allow charges to be brought against deputies of local councils who are suspected of having committed a crime, stands at 400. In the absolute majority of cases, sessions of local councils rejected prosecutors appeals. The Ternopil regional council has not satisfied any of the 5 appeals to lay criminal charges against local council deputies. . The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in turn has considered none of the criminal cases rejected by regional councils and is clearly not planning to review its decision No. 2854-IV “On introducing amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On the status of deputies of local councils””.
Meanwhile, the large-scale epidemic of “absolution” of “peoples representatives” threatens to destroy both of the system of Ukrainian justice and local self-government. It will therefore be no surprise if, as a result of the 2006 elections, we end up with an even more criminal contingent in local councils.
This alarming situation was discussed at a press conference given by Yuri Holub, the Ternopil Regional Prosecutor, which was held on 6 February in Ternopil. The prosecutor commented on specific criminal cases connected with deputies of local councils which have not been passed to court. Since October 2005, when amendments were introduced to Article 30 of the Law of Ukraine “On the status of deputies of local councils”, as a result of which deputies were granted immunity, prosecutors bodies have launched 20 criminal cases against deputies of all levels. Only 8 criminal cases have been directed to court, and verdicts handed down. Another 5 cases were closed by courts since councils did not give their consent to bring criminal charges. 5 more cases were closed by prosecutors office for the same reason.
The Principal of the Berezhany boarding school, a deputy of the district council, was mentioned among those against whom criminal cases had been started this year. A criminal investigation had found that the had misappropriated more than 3000 UH compiling fictitious documents on aid for the children.
A deputy head of the Berezhany district police department who is accused of bribe-taking can also not be brought to justice. The “law enforcer” from Berezhany is a deputy of the Pustomytovskiy district council of the Lviv region, and the local deputies, naturally, do not dare to sully his police uniform. Paradoxically, this policeman is continuing to work in his position at the Berezhany district police department!
The criminal case started against the mayor of the town of Skalat, who is accused of bribe-taking and other crimes, has been closed too “for non-rehabilitating reasons”. A very interesting formulation, is it not?
In December 2005 the Ternopil regional council refused to bring charges against a deputy of the Zborivska district council, the head of the board of the joint-stock company “Zborivgaz”, accused of premeditated evasion of payment to local revenue of the income tax from salaries of employees to the sum of 50 thousand UH. A similar accusation was made by the prosecutors office against another holder of a deputy mandate, the manager of the company “Krasiyivske” of the Monastyrsky district. This case was also not passed to court. At the January session of the Ternopil regional council colleagues-deputies “protected” from liability the manager of the company “Vilna Ukraina” of the Buchatskiy district, who illegally used the property of shareholders of the company and did not pay about 187 thousand UH of rent to 821 shareholders. On the same day the regional council rejected the prosecutors appeal concerning a deputy of the same Buchatskiy council, the manager of the company “Promin”. The investigation here had concluded that as a result of misuse of state bank loans, he had caused the state losses to the tune of 125 thousand UH…
It is interesting that none of the deputies against whom accusations of crimes have been brought, have acknowledged his guilt. And none of them could explain why they did not want to prove their innocence in court.
Only once have deputies of local councils of the Ternopil region agreed to subject their colleague to criminal charges: having demonstrated a disliking for the head of the architectural department of the Kozivskiy district, a deputy of a village council.
In summing up, Yuri Holub stated that the prosecutors office had prepared appeals to have charges brought against other deputies too, but they were not optimistic about their prospects. It is obvious to everybody that the deputies closing of ranks is impregnable…
I should point out that the deputies use the unique (from the viewpoint of craftiness) argument for turning down the prosecutors appeals to bring charges against their colleagues: “Of course, we have objections against deputys immunity! Yet reviewing criminal charges is not the task for local councils. We are not a court, so go away with your appeals – we will not vote either for agreement or refusal!”
Naturally, the largest number of journalists questions were connected with the notorious case of the Head of the Ternopil regional council Anatoly Zhukinskiy, especially because recently the press service of the council has communicated that the Head has resumed his work.
In November 2005 the bulletin “Prava Ludyny” informed their readers about the refusal of the regional council to satisfy the prosecutors appeal to bring charges against Zhukinskiy. The law enforcement bodies accused Zhukinskiy of large-scale misappropriation of revenue. The regional prosecutor stated that, in connection with the refusal of the regional council to give its consent for bringing charges against Zhukinskiy, the case against him had been closed in compliance with Article 30 of the Law of Ukraine “On the status of deputies of local councils”. He said that the prosecutors appeal to the Parliament had not been passed for plenary consideration yet – it had “got stuck” somewhere in the Verkhovna Rada committees. In connection with the closure of the criminal case, the decision about dismissal of Zhukinskiy from his post was cancelled. Yuri Golub stated: that the case had been closed for the same “non-rehabilitating reasons”. This means that the criminal prosecution can be resumed if the legislation is modified. The prosecutor insists that Anatoly Zhukinskiy has already “voluntarily” recompensed some part of the material damage caused to the regional budget, but refuses to pay the rest saying that he is not guilty. However, he does not want to prove in court that he did not steal the almost 100 thousand UH.
The last journalists question was the following: “Can the head of the regional council who is still accused of misappropriation of budget money be elected a deputy again?” It seems so.
Finita la comedia. Curtain, wild applause…
Here the question arise: should deputies not demand from their Head an explanations about the circumstances of his case and his return to the post of the Head of the highest representative organ of the region? Do none of them wish to express an opinion about the inadmissibility of this situation from the legal and moral-ethical points of view? Is it possible that all of them have to pretend that there are no problems and that large-scale stealing of taxpayers money can be tolerated?
Unfortunately, during consideration at the past sessions of the questions on deputies immunity, only a few deputies appeared on the tribune repeating: «Pereat mundus, fiat Justitio» («The Law must be enforced against all the odds). Unfortunately, the Presidium of the regional council has twice refused to approve the proposal of deputy S. on the early suspension of the authority of the head of the Ternopil regional council Zhukinskiy, who “over nine months has not done his duty, has not given any information about his intentions, about his ability to return to work and about his readiness to prove his innocence in court”.
