Human rights group slams yet another deadweight anti-discrimination bill
On Tuesday parliament passed as basis a draft bill “On the principles for preventing and countering discrimination in Ukraine”. The No Borders Project is sharply critical of both the bill itself and the way it was pushed through, carrying the danger that it will be yet another empty law for appearances with public opinion having been ignored.
The need for anti-discrimination legislation has long been understood, with recommendations from numerous international and nongovernmental organizations.
It was the fact that the recommendations from the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance were included in the EU visa liberalization action plan that prompted the recent activity.
On 24 April 2012 a draft bill was presented for public discussion on the Justice Ministry’s website. The text of the draft bill says openly that the aim in passing it is not to counter discrimination against various groups in Ukraine, but to implement the above-mentioned Action Plan.
The bill was immediately criticized by civic groups, including the Coalition against Discrimination in Ukraine. The criticism concerns: incomplete and flawed definitions of key terms; the failure to include certain widespread forms of discrimination; and the lack of real mechanisms protecting people from unlawful practice.
Despite criticism, and ignoring the procedure for public discussion, on 3 May the Justice Ministry announced that the draft bill had been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers – without taking into account any comments or suggestions submitted by NGOs. This was then registered in the Verkhovna Rada and on 23 May placed on the agenda of the parliamentary profile Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and Inter-Ethnic Relations. Despite the devastating assessment from the Main Scientific Expert Department the vote for this bill was scheduled for 5 June.
The period between when the draft bill was made public and its consideration in the Verkhovna Rada Committee was less than the 30 days recommended for review of draft bills of public importance and which are submitted for public discussion. Not one comment or proposal from NGOs engaged in monitoring and assisting victims of discrimination was taken into account.
No Borders calls the bill an exercise by the Ukrainian government at trying to create a good impression with the EU, while not making any of the changes really needed.
By thus trying to simply assure that a promise is ticked off as having been kept, the government is putting off adoption of a proper law protecting people against discrimination.
No Borders calls on government bodies to stop ignoring the views of NGOs on this bill of public importance and on MPs to reject the draft bill.
It also calls on the EU to take the necessary measures to ensure that the relevant items of the Action Plan are implemented properly.
From the statement