About the KHPG
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) is one of the oldest Ukrainian human rights organizations; it traces its origins back to the Soviet-era dissident movement of the 1970s-1980s. From 1988 onwards, the KHPG was known as the Kharkiv branch of Memorial human rights and historical organization.
The mission of the KHPG, on the one hand, is to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms from infringement by the State and, on the other, to assist the State in asserting and protecting these rights and freedoms.
Our organisation’s title refers to ‘Kharkiv’ but the KHPG is active everywhere in Ukraine.
KHPG was established as a legal entity on 10 November 1992.
What we do
- Free legal aid. Over the past thirty years, ten thousand people have approached the KHPG for advice and support. Anyone can contact us for legal advice.
- Upholding civil and human rights in court. KHPG’s full-time and freelance lawyers represent victims of human rights violations in courts.
- Media activities. The KHPG media department employs journalists who write about human rights every day. In addition, KHPG experts analyze draft legislation, actions of State bodies, and systemic problems with human rights; then they write about them on our website in Ukrainian and English. We have the world’s largest collection of texts on human rights in Ukraine in the English language.
- European Court of Human Rights. KHPG has been a pioneer in submitting appeals to the ECHR in Strasburg. Altogether the Group has filed over 650 applications to the Court; it has won more than 150 times and not lost a single case. The Court’s consideration of a case may take up to a dozen years, but ECHR rulings against Ukraine have radically changed judicial practice within the country and helped many whose rights were violated by the State.
- Educational activities. Our training and schools on human rights have helped many people become successful human rights defenders, lawyers and judges, as well as staff of government bodies and members of international organizations.
- Promoting change. KHPG experts propose changes to existing legislation and draft new laws.
- History of the human rights movement. KHPG is the only public organization in Ukraine that has studied the history of the human rights movement in Ukraine for more than 30 years. In particular, about 350 biographies of the movement participants were prepared, and more than 200 interviews with them and their works were published. More information can be found on our websites. museum.khpg.org та library.khpg.org.
Among KHPG’s past achievements: a successful campaign to abolish the death penalty in Ukraine; participation in the creation of the Code of Criminal Procedure (2013); the system of free legal aid; and the Law on “Access to Public Information”. In addition, the KHPG has often paid qualified lawyers in high-profile lawsuits, one of the latest being Viktor Medvedchuk's defamation lawsuit against Vakhtang Kipiani over the book “The Case of Vasyl Stus” (2020)..
We pay special attention to the rights of prisoners — those who, as a rule, no one else can help. With the active participation of KHPG, torture was criminalized in the Criminal Code. In addition, KHPG prepared “shadow” reports for the III, IV, V, VI, VII periodic reports of the State to the UN Committee against Torture. Most of KHPG’s recommendations have been adopted and implemented by the State. In 2003, the KHPG Strategic Litigations Center was established: its lawyers handle an average of 200 cases each year, in both national courts and at the European Court of Human Rights.
Well-known lawyers, Supreme Court judges, Ministry of Justice representatives and members of international and intergovernmental human rights organizations are among former staff and volunteers of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group.
- Humanism and compassion. We intend to protect victims of human rights violations, primarily members of vulnerable groups, assist them, and influence the state and public opinion regarding such assistance.
- Tolerance. We are tolerant of all people: each other, clients, and partners. We are tolerant of all people who belong to socially vulnerable groups and stigmatized communities. We protect people who suffer from the arbitrariness of the state and non-governmental organizations. We expand the understanding of the tolerance concept among individuals who belong to the majority.
- Professionalism. We provide free and quality assistance to victims by protecting their rights and fundamental freedoms at the highest standards in this service sector. We constantly improve our professional level, exchange experiences with colleagues, and organize legal education for young professionals. Compliance with professional ethics is the basis of our work.
- Openness (transparency). We are an open and transparent organization that works for the benefit of Ukrainian society. Our website regularly publishes materials about our activities and the implementation of grants, programs, and projects. Everyone can join the work of the organization.
- Mutual trust. Work in a friendly group of like-minded people with whom you can share your ideas (thoughts). In a team where respect is mutual, there is no meanness and hypocrisy, where everyone is ready to help their neighbor, and where you feel like a member of a large, friendly family. We also maintain respect for our clients and others, tolerance and goodwill, and observance of the code of honor – honesty and attention to colleagues and clients.
- Creative self-organization of employees. We provide the opportunity to generate and bring new ideas to life and to act at your discretion within the limits of the organization's goals. This is the right to choose your way of solving problems that have arisen at work.
- Honesty and fearlessness. We are the oldest human rights organization in Ukraine, and the principles of honesty with others and fearlessness in protecting human rights have helped us to work until now.
Since its foundation the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group has been part of the International Memorial Society
In 2022, the organization was admitted to the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
KHPG is a co-founder of the T4P initiative (Tribunal for Putin)
War in Ukraine
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion in 2022, our office in Kharkiv has suspended work while some employees evacuated to other regions of Ukraine or abroad. However, we quickly resumed our work.
The war radically changed the focus of our effort. Among Ukrainian organizations, we had perhaps the most significant experience documenting war crimes during the war in eastern Ukraine. We have reopened a special database developed in 2017-2018, in which we began to record numerous violations of international humanitarian and international criminal law, starting from 24 February.
In March 2022, KHPG co-founded the T4P initiative, which combines more than two dozen organizations to bring Russia to justice for its crimes. We have developed the initiative's website in seven languages, where live statistics from our database are available. The data collected during the documentation process becomes the basis for filing cases with the International Criminal Court in The Hague and other bodies.
In addition to documenting, we began to raise money from philanthropists from the United States and other countries to help those affected by the war. In 2022, hundreds of people received humanitarian and charitable assistance from us. To help the victims further, we began to attract qualified psychologists.
In the “Voices of War” section we collect our numerous interviews with victims and witnesses of the war. These stories not only record the war crimes committed by the Russian army but also show the human vision of the war, demonstrating the ordeals and personal tragedies that the inhabitants of Mariupol, Kharkiv, and other parts of Ukraine had to endure. These interviews will form the basis of printed collections and films.
The KHPG in numbers
|650+ applications||150+ cases||2,500 complaints|
|Submitted to ECHR||Won at ECHR||Considered by KHPG per year|
|considered in courts per year||visit our websites annually||published and distributed by KHPG publishing house annually|
Questions and Answers
Do you only have lawyers?
A human rights organization is not the same as a law firm, and being a human rights activist does not always mean having a law degree. For example, our media department employs as many people as at a reception or Strategic Litigations Center. We also create websites, work with video, do archiving, and do other work that requires different specialists.
The Memorial won the Nobel Prize. Since KHPG is a part of Memorial, does this mean you also received an award?
That is correct. In 2022, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Center for Civil Liberties, Ales Byalyatsky, and the International Memorial, whose Ukrainian branch is the Kharkiv Human Rights Group. In general, Ukrainians played a significant role in the dissident movement and the creation of the Memorial: up to 40% of the Soviet Union dissidents came from Ukraine. Therefore, we have a Nobel diploma and a commemorative medal of the Memorial.
How much do your services cost?
We have always provided and continue to provide legal assistance free of charge. Often we assist financially through the "Man and Law" foundation. According to our charter, we cannot conduct commercial activities. But our work can be supported financially by making a voluntary contribution.