In conclusion I would like to say that a week ago an open letter by deputy Zhukinskiy was passed to the editor of the newspaper with the fine-sounding name “Svoboda” (“Liberty”), issued by the regional council. In the letter Zhukinskiy expressed his willingness to step down from his post as Head of the regional council. The decision as to whether to publish this letter in the newspaper has not been taken yet.
Yesterday we lost a court case. It was no ignominious defeat, having previously deflected several attempts by the respondent (representatives of the President and Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine) to persuade the panel of judges to throw out the case entirely. Nonetheless, we lost.
The Decision of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine regarding the Law of Ukraine “On amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On the status of Deputies of local councils” was not declared illegal, as were not the related omission and actions of the President (as Guarantor of the Constitution) in not imposing his veto on this Law, and in signing it, respectively. So, the immunity of “local” Deputies, introduced on the arbitrary will of our “quasi-parliament”, and which directly contravenes the Constitution of Ukraine, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and at least four decisions of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine (№7-ZP from 23.12.97, №1-рп/98 from 26.02.98, №9-рп/2000 from 12.07.00, №5-zp from 30.10.97), has held its ground. For now….
During my legal career I have both won and lost cases. I cant get away from the latter, and there would be no sense in trying to hide them, since in post-Soviet conditions a near 100% success rate is more indicative of mastery in, lets say, using contacts than of actual professional skill. There have been enough victories and defeats to treat this calmly and philosophically. The court has the right to disagree with me (whether in my role as respondent or as claimant), while I in turn have the right to not agree with the court and to appeal the ruling. Thats fine. Life goes on. The universe has not caved in. Especially since we had no illusions as to our chances of achieving a legal blitzkrieg considering the lack of precedents, and who the actual respondents were (according to information from a private source within the Ministry of Justice, up till now there have only been two cases when the President of Ukraine lost a case in the courts, and in both cases the happy, Lord help us, defender of his rights was, presumably by a rare coincidence the ex-Prosecutor General Sviatoslav Piskun).
What is depressingly symptomatic is something else. Despite regular information being provided about how the case was proceeding in the Internet and at press conferences, as well as personal appeals to journalist acquaintances, generally recognized for their integrity and level of professionalism, the number of these fearless warriors of the pen, camera and microphone who came to the court hearings was zero. Zero point not one of them. Thanks, colleagues. There are two possible explanations for such behaviour, neither giving cause for optimism. The first is that these media folk dont, excuse me, give a toss about the very issue of a flagrant, even it would seem with a certain perverted self-satisfaction, violation by the legislators of the Main Law (the Constitution) and the principle of equality of all citizens. The second is that from the very outset they didnt for a minute believe in the possibility that two foolhardy (if not cracked) citizens would win in a legal confrontation with her Dissipated Majestys Regime. Because they didnt believe. Because they had grounds for this. Because they have experience. Empirica ordinaris.
And another thing. Probably everybody has heard, especially in this pre-election time which irritates and stimulates sensitive Deputy receptors with its rustling of political campaigning material, voting papers, dreams of continuing over the next years hearing the scraping, so dear to the heart, of cushy Deputy chairs, and therefore, of other rustling in hands overworked through pushing buttons. – everyone then will have heard whether from individual very much peoples elected representatives, or from great and small Deputy choirs songs about the pernicious nature of immunity. Majestic oratorios about the need to abolish it. Self-glorifying odes on the theme of their own heroic (and legally meaningless) “renunciation of immunity”. What forced them to push their buttons during the vote on the crazy law on 08.09.05? What is stopping them from submitting the appropriate petition to the Constitutional Court? What is in the way of their inundating the courts with their own civil suits, analogous to ours (but much more professional, since they are legislators after all)? What prevented them from demanding that law enforcement bodies when deciding whether to bring charges against “local” lesser brothers in the Deputy fraternity be governed by the Constitution, and not by a pitiful law which is in direct contravention of the Constitution (http://maidanua.org/static/mai/1129968005.html)? What prevented them finally, or at very least one peoples representative, or politician so absolutely concerned in words about the “immunity” issue, to simply turn up in the courtroom? Perhaps, though its unlikely, each person has their own individual answer. There is however a general cause – political rot and political life bad to the core. If politics is the ability to make deals with interested parties, with local Deputies, with frightened criminal elements looking for immunity; if politics is an absorbing game, hobby, style of life or a source of income, and not everyday responsible, then perhaps theyre getting us wrong? As the year before last citizens Kuchma and Yanukovych underestimated us? Perhaps quite simply It is time [Pora]© , It is worth © and It is necessary © to learn to demonstrate integrity towards ourselves, to society and to the State, and in every (every!) case where the law is broken by the State, officials or politicians, to ourselves do everything in our power to bring them to answer? To shed the illusion that someone may change something instead of us doing it. And then, and only then, the State and politicians will in turn lose their illusions about us, based on a sense that they are an all-powerful “elite (I apologize to the readership for such a dirty word), and that we accordingly … are not the elite.
I am incredibly grateful to the two young revolutionary-minded girls – Katya and Nadya who, in temperatures of minus twenty five came along to the Pechersk District Court to support us. And I will even contra spem spero [hope against hope] bring this unyielding matter to its conclusion, at whatever level, Ukrainian or European, this end will come, if only to support their belief that one can uphold the truth and win – both on Maidan, and before Lady Justice.
Youre laughing too soon in your immunity …..
From Maidan: http://maidan.org.ua/static/mai/1139394453.html
 In these short sentences the author repeats the main slogan used by Viktor Yanukovych whose rigged election “victory” was overturned during the Orange Revolution – tomu shcho [because]. (translators note)
Freedom of expression
In Sumy a newspaper has been closed. Is the closure of media outlets during the elections becoming a tradition?
