Kyiv, December 10, 2014 – «Occupation of Crimea by Russian troops, artificially organized separatist movements in the east which gradually turned into armed aggression and full-scale military conflict with the Russian Federation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions pushed the civil rights to the sidelines» – in this way leading human rights activists Mykola Kozyryev, Chairman of the Board of Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Arkadiy Bushchenko, Executive Officer of Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union and Yevhen Zakharov, Director of Kharkiv Human Rights Group characterized the situation in the human rights sphere in Ukraine. They represented results of the Report on human rights in Ukraine for the year 2014 during their media briefing in Ukrainian Crisis Media Center.
The experts pointed out that certain time is needed after harsh revolutionary changes to transform state and civil systems themselves.
Representatives of Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union mentioned certain negative trends in the human rights sphere in 2014. For instance, neither of needed reforms in the sphere of human rights – judicial, criminal justice, educational etc. – has been implemented thoroughly. Nevertheless, approval of a new law on public prosecution is a positive moment. There are also discrepancies in new laws: the Law “On Purification of the Authorities” is an extremely populist one and some provisions thereof contradict suggestions of the Council of Europe, the practice of the European Court on Human Rights on issues of lustration and the principles of international law. The draft law “On Preventive Detention” on elimination of separatism and special regime of pre-judicial investigation in the ATO area infracts the Constitution of Ukraine and international human rights standards. Despite certain efforts of the state, major problems pertaining social protection of IDPs, servicemen and persons engaged in the ATO have been encountered.
At the same time, human rights activists emphasized considerable progress, in particular, changes made to Criminal Procedural Code which favored openness of penitentiary facilities. The experts stated that, in spite of some mistakes, the state authorities managed to revive the Armed Forces and law-enforcement agencies as well as create and train volunteer militia corps. Simultaneously, the military conflict, inertness of the political system, corruption in state and local agencies and absence of reforms implementation impede development of the country that has not yet managed to step far away from Yanukovych’s oligarchical regime, thus human rights and fundamental freedoms are still exposed to numerous threats.
The human rights activists identify adherence to the rule of law and instant implementation of reform as the primary steps for Ukrainian authorities.
The experts spoke rather critically of conclusions of the international organizations “Amnesty International” and “Human Rights Watch” on the situation with human rights in Ukraine listed in recently published reports of these agencies. In particular, Ukrainian human rights activists qualify charges of use of prohibited weapons (cluster bomb units) by Ukrainian troops as absolutely groundless, as these cases were unproven.
Thorough review of achievements and faults of new Ukrainian authorities in the sphere of human rights will be represented in the Report “Human Rights in Ukraine 2014” which is a universal document used by national and international organizations to evaluate overall situation with human rights in Ukraine. Plenary report of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union research will be made public in January 2015.