Position of Ukrainian human rights defenders on the EHU project “Lawyers for the Rule of Law. Education and Professional Training”

Position of Ukrainian organizations of the Human Rights Houses Network and Ukrainian lawyers on the European Humanitarian University project “Lawyers for the Rule of Law. Education and Professional Training”

In June 2023, information about the recruitment of lawyers to participate in distance learning for advocats and lawyers within the framework of the European Humanitarian University (EHU) project “Lawyers for the Rule of Law. Education and Professional Training”.

Lawyers from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Moldova are invited to participate in the six-month training,  and the project is implemented by the Center for Constitutionalism and Human Rights of EHU, the “University Without Borders” Project. The organizers also note the partnership with the Belarusian Human Rights House named after Boris Zvozskov and the international partnership ILIA (International Law in Advocacy).

Given that the project involves joint training, in particular, of participants from Ukraine and Russia, the UHHRU and the Educational Human Rights House in Chernihiv sought clarification from the stakeholders before publishing the statement.

The Belarusian Human Rights House named after Boris Zvozskov reported that after receiving the request, it suspended cooperation within the project.

Human Rights House Foundation was not involved in the design or informed about the implementation of the project, and from the information that HRHF have gathered, is that none of the organisations that created and implemented ILIA program for over a decade were involved in the design of this EHU-led project. As a result, reference to “international ILIA partnership” in the call for applicants to be misleading. It is thus former ILIA alumni or experts involved in the EHU project are acting in their individual capacities.

The European Humanities University’s response contained no substantive position on the arguments set forth in the statement below (the full text of the answer at the link – EHU_Letter_from_rector_to_Pavlichenko).

Given that the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union and the Educational Human Rights House in Chernihiv are not only members of the Human Rights Houses Network, but also partners and implementers of the ILIA program and its EHREL educational project in Ukraine, we consider it necessary to state our position on the implementation of the above-mentioned project in the context of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

First, ILIA founding organisations, other Ukrainian non-governmental organizations or professional (lawyers or judges) associations were not involved in the decision to prepare and implement this particular project. At the same time, the project description creates a false impression that well-known Ukrainian organizations and human rights defenders could have been involved in its implementation.

This creates the basis for the participation of Ukrainians in such events to be used by Russian propaganda, as is often done when joint awards, educational, cultural, humanitarian and other events involving Ukrainians and Russian citizens are initiated.

Secondly, the program description demonstrates that it does not take into account the current context – the ongoing armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine.

The project team itself or the organizations implementing it have not expressed their own position on the Russian aggression against Ukraine and its consequences for human rights and the rule of law, which the project declares to train.

Moreover, the organizers chose Russian as the working language of the curriculum, which, in their opinion, “is a unifying language for the participants,” while the use of Russian is one of the means of spreading aggressive narratives and can sometimes even have a traumatic effect on Ukrainian citizens experiencing the aggression of the Russian Federation.

We consider it unacceptable and unethical to introduce any programs for Ukraine, especially with the participation of representatives of the Russian Federation, without taking into account the context of the ongoing armed aggression on the territory of Ukraine and without consulting or partnering with the Ukrainian side (with professional associations, non-governmental organizations and other professional actors), without respecting the Ukrainian identity, the struggle for freedom and democratic values that the Ukrainian people are currently waging, and without designating the role of the Russian Federation as an aggressor state and Belarus as its satellite.

Thirdly, the project declares its focus on developing skills in working with human rights standards, studying communication and self-governance in the legal community, and expanding and strengthening the existing network of lawyers in the Eastern European Partnership region.

At the same time, since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, including from the territory of Belarus, the bar self-government of neither the Russian Federation nor Belarus has expressed its position on numerous international crimes and gross human rights violations that have resulted from the military aggression against Ukraine. Similarly, no support and solidarity was expressed with the Ukrainian legal community, whose representatives, in particular, work daily with numerous victims and survivors of the war, as well as serve in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. There are also lawyers among the fallen Ukrainian soldiers.

On the contrary, at present, the Russian legal community, if not directly involved in hostilities against Ukraine, either assists those fighting against Ukraine by collecting material aid for the Russian military, or actually participates in the persecution of Ukrainian lawyers and human rights defenders in the territories occupied by Russia, or is involved in the colonization of the occupied territories of Ukraine.