On 17 February in the city of Sumy, the Sumy Region Appeal Court ruled to suspend the issue of the newspaper “Hromadyany Ukrainy” [“Citizens of Ukraine”] until after the elections, having thus refused to overturn the ruling of the Zarichny Court issued on 13 February.
The Editor of “Hromadyany Ukrainy”, Yury Matsko, asserts that the newspaper has been temporarily closed “for a flagrant violation of the Law on the elections”, since the Law prohibits pre-election campaigning for parties by media outlets not affiliated to a party.
It should be noted that the founder of the newspaper - the head of the regional organization of the Christian Republican Party, Oleksandr Sakhno, agrees that the newspaper was guilty of an infringement of the law on the elections. In one of the issues of “Hromadyany Ukrainy”, in order to collect signatures to support the first five candidates from the candidate list for the local council and mayors office from the Christian Republican Party, their names were published, together with an appeal to support them at the elections. However Oleksandr Sakhno considers that the Constitution of Ukraine gives him the right to “express his views with the help of the mass media”.
Lawyers from the Institute of Mass Information have looked into the situation in Sumy on 22 February, and have stated that the material with the call to support a certain political faction was indeed given in the newspaper on the condition that this was not paid for from the election funds of the given party. Moreover, at the time of publication of the material relating to the candidate list and program, the party itself was not registered as a participant in the electoral process.
The claim against the Sumy newspaper was lodged with the court by a representative of the Socialist Party, Serhiy, on behalf of the Mayor Serhiy Klochko. However, the specialists from the Institute of Mass Information note that the newspaper has frequently criticized this state official, and therefore some politicians see the closure of the newspaper has being a means of “getting even with political opponents”.
After the elections, representatives from the Christian Republican Party (CRP) plan to approach the Constitutional Court for their opinion on this issue.
At the present time, the newspaper is not coming out in printed form. However, on behalf of the CRP, information is being distributed in the same format as that of the newspaper. The effective publishers are calling these leaflets.
We would remind the reader that quite recently in the Crimea, a court, on the basis of a claim lodged by in particular, the local “Party of the Regions”, ruled to suspend until after the elections the activities of the television and radio broadcasting company “Chornomorska”.
The Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) takes responsibility for the recent deportation of refugees
The Press Officer of the SSU, Marina Ostapenko, alleged on Channel 5 that “Ukraine was forced to deport 10 Uzbeks to their own county because they belonged to an organization which the UN has declared terrorist – the “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan”.
She went on to say: “These citizens of Uzbekistan belonged to an organization which, according to a resolution of the UN Security Council, has been declared terrorist”.
"While in Ukraine between May and August last year, these citizens of Uzbekistan espoused the radical ideas of this organization among Ukrainian citizens”, Ostapenko added.
However, the deputy Head of the Association of Uzbek political refugees in Ukraine, Khatam Khadzhimatov, asserts that those deported were not involved in politics, but had simply witnessed the events in Andijon which made them unpopular with those in power in Uzbekistan.
On 14 February Ukraine deported 10 citizens of Uzbekistan to their own country which is controlled by an authoritarian regime which systematically persecutes those who oppose this regime.
Last year, the government of Uzbekistan shot dead more than 500 civilians in the city of Andijon.
According to information from the Department of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), nine of those deported had previously registered applications for political asylum with the appropriate bodies in Ukraine, and the two others detained had also spoken of intending to apply for asylum.
The American State Department has condemned the Ukrainian authorities for the forced extradition of the 10 Uzbek refugees. On Tuesday at a briefing in Washington, spokesperson of the US State Department, Adam Erely, stressed that such a step had been taken in contravention of current Ukrainian legislation.
He added: “The Ukrainian authorities also ignored the request of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to not repatriate any asylum seekers before they had gone through the necessary procedure for political asylum applications”.
 It is known that 11 people were detained, however the fate of the eleventh person remains unknown despite repeated efforts to find out by human rights organizations and agencies. (translators note)
NOT FORGOTTEN! More on the Uzbek asylum seekers
It is a depressing fact of our lives that stories, however disturbing, have their “sell-by date”, after which the media considers them as stale as the day before yesterdays bread.
It is depressing for those of us who dont like being manipulated, while highly convenient for politicians, state officials, and others who all too often decide to weather it out, taking no steps whatsoever.
HUMAN LIVES, HOWEVER, ARE NOT LOAVES OF BREAD!
When the risk is high that such silence could lead to still further violations of human rights and to more asylum seekers being sent back to countries where they face terrible danger, any inaction is criminal!
Do not let those responsible for the recent extradition of 10 Uzbek asylum seekers just sit it out, confident that we will forget.
WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO FORGET!
Since the leaders of Ukraine are saying nothing, is it not time for human rights organizations to take the initiative?
They should organize a committee and invite representatives from the UNHCR, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as representatives of the Ukrainian authorities, to investigate the recent deportation and AS SWIFTLY AS POSSIBLE find answers to very specific questions:
How and why did it happen? Who bears direct responsibility for grave violations of Ukrainian legislation and international commitments?
Why does the UNHCR appear to have not taken action when warned of the imminent deportation?
Were human rights and other civic organizations aware of what was happening, and if so, what actions did they take?
And most importantly:
WHAT IMMEDIATE STEPS ARE NEEDED TO:
Ensure the safety of Uzbek, or any other, asylum seekers in Ukraine?
Create an emergency network of civic organizations so that information can be passed to Ukrainian and international organizations swiftly enough for measures to be taken?
On 28 February the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union plans to send the Appeal from human rights organizations to the government. The appeal has had no response from those to whom it is addressed, but has, however, been signed with comments by the huge number of Ukrainians who are appalled and ashamed by the injustice which has been perpetrated.
I believe this would be an appropriate moment for human rights organizations to take on the responsibility the government is shirking, and to make a joint statement announcing the creation of such an enquiry.
