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Ukraine’s First City Human Rights Ombudsperson elected

Alla Tiutiunnyk

In Skadovsk in the Kherson region the City Council has just elected the city’s first Human Rights Ombudsperson. They chose the Coordinator of the Centre for Legal Information and Consultation, Ivan Shulha, with 26 voting for him out of the 28 members of the Council present.

There is no legislation in Ukraine envisaging the post of Ombudsperson at local level, however progressive deputies of the Skadovsk City Council back in 2005 managed to get the position set down in the Charter of the Territorial Community. This initiative however was not supported by the former Mayor.

In 2006 the new Mayor, Oleksandr Havrysh and newly elected deputies returned to work on improving the city’s Charter, and back in September 2008 passed it unanimously.

The article about a City Ombudsperson remained mere words for two years. At the beginning of 2010 the International Renaissance Foundation together with the Kherson Regional Charity and Health Foundation created the Skadovsk Centre for Legal Information and Consultation, as part of the initiative “On enhancing the legal opportunities for the poorer groups in society”. In June 2010 at the instruction of the City Council, the Mayor, Oleksandr Havrysh signed a memorandum of cooperation between the Skadovsk City Council, the Renaissance Foundation and the Charity and Health Foundation.  This contained the commitment to establish the position of Skadovsk Human Rights Ombudsperson by January 2011 and take on the financing of the Centre. 

Co-author of the Statute, the Centre’s Coordinator, himself a Council member, Ivan Shulha has carried out a major analytical work, filling in a gap in legislation on local self-government, drawn up draft Regulations on the scope of rights and duties of the future Ombudsperson, the financing of his or her activities, procedure for appointment and dismissal. This draft received the Council’s support.

The draft received a positive assessment by well-known human rights specialists, and on 19 August 2010 the Regulations were passed. From now on each newly elected Council will elect one deputy to monitor human rights and civil liberties in Skadovsk. The Regulations came into force at the beginning of 2011, and on 25 February 2011 Skadovsk became the first city in Ukraine to have its own Human Rights Ombudsperson.

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