Who will defend people’s rights in the Dnipropetrovsk region?
A study presented by the Dnipro Social Research Centre reports a deterioration in the human rights situation in the Dnipropetrovsk region. The report and ways to improve the situation were discussed at a roundtable held in Dnipropetrovsk.
The report found that violations of the right to peaceful assembly and of prisoners’ rights had become more frequent, though there had been a reduction in abuses regarding the rights of orphans.
Coordinator of the Dnipro Social Research Centre, Hanna Kolokhina said that the Centre has been monitoring infringements through the years. Some can be called systemic, including violations of labour laws, for example, through failure to pay remuneration on time, as well as orphans’ rights and electoral rights.
She notes that the situation became worse after 2008 when the Dnipropetrovsk City Council introduced new restrictions on peaceful assembly, for example, by banning some mass events in the central part of the city.
“If in 2009 there were three such bans on holding meetings, in 2010 this figure was already seven. This is a dangerous trend, particularly given that such restrictions are not being passed by the City Executive for the first time. In 2005 human rights activists managed to get such a decision revoked, yet it was passed again.”
Head of the regional NGO Human Rights Union: Let’s Help Children, Mykola Kozhushko reports that the rights of homeless children are flagrantly violated. The last high-profile case took place just in the last few days where the authorities tried to send orphans to a Crimean camp without even basic sanitary conditions.
Almost one in 18 orphans in the region is not provided with housing, while the social security bodies, he says, are indifferent.
He points out, for example, that in children’s homes the authorities do not inform the children that they need to get on the waiting list for a flat, yet they should know what rights they have.
Lawyer Volodymyr Prudovsky believes that the biggest victims of human rights abuse in Dnipropetrovsk are people who end up behind bars. Hungry, without the support of human rights organizations, these people suffer physical and psychological pressure, he says.
He adds that even the way that people are brought to the court remains from the Stalin era, that people are crowded into a small area, without windows, in the heat or cold and that people faint. They are often kept there without meals all day. That he stresses, is at the pre-trial stage.
The head of the NGO People’s Control, Halyna Kucherenko sees the key problem in the region as being the restriction of civic organizations to the authorities and law enforcement bodies.
She says that last year most of the organizations that do really function did not get on the Public Council attached to the Regional State Administration. The police also terminated the existence of the Public Council attached to the local Ministry of Internal Affairs Department.
“Our telephone numbers, those of members of the Public Council, were in all district police stations. I was phoned by detainees even at 3 in the morning. We went out even during the night to oversee the situation. It’s a major thing to reinstate these public councils”.
The authors of the report intend to hand information about the human rights situation in the Dnipropetrovsk region to the President’s Administration, the Cabinet of Ministers and the Verkhovna Rada. They are also considering the idea of uniting human rights organizations from the regions at a national level.
Abridged from the report at http://radiosvoboda.org/content/article/24235564.html