PRESS RELEASE from the Society of Uzbek Political Refugees in Ukraine
On the night of 14 February a group of 10 Uzbek citizens were deported from Ukraine to Uzbekistan followingf a request for extradition from the Uzbek authorities. Since 11 people were arrested, the fate of one person remains unknown as the information suggesting that he had relatives in Ukraine was not accurate. 9 of the 11 people detained had registered with the UN High Commission for Refugees as having applied for political asylum. The other two were also planning to officially apply, but were not given the chance.
International organizations have strongly condemned the decision of the Ukrainian authorities to deport the refugees from Uzbekistan.
“The forced return of the refugees constitutes a serious violation of the principle of non-repatriation which Ukraine committed itself to in particular by signing the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees of 1951, in the UN Convention against Torture of 1984”,
The President of OSCE expressed regret that the Ukrainian authorities were not keeping the commitments they had made to the UN Commissioner for Human Rights. De Gucht called on Ukraine to look into the situation as a matter of urgency and provide information about the fate of the 11 Uzbek refugees.
“Ukraine had a duty to protect these people and instead it sent them back to almost certain torture and abuse,” said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Now the government needs to find out how it could have happened that asylum seekers registered with UNHCR were deported. And it must take steps to ensure that it never happens again.”
Six people were detained in Nizhnegorsk (the Crimea) on 7 February, while on the same time a futher 5 people were detained Belogorsk (also in the Crimea). They were held in custody in Simferopol until their deportation.
According to information from the UNHCR, the Uzbek extradition request claimed that the detained had been involved in the Andijon events of 13 May 2006 when government forces killed hundreds of civilians. Tashkent has on many occasions called for the extradition of people whom the regime accuses of involvement in the events in Andijon from other states, including Kyrgystan and Russia.
As a signatory to the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees of 1951 and its Protocol from 1966 Ukraine 1951 was obliged to refuse to return people who might face repression in their home country.
The European Convention on Human Rights, which is also legally binding for Ukraine, categorically prohibits the extradition of people regardless of the charges against them or the gravity of a crime to countries where they could face torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Ukraine is subject to an analogous prohibition in the UN Convention against Torture. In 2003, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Theo Van Boven,, spoke of the “systematic” nature of this practice in Uzbekistan.
In view of the grounds on which Uzbekistan, as far as we can ascertain, requested the extradition of these people, and also bearing in mind the situation as far as human rights are concerned in that country, the deportation was manifestly in contravention of Ukraines international legal commitments regardless of whether the people deported were recognized as refugees in accordance with the 1951 Convention.
We are also concerned by the fact that those detained were denied fundamental procedural rights envisaged by Ukraines international legal commitments. On 14 February the Kyivsky District Court in Simferopol passed a decision on extradition on the basis of the fact that the local immigration office had refused to recognized them as refugees. According to information from the Russian human rights group “Memorial” and the “Civic Assistance” Committee, those detained were not given a real opportunity to appeal the deportation ruling. The Ukrainian immigration authorities stated that the people detained had turned down their right to an appeal. Against the background of the haste and concealment of the public of this procedure, any rejection of the right to appeal can hardly have been voluntary.
In the UNHCR statement it is mentioned that the Commissions representatives had asked for access to the people detained while they were being held in custody.
Ukraine carried out this deportation without observing procedural norms. The authorities of the country did not only return the applications for political asylum without thorough consideration, but also deported them. The hasty decision to deport these ten people, despite the attempts of the UNHCR to involve itself in the issue, convinces us that the Ukrainian authorities flagrantly violated both basic procedural norms and the fundamental prohibition of returning people to where their life may be in danger.
There are many citizens of Uzbekistan in Ukraine who fled persecution in their own country, however the actions of the Ukrainian authorities do not give them confidence that they can enjoy their legitimate right to refuge.
Several dozen Uzbek citizens, persecuted by the Uzbek authorities for free thinking, have approached the Society of Uzbek Political Refugees in Ukraine. They had wished to apply for refugee status but are now frightened to do so.
The Society of Uzbek Political Refugees in Ukraine (SUPRU) had on several former occasions spoken of the systematic violation of human rights in Ukraine.
In December 2005 the SUPRU, in an attempt to draw public attention to the problems of Uzbek immigrants and the potential threat they faced of deportation, held a picket of the UNHCR in Kyiv and published a statement about the violation of refugee rights in Ukraine.
On 6 February 2006, a day before the detentions in the Crimea, the SUPRU circulated an appeal directed to the President of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada, the Cabinet of Ministers and the UNHCR in Kyiv trying to alert them to the problems faced by Uzbek political refugees and the imminent danger. There was, however, no reaction, and as though in mockery of us, on the next day 11 Uzbeks were detained in the Crimea.
On 13 February 2006 the leaders of the SUPRU warned the UNHCR management about the possible deportation of the 11 Uzbeks detained and asked it to take urgent measures to protect them form extradition. However the UNHCR took no decisive measures.
On 17 February the SUPRU called on the UNHCR to create an international commission to investigate the deportation of the 11 Uzbeks. The management of the UNHCR stated that while they could take part in the work of this commission, they could not themselves initiate the creation of such a commission.
The government of Ukraine has still not reacted to the deportation of the Uzbeks and has not provided any explanations.
Ukrainian laws have been violated.
Ukraines commitments under international conventions have been violated.
The silence of Ukraines government may be interpreted as disregard for democratic principles. Today, when Ukraine is aspiring to integration into the European Union, a community of democratic nations, the violation and non-compliance with international legal commitments will hardly help to create an image of Ukraine as a law-based state and could cast it back into the ranks of non-democratic countries.
The Head of the Association of Uzbek Political Refugees in Ukraine
Dadazhonov, I. M.
Tel: +380953947091, [email protected]
Deputy Head of the AUPRU
Khadzhymatov, Kh. R.