Fourth, as already mentioned, the project declares a partnership with the international ILIA program, which was created on the initiative and with the support of the Human Rights House Foundation and individual organizations of the Human Rights House Network. However, as already mentioned above, there is no such partnership of the ILIA program with the project, the founding organizations of ILIA are not involved in the project.

In addition, despite the previous implementation of the ILIA program in Russia until 2022 and dozens of lawyers and representatives of the Russian non-governmental sector who have received such training, the program has not had a positive impact on Russian society and the human rights community.

The team of the project “Lawyers for the Rule of Law. Education and Professional Training” project team not only ignored the previous appeals of Ukrainian ILIA/EHREL alumni from Ukraine and human rights defenders from other countries about the inadmissibility of its implementation in the stated format, but also expressed a clear intention to continue its implementation despite such objections. We believe that such an approach to the implementation of the project against the background of numerous violations of international human rights standards as a result of Russian aggression, instead of creating tools for the restoration and protection of human rights and peace, creates the basis for conflict in the professional and human rights environment.

We believe that the implementation of this project, which aims to train lawyers from Ukraine and Russia, among others, is a manifestation of a lack of understanding of the real situation, respect and empathy for the Ukrainian side, which is experiencing a full-scale aggression of the Russian Federation and its consequences in the form of destroyed settlements, man-made disasters, threats of nuclear weapons, numerous facts of international crimes and gross violations of human rights, hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties.

We call on Ukrainian human rights defenders and other professional lawyers to refrain from participating in this and other projects implemented in the same manner by organizations affiliated with or supporting states that are carrying out aggression against Ukraine.

Oleksandr Pavlichenko, executive director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Serhiy Burov, director of the Educational Human Rights House Chernihiv

Daria Svyrydova, expert of the “Ukraine. 5 AM” Coalition, lawyer, national coordinator of the ILIA/EHREL program in Ukraine in 2012-2016.

Serhiy Zayets, ILIA/EHREL project alumnus (2012-2013), expert of UHHRU human rights educational programs for professional lawyers

Olga Semeniuk, coordinator of the UHHRU educational program for lawyers

Andrii Zubariev, director, Human Rights House “Crimea”

Oksana Muravska, lawyer, ILIA and UHHRU alumnus (2014-2015)

Viktor Reshetov, lawyer, Chernivtsi

Anna Kozmenko, lawyer at the Center for Strategic Affairs of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Andriy Leshchenko, lawyer w, managing partner of Prime Lawyers, alumnus of ILIA and UHHRU projects (2017-2018)

Kateryna Karmazina, lawyer, mediator, Secretary of the Bar Council of Odesa Oblast, PhD, Associate Professor, Associate Professor of the Department of International Law and Branch Legal Disciplines of the Kyiv University of Law of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, ILIA/EHREL and UHHRU alumnus (2013-2023)

Andrii Rybak, lawyer, senior partner at PERFEKTSIA Law Firm, graduate of UHHRU projects (2020-2023)

Eduard Syromiatnykov, lawyer, Dnipro, partner at NOVUM Law Firm, graduate of UHHRU projects in 2017-2019

Kostyantyn Shalota, judge of the Korolevsky District Court of Zhytomyr, alumnus of UHHRU projects in 2017-2019

Valeriy Nechayev, lawyer, deputy of Vynohradiv City Council (Zakarpattia region)

Natalia Zhmaylo, lawyer, Dnipro, alumnus of ILIA/EHREL and UHHRU projects (2014-2020).

Vladyslav Rudenko, lawyer, Kyiv, alumnus of UHHRU projects in 2017-2019

Olga Skrypnyk, chair of the Board of the Crimean Human Rights Group

Tetyana Zhukova, international advocacy manager, Human Rights Centre ZMINA

Yuliia Lisova, Odesa,  lawyer,  legal adviser of Civil Center of Justice, Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union. National expert of Council of Europe. ILIA/EHREL and UHHRU alumnus

Nadiya Volkova, lawyer, director Ukrainian Legal Advisory Group

Alexander Zarutskiy, ILIA/EHREL project alumnus (2012-2013, 2015, 2021-2022), attorney-at-law, legal counselor at NGO “Chairwoman of the Board of the “Council of wives and mothers of defenders of Ukraine “Women of steel”

