UHHRU: Instead of Attacks on the Ombudsman Deputies Shall Work on Human Rights

The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (UHHRU) is concerned about the fact that the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has not found time to listen to the report of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights for two months.

The report which has been prepared by the Commissioner in cooperation with representatives of the human rights defence society and international organisations contains numerous facts of flagrant violations of human rights in 2014, a range of legal acts adopted last year which fail to comply with international standards in the sphere of human rights, and substantially narrow rights and freedoms.

The country is in difficult times when human rights are under serious threat. Concerns raised in the report shall be considered by the parliament immediately, and urgent measures shall be taken for their solution. Ignoring such an important document may demonstrate that human rights are on the fringes of interests of the Ukrainian political society.

It can cast doubt on both sincerity of assurances made by the government of the country on the international arena and actual orientation of reforms at improving the human rights situation in the country.

Unfortunately, instead of the purposeful discussion on issues raised in the report, the parliament is again trying to dismiss the ombudsman from the office. Registration of the draft law No. 2876 dated May 18, 2015 and statements of some deputies could be perceived as excessive acts of individual politicians. For instance, in 2014 the parliamentary committee for human rights rejected the similar draft law (No. 4231) as it understood importance of ensuring independence of the national human rights institution.

The UHHRU is concerned about the fact that infringement upon independence of the most important institutions is becoming a modern trend in the Ukrainian politics. Dismissal of judges of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine in February 2014 in breach of fundamental procedural guarantees, a prejudiced criminal case against judges of the Constitutional Court, doubtful lustration laws in which political preferences prevail over independence guarantees could be mentioned as an example. Against such background registration of the draft law No. 2876 is perceived as a worrying symptom.

The UHHRU has always insisted that the ombudsman’s position should not be subject to political trading. Moreover, independence of this institution cannot be threatened depending on change in political preferences of the parliament. Politicians’ dissatisfaction itself demonstrates that the ombudsman does its job instead of trying to draw support of dominant political forces. And independence guarantees are the very thing which protects the ombudsman’s position from political influence. One of such guarantees is a certain term which the ombudsman is appointed for.

Early dismissal of the ombudsman from the office will mean an illusionary nature of constitutional guarantees and total dependence of this position on the political environment. Any statements on compliance with the supremacy of law principle will be obscured with such evident political pressure from the parliament if attempts of certain politicians in this sphere turn out to succeed.

Unfortunately, speeches of politicians obviously demonstrate their intention to dismiss the ombudsman early, but there is no argument with regard to exact activity of the ombudsman which serves as a ground for raising this issue. Taking into account absence of initiators’ arguments, it is of paramount importance to present some counter arguments.

The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union hopes that the parliament will immediately start discussing problems on the sphere of human rights issues rained in the Annual Report of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights instead of ruining independence of the national human rights defence institution.

Mykola Kozyriev, Chairman of the Board of the UHHRU

Arkadii Bushchenko, Executive Director of the UHHRU

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