Tel: +380963882158, [email protected]
PUBLIC STATEMENT FROM UKRAINIAN CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS ON THE EXTRADITION OF UZBEK ASYLUM SEEKERS
As representatives of Ukrainian civic organizations, we wish to express our vehement protest and outrage over the shameful actions of the Ukrainian regime which have led to Ukraines handing over to Uzbekistan at least 10 people who had applied for political asylum in Ukraine.
According to information provided by the Department of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, between 14 and 15 February 2006 10 citizens of Uzbekistan were forcibly returned from Ukraine to Uzbekistan. They had come to Ukraine fleeing persecution on political grounds in Uzbekistan. They had applied to the Ukrainian authorities for political asylum.
In accordance with provisions of Ukrainian legislation and the UN “Convention relating to the Status of Refugees” of 1951, they were under the protection of international law.
The extradition of the asylum seekers to Uzbekistan was a demonstration of flagrant disregard for international standards of the protection of refugees. The asylum seekers were deprived of legal assistance, access to employees of the UNHCR, and to any procedure in keeping with the standards of a just legal system. Such actions by the authorities testify to a cynical lack of respect for fundamental human rights, international commitments and also national law.
The government of the country which our regime handed those people over to has gained notoriety throughout the world through its use of concentration camps, the large number of political prisoners against whom the state applies torture, extra-judicial executions and the death penalty. The government of Uzbekistan is also know for its practice of brutally crushing any manifestations of free thinking, freedom of expression, freedom of religion and freedom of peaceful assemblies. The haste with which the Ukrainian authorities handed the refugees over to the Republic of Uzbekistan is not only a demonstration of political double standards in the field of human rights, but also shows the lack of humanity and simple sound judgement in taking decisions about peoples lives.
The way in which the authorities behaved denigrates Ukraine to the level of countries for whose governments the value of human life is an empty phrase. Moreover, the information we presently have suggests that the extradition of the Uzbek asylum seekers was a planned special operation by the Security Service of Ukraine, the State Committee for National Minorities and Immigration of Ukraine, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and some other state executive bodies.
We consider that the direct responsibility for this flagrant violation of human rights lies with the heads of the state bodies named. However the responsibility also lies with the President of Ukraine who did not fulfil his constitutional duty to guarantee the observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In view of this appalling violation by Ukraine of the fundamental principles of humanity, taking into account the exceptional damage caused Ukraines international reputation and the authority of the Council of Europe to which Ukraine is a signatory, we demand:
1. that the President of Ukraine immediately acknowledges that Ukraine has violated the UN “Convention relating to the Status of Refugees” of 1951, the 1984 UN “Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms from 1950, and that on behalf of the Ukrainian people he apologises to those who have suffered as a result.
2. that the President of Ukraine immediately passes a resolution dismissing the Head of the Security Service of Ukraine.
3. that the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passes a resolution dismissing the Head of the State Committee for National Minorities and Immigration of Ukraine, and without delay creates a Special Investigative Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to examine the reasons and the consequences of Ukraines violation of international human rights standards during the preparation, the passing of a court judgment and implementation of the extradition order on the citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan in February 2006.
4. that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine take measures to ensure the presence of observers from Ukraine diplomatic institutions during any possible court trials of the citizens of Uzbekistan extraditing from Ukraine. That it prepares and publishes a report on the compliance by the Uzbek authorities of international standards of just court proceedings during the court consideration of the cases of those individuals extradited by Ukraine.
We turn also to the Council of Europe with a request to send a special commission to Ukraine to examine the situation as regards the Ukraines observance of the human rights of those foreign nationals in relation to whom decisions regarding extradition to countries which are not members of the Council of Europe are implemented.
In our opinion, the Council of Europe, the European Union, the UNHCR, and other inter-state and inter-governmental organizations should immediately suspend any technical cooperation and provision of technical assistance to any Ukrainian state bodies or institutions in the field of development of the state border of Ukraine, countering illegal immigration, technical support for law enforcement bodies and state border control bodies of Ukraine until the publication of the results of an investigation into the circumstances around the extradition of asylum seekers from Ukraine to the countries of their origin in 2006, the bringing to justice of those responsible in the violation of the human rights of these people.
We express our deepest sympathy to the people whose rights were violated as a result of the arbitrary extradition from Ukraine to the Republic of Uzbekistan, and call upon the Government of Uzbekistan to unswervingly comply with the provisions of international conventions on human rights and with Uzbekistans humanitarian commitments as a member of OSCE.
The Charitable Organization “The Chernihiv Womens Human Rights Centre”
The Vinnytsa City Civic Organization “The Vinnytsa Human Rights Group”
Helsinki Initiative - XXI, the city of Chortkiv
The Civic Organization MART, Chernihiv
The Civic Committee for the Protection of Constitutional Rights and Civil Liberties (Luhansk)
The Izyumsky Charitable Foundation “Our Future”
The Institute “Respublica”
The Luhansk Branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine
Amnesty International in Ukraine
The Odessa Human Rights Group “Veritas”
The Podilsky Centre for Human Rights, Vinnytsa
The Sumy City Civic Association “The Sumy Committee for the Protection of Human Rights”
The Sumy Branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine
The Ukrainian Environmental Association “Zeleny svit” [“Green world”]
The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
The Kherson City Association of Journalists “South”
The Kherson regional organization of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine
The Kherson Regional Charity and Health Foundation
The Chernihiv Regional Civic Organization “Human Rights”
The Chernihiv Civic Committee for the Protection of Human Rights
Open Appeal from Russian NGOs to the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko
Your Honour, Viktor Andriyovych!
As representatives of Russian NGOs, we turn to you, the President of independent Ukraine, a country which asserts its commitment to the principles of democracy and aspires to become a full member of the European community.
In view of this, we assume that the principles of international law and the observance of international agreements is an unconditional priority in the policy of todays Ukraine.
The events of 14 February this year filled us with both stunned bemusement and serious concern.