Andriy Kotlyar, Lawyer, Kyiv, UHHRU project alumnus 

Dmytro Hladkyi, lawyer, Zaporizhzhia, member of Zaporizhzhia City Council

Nataliia Okhotnikova, Human Rights Adviser, Human rights centre ZMINA, ILIA and UHHRU project alumnus 

Tetiana Veremii, lawyer, managing partner of VEREMIY LF

Valerii Rykov, lawyer, Zaporizhzhia

Pavlo Demchuk, lawyer, Kyiv

Olena Pomazanovska, lawyer, Ivano-Frankivsk

Elvira Lazarenko, lawyer, Kyiv,  alumnus of the UHHRU projects  (2022-2023)

Oleksandr Shadrin, lawyer, Irpin, graduate of the ILIA/EHREL and UHHRU programs

Olesia Monko, lawyer, Kyiv

Olena Myroshnykova, judge, Lubenskyi City-Raion Court of Poltava Oblast, UHHRU courses graduate

Volodymyr Pavlov, judge of the Novozavodsk District Court of the city of Chernihiv, graduate of the UHHRU projects (2017-2019)

Kostyantyn Kharakoz, judge of the Economic Court of Donetsk region, participant in educational projects of the UHHRU

Oleksii Omelian, Economy court of Zhitomir region, UHHRU project alumnus

Tetyana Samoderzhenkova, lawyer, the coordinator of the free legal aid office of the UHHRU in Mariupol

Vladyslav Richter, judge of the Borznyan district court of the Chernihiv region

Yulia Volnova, lawyer, Zapoizhzhe

Yaryna Sydiy, prosecutor of the Pechersk District Prosecutor’s Office of Kyiv

Stanislav Petrenko, prosecutor of the General Prosecutor’s Office

Serhiy Vozniuk, judge of the Boryspil city and district court of the Kyiv region

Zlata Busha, judicial assistant at HACC, Kyiv, participant of the UHHRU program (2023)

Iryna Krytska, Candidate of Jurisprudence, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Criminal Procedure of the Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University

Andriy Sagaydak, lawyer, Dnipro

Tetiana Katalevska, Kharkiv, lawyer, NGO “Our World”, alumnus of the ILIA and UHHRU projects (2021)

Viktoriia Konovalova, lawyer (practiced in Mariupol until 24.02.2022), alumnus of the UHHRU project (2022)

Liliia Oliinyk, advocate, mediator, dialogue facilitator, Kyiv

Olena Sapozhnikova, ILIA/EHREL project alumnus (2012-2013), lawyer, Kyiv, Ukraine

Dmytro Zharyi, lawyer, ILIA/EHREL project alumnus

Larisa Korunchak, associate professor of the Department of General Law and Social and Humanitarian Disciplines of the Kherson Faculty of the Odessa State University of Internal Affairs

Anastasia Krasun, prosecutor of the department of the Dnipropetrovsk regional prosecutor’s office

Valentina Malinovska, judge of the Shevchenko District Court of Kyiv

Tetyana Ognevyuk, lawyer, alumnus of the UHHRU project (2023)

Rabomizo, Denys, advocate, managing partner at Rabomizo law firm, ILIA/EHREL project alumnus

Valentina Babak, alumnus of the UHHRU project (2023)

Volodymyr Pitsykevych, lawyer, managing partner at Аmprolex law firm

Andrii Lyubimov, lawyer, Odesa Oblast Bar Council

Demura M.I., Doctor of Law, associate professor, lawyer, Poltava Region Bar Council

Maryna Zakharova, lawyer, Kriviy Rih, Dnipropetrovsk region

Olena Balzhik, judge of the Izmail city-district court of Odesa region, the city of Ismail

Oleksandr Kravets, retired judge, partner of Teffilaw firm, PhD

Natalia Gurkovska, lawyer,  regional coordinator of  Ombudsman in Vinnytsia

Oleksandra Zhukovska, judge of the Dubensky District Court of the Rivne Region

Oksana Boyko, judge of the Odesa District Administrative Court

Anna Ogrenchuk, President of the Association of Lawyers of Ukraine

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