We have in the mind the decision taken and immediately implemented to deport 10 citizens of Uzbekistan, detained in the Crimea on 7 February (as reported by the Ukrainian mass media, quoting the State Committee for National Minorities and Immigration of Ukraine - “as part of the struggle against illegal immigration”).
According to our information, confirmed by the representative office of the UNHCR in Kyiv, 9 of the 11 people detained were seeking asylum in Ukraine. At the beginning of February they had submitted applications to the Ukrainian Migration Service asking for political refugee status. They also approached the UNHCR asking to be recognized as in need of international protection given the impossibility of their returning to Uzbekistan where they faced persecution from the authorities. The other two at the moment of their apprehension were heading to Kyiv in order to submit the same applications.
Nonetheless, the Kyivsky District Court in Simferopol took the decision to remove them from the territory of Ukraine which is a flagrant violation of the UN “Convention relating to the Status of Refugees” of 1951 which Ukraine became a signatory to in 2002, and of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms” which prohibits the forced return to a country where torture is used and where the death penalty has not been abolished. Even the opportunity to appeal the said court ruling was not provided these people who fate since, and possibly, life have been placed at serious risk.
The dictatorial regime established in Uzbekistan, especially since the events of 12 – 13 May 2005 in Andijon has gained notoriety throughout the entire world. The lack of an independent justice system in that country, the mass-scale use of torture and extrajudicial executions have been acknowledged by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, and the UN High Commissioner on Refugees, Antonio Guterres. Convincing evidence has been provided in the documents of such authoritative and respected human rights organizations as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
Over the months since the Andijon tragedy, a huge number of statements have been issued about the inadmissibility of returning citizens of Uzbekistan to their country given the risk of political and religious persecution. In her last open appeal to the authorities of Kyrgystan the Director of the Human Rights Watch Section for Europe and Central Asia, Holly Cartner comments that “the promises of the Uzbek authorities to not subject people to torture are not worth the paper theyre written on. In the case of Uzbekistan such diplomatic assurances do not provide reliable guarantees against torture and unacceptable treatment”.
The assertion of the State Committee for National Minorities and Immigration of Ukraine that those citizens of Uzbekistan deported on 14 February were detained only because of an infringement of the rules of stay for foreigners in Ukraine arouse serious doubts. It is contradicted by the communication of the UNHCR, placed on the website “UN News Centre” which states that this occurred “after Ukrainian law enforcement bodies received a request for extradition from their counterparts in Uzbekistan who claim that the people took part in organizing disturbances during the Andijon events of 13 May”.
Reports have already been received suggesting that all 10 people were taken into custody as soon as they reached Tashkent and placed in a pre-trial detention centre.
The Ukrainian authorities bear responsibility for the fate in Uzbekistan of those people deported from the countries as “infringing the rules of stay of foreigners in Ukraine”.
Until now we considered that citizens of Uzbekistan for whom being in our country was fraught with the danger of extradition or illegal deportation due to the close cooperation of the Russian and Uzbek security services could find temporary refuge in Ukraine. Unfortunately our hopes have been proven mistaken.
Today in Ukraine a large number of political refugees from Uzbekistan are waiting for the UNHCR tp resettle them in another country able and willing to offer them protection. For many of them their forced emigration began with their arrival in Moscow and their appeal for help from human rights organizations who know them personally and who are convinced in the well-founded nature of their fears regarding persecution in their own country.
We appeal to you, Mr President, to make the appropriate assessment of the activities of the law enforcement bodies of Ukraine who carried out the illegal deportation of 10 citizens of Uzbekistan on 14 February. We would express our hope that not one of those refugees and asylum seekers in your country will in future be forcibly returned to the country they have fled from. We would like to believe that Ukraine, our nearest neighbour and a country in which many of us have relatives and friends, will overcome this current difficult period in its development and will not permit violations of international legal norms in the future.
Svetlana Gannushkina, chairperson of the Civic Assistance Committee
Sergei Kovalyov, Chairperson of the Russian historical and educational, human rights and charitable society “Memorial”
Lyudmila Alekseeva, Moscow Helsinki Group
Oleg Orlov, Chairperson of the Council of the Human Rights Centre “Memorial”
Tatyana Kasatkina, Executive Director of the Human Rights Centre “Memorial”
Lidiya Grafova, Chairperson of the Forum of organizations for resettled people
Yury Samodurov, Director of the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Centre
Lev Ponomaryov, Executive Director of the Nationwide movement “For Human Rights”
Valentin Hefter, Executive Director of the Human Rights Institute
Vitaly Ponomaryov, Director of the Central Asian Program of the Human Rights Centre “Memorial”
Yelena Ryabinina, the Civic Assistance Committee
Andrei Blinushov, Editor of the Internet website “Human Rights in Russia” (HRO.org)
Mikaiil G. Arutyunov, President of the International Human Rights Assembly
Vladimir Shaklein, the Ural Inter-regional Centre for Human Rights
L.Y. Rybina, Tambov Human Rights Centre
Oksana Chelysheva, Editor of the Russian-Chechen Information Agency, Nizhny Novgorod
Irina Zolotarevskaq, Ирина Золотаревская, the Human Rights Centre “Memorial”, Moscow
Sergei Sabano, the Institute of Social Issues “A Single Europe”, the Youth Human Rights movement
Uzbek Political Émigrés
Valery Petrenko, Editor of the website “Free Uzbekistan”, Belgium
Nadezhda Ataeva, Editor of the newspaper “Central Asia”, Paris
Vladimir Masyutin, Chief Editor of the newspaper “Slavyansky bazaar”, Paris
Farmon Khamroyev, member of the National Democratic Party “Byrlyk”, Canada
Nagi Dauletariyev, the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan “Epgulik”
Bokhodir Choriyev, leader of the movement “Byrdamlyk”, USA
Uzbek human rights activists
Lutfullo Shamsuddinov, former president of the Andijon section of NOPCU
Tamara Chikunova, NNO “Mothers against the death penalty and torture”, Uzbekistan
Yadgor Norbutayev, Uzbekistan
PRESS CONFERENCE IN KYIV ON THE DEPORTATION OF UZBEK ASYLUM SEEKERS
On 21 February 2006 at 15.00 in UNIAN (Kyiv, Khreschatyk, 4) human rights organizations – the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union and Amnesty International in Ukraine will hold a press conference on the recent violation by Ukraine of fundamental norms of international law in its illegal extradition of 10 asylum seekers to the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Participants in the press conference:
Dmytro Groisman – UHHRU, coordinator of the Vinnytsa Human Rights Group
Nataliya Dulneva – Head of Amnesty International in Ukraine
The Regional Representative of the UNHCR in Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova will also take part in the press conference.
During the press conference a joint statement from human rights organizations with demands to the President of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, international and intergovernmental organizations will be made in connection with the violation by Ukraine of international human rights norms.
Organizers of the Press Conference
The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (Dmytro Groisman 8 067 284-64-50)
Amnesty International in Ukraine (Antonina Taranovska 8 044 469-70-27,
A Cover-up now will be a second betrayal: an open letter regarding the deportation of Uzbek asylum seekers
To the President of Ukraine, V.A. Yushchenko; the Minister of Justice, S.P. Holovaty; the Head of the Security Service of Ukraine. I.V. Drizhchany; and the Minister of Internal Affairs, Y.V. Lutsenko
18 February 2006
On 14 February 2006, 10 Uzbek nationals, 9 of whom had sought political asylum in Ukraine, were deported and handed over to the Uzbek authorities. There are serious grounds for fearing for their safety in Uzbekistan.
This operation, carried out by the Security Service of Ukraine in the Crimea, was in contravention of both Ukrainian and international legislation, and is a grave violation of the rights of political refugees.
Those detained had applied for political asylum only 7 days before their application was turned down. This period of time is manifestly insufficient to ensure a fair review of an asylum appeal. They were then deported on the very same day that their applications were turned down, in breach of Ukrainian law, requiring that they be given seven days to appeal the decision.
They had also sought international protection from the UNHCR and believed strongly that they would be in danger if forced to return to their country. This is a flagrant violation of all norms regarding the treatment of asylum seekers, in particular the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The operation has been condemned by the UNHCR, OSCE, as well as by Ukrainian and international human rights organizations.
These were people in fear of their life who turned to the Ukrainian authorities for help. Their trust in Ukrainian justice has been betrayed.
I call upon you to:
- immediately take steps to investigate the situation and to bring those responsible for such a criminal betrayal of trust and violation of both domestic and international law to answer.
- provide full guarantees that refugees rights will be respected and that no person seeking refuge in Ukraine will ever again be returned to a country where they have well-founded reasons to fear for their safety.
Daughter of refugees who were not turned away
Uzbeks seek protection
17 February 2006 In Kyiv at 10.00 this morning, at 22 Dashevska Street, Uzbek political refugees in Ukraine began an indefinite protest action. It was prompted by the forced deportation of 10 citizens of Uzbekistan seeking political asylum.
The fate of one of the asylum seekers remains shrouded in secrecy. On 7 February 2006 11 people were detained and it is not clear where they were taken, whereas on 14 February the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) stated that 10 people had been deported.
Uzbek political refugees have on many occasions spoken about the danger imminent. In particular, on 6 February 2006, the day before the people were detained in the Crimea, an appeal was addressed to President Yushchenko, the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) and the government in an attempt to draw their attention to the problem of Uzbek political refugees and the imminent danger. However they received no response, and as if in mockery, on the very next day the 11 Uzbeks were detained in the Crimea.
On 13 February 2006 the leaders of the Uzbek political refugees warned the headquarters of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees about the possible deportation and extradition of the 11 detained Uzbeks. However in this case too the UNHCR did not take any measures to avert the tragedy.
9 of the 11 Uzbeks had applied to the UNHCR for international protection against the regime of Uzbekistan. They had special documents confirming that they had applied to an international organization defending the rights of refugees. These documents should have provided protection from the persecution of the authorities. They had also sought help from the Ukrainian authorities by asking for political asylum to escape the repressions of Karimovs regime. And yet the very regime whom they approached for help handed them over to the hands of the executioner Karimov.
This is not the first such attempt to seek revenge on Uzbek members of the opposition in Ukraine as political refugees. In 2001 4 political refugees were deported and have been in prison in Uzbekistan ever since. In August 2005 18 Uzbek political refugees – members of the Byrlyk party – were deported.
It has become clear that Ukraine is not only not in a position to provide social and other assistance to Uzbek refugees, but is placing their safety in jeopardy.
The Ukrainian authorities have today adopted a course towards rapprochement with the Karimov regime. Uzbek members of the opposition are suffering from surveillance and persecution. They have their passports taken away, are fined and prepared for new deportations.
In these cold days of the “Orange Revolution” Uzbek members of the opposition not only followed the events unfolding, but side by side with the people of Ukraine defended the ideals of Maidan. It is depressing that yesterdays leaders of the opposition on Maidan, those who fought for democracy and upheld the ideas of the Orange Revolution, and gained support from the entire democratic world community, are now in power and are not merely failing to support political refugees, democrats, fighting for human rights and liberty, in opposition in Uzbekistan, but are handing them over to their persecutors. . All of this is being done for the sake of economic benefits from cooperation with Uzbekistan which is acknowledged throughout the world to not be a democratic state, while Karimov himself is known to be the tyrant and executioner of his people.
In view of the above,
- we demand that an international commission be created with the participation of recognized international human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Helsinki Human Rights Group, “Memorial”, as well as representatives of the Society of Uzbek Political Refugees in Ukraine, in order to investigate the forced deportation of people who had applied for protection from the UNHCR.
- The Representation of the UNHCR should take steps to ensure the resettlement of Uzbek political refugees to a third country as soon as possible.
Head of the Association of Uzbek Political Refugees in Ukraine
Tel: +380953947091, [email protected]
Khadzhimatov, Kh. Y.
Тел.+380963882158, [email protected]
Ukraine has illegally deported 10 Uzbek refugees
Memorial Human Rights Centre 103051 Russia, Moscow, Maly Karetny per., 12 .(095)-200-65-06
Civic Assistance Committee 127006 Russia, Moscow, ul. Dolgorukovskaya, 33, str. 6, т.(095)-973-54-74
10 of the 11 Uzbek refugees detained on 7 February 2006 in the Crimea were, on the evening of 14 February, deported to Uzbekistan on the flight “Tashkent – Simferopol”. Human rights organizations consider the deportation to be illegal and in contravention of Ukraines international obligations, in particular, the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
The first information about the detention in the Crimea of 11 Uzbek émigrés was made public by the Memorial Human Rights Centre on 13 February 2006.
On 15 February the Press Centre of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) informed the agency “Interfax” that the detentions had been carried out as part of a joint operation of the SSU and Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine “as part of the struggle against illegal immigration”. “In connection with the fact that these individuals were illegally staying on Ukrainian territory, on 14 February the Kyivsky District Court in Simferopol ruled to have them deported".
On 16 February the Ukrainian newspaper “Syohodni” [“Today”] published an article in which the Head of the State Committee on National Minorities and Immigration (SCNMI), Serhiy Rudyk was quoted as saying that 9 out of the 10 deported citizens of Uzbekistan had, between 1 and 6 February, applied for political asylum. On 13 February their applications were all turned down in the department of the SCNMI of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea.
In the opinion of “Memorial” and the “Civic Assistance” Committee, the forced deportation of 10 citizens of Uzbekistan immediately after the decision of the court is a flagrant violation of the rights of asylum seekers. Effectively all those deported were denied their right to appeal the ruling. Moreover, it is clear from the extremely swift review of the applications of refugees from Uzbekistan carried out by the Crimean department of the SCNMI that no serious investigation into the claims of the applicants can have been undertaken.
The Ukrainian authorities claim that all 10 Uzbeks deported “declined in writing to appeal against the decision to refuse them refugee status”. All of this forces the obvious analogy with last years incident in South Kyrgystan where 4 Andijon refugees, held in a pre-trial detention centre, also signed statements supposedly agreeing to “voluntary repatriation” and were handed over to the Uzbek security service. Information was later received that the four had been subjected to torture.
The fate of the 11th Uzbek national detained remains unclear. According to some reports, this person had “a close relative in Ukraine” and was therefore not deported.
Statements from Ukrainian officials avoid answering questions as to whether the Ukrainian authorities received a “request” from Tashkent to detain or deport the said individuals and whether or not Uzbek security service officers were present on Ukrainian territory during the detention of the “immigrants”.
According to “Memorial”s information, 3 of the 11 people detained were witnesses of the events in Andijon in May 2005, although the SSU claims that they are unaware of any involvement by those deported in the “Andijon events”.
The deportation by Ukraine of Uzbek political refugees marks a turning point. Until recently political émigrés from Uzbekistan, fearful of their likely fate in Russia, tried to get to Ukraine and then turn to UN High Commission for Refugees for international protection. They assumed in this that the commitment declared by the new regime to democracy and human rights were sufficient guarantee that political refugees would not be handed over to the Uzbek dictator. Now those illusions have been crushed.
Ukrainian Security Service sends Uzbeks home
According to the newspaper “Sevodnya” [“Today”], Ukraine could be plunged into an international scandal as a result of the deportation on 14 February of 10 citizens of Uzbekistan. According to some reports they are accused by the Uzbek regime of having taken part in the so-called “Andijon Uprising (in May 2005), while the official version from the Ukrainian authorities is that those deported were illegal migrants,
At first the security service (SSU) was not particularly forthcoming about the operation however relatives and friends of the deported Uzbeks turned to the Ukrainian representation of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and the mass media became aware of the mass detention of Uzbek citizens. An official reaction followed, with the SSU Press Centre tersely notifying “Interfax”. “During measures carried out as part of the struggle against illegal immigration, on 7 February the Security Service of Ukraine, in a joint operation with bodies of the Ministry of Internal Affairs detained 10 citizens of Uzbekistan. In connection with the fact that these individuals were illegally staying on Ukrainian territory, on 14 February the Kyivsky District Court in Simferopol ruled to have them deported".
According to the Head of the State Committee on National Minorities and Immigration (SCNMI), Serhiy Rudyk, 9 of the 10 deported citizens of Uzbekistan had, between 1 and 6 February, applied for political asylum. On 13 February their applications were all turned down in the department of the SCNMI of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea. However, Rudyk says that he heard about the deportation of these citizens from the newspaper “Sevodnya”. Serhiy Rudyk concedes that in this case the SSU broke the law of Ukraine which gives citizens of other countries 7 days in which to appeal a court ruling on deportation (whereas they were deported on the very day of the courts decision).
At the same time human rights activists are unanimous in asserting that this detention was nothing more than a special operation. “According to our information these people were detained at the request of the Uzbek authorities. They apparently claim that these people were involved in the “Andijon case”, “Sevodnya” was told by Olena Ryabina, head of the program “Help for political refugees from Central Asia” of the international “Civic Assistance” Committee. The chairperson of the independent human rights society of Uzbekistan, Surat Ikramov, stated that the security services were agreeing among themselves and for a certain fee were deporting people in opposition to the regime of the Uzbek President Islam Karimov. “At home they can expect torture, abuse and the fabrication of criminal charges which will result in years in prison”.
When asked by “Syohodni” whether the deportation of the Uzbeks had been the result of a “request” from Tashkent, the Press Secretary of the SSU, Maryna Ostapenko, beginning to shout, declared that all questions would only be answered in written form and that she would not say more than she had already said to “Interfax”.