The analysis provides an overview of the issue of the respect for electoral rights on liberated territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Violations that occurred during Extraordinary Presidential Elections, in 2014, and local elections, in 2015, are described.
The publication spotlights problematic issues related to the possibility of internally displaced persons to exercise their electoral right inside the communities where they reside, and also provides proposals for improving the situation. Report was prepared by Serhii Movchan, Oleksii Bida, Olha Aivazovska, Oleksandr Kliuzhev / Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Civic Network OPORA.
Since late 2013, Ukraine has been undergoing the course of permanent changes and transformations, which have multiple impacts on its development. On the one hand, the Revolution of Dignity resulted in positive changes in the Ukrainian society as renovation and partial rotation of political elites have taken places; a clear foreign policy course towards EU integration and close cooperation with NATO was declared; the commitment was expressed to transform the social and political order in the country towards democratization, protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms, civil society development; as well as the need to establish a transparent market system was declared, etc. On the other hand, the process of practical implementation of the pronounced intentions is not simple and clear-cut; it is being impeded by a number of external and internal factors, and can be qualitatively assessed some time later. Furthermore, the Revolution of Dignity and a desire of the Ukrainian society to live in a democratic European state demand a very high price to be paid, such as military actions in the East of Ukraine; numerous casualties both as a result of events on Maidan and during the armed conflict in Donbas; lost control of the Ukraine’s government over the part of the territory, and an immediate threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.
In the conditions of developing crisis trends, one of the principal tasks for the Ukrainian authorities is to regulate the issue of security that is related to all spheres of social life, social and political processes in Ukraine. The sphere of electoral relations is also not an exception.
A mandatory precondition and a defining feature of a democratic rule-of-law state, which Ukraine has proclaimed itself in the Constitution, is conducting regular and free elections aimed at renewal of representative public bodies, and change of elected officials on the basis of democratic procedures.
Unfortunately, early presidential elections in 2014 and local elections in 2015 took place in a difficult political, economic and security situation, during the ongoing constitutional reform in Ukraine aimed at decentralization of power. The conditions, in which these elections were held, were marked by illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation, and temporary control of illegal armed groups together with Russia over the parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Due to this, more than five million voters residing in these territories were not able to vote.
Depriving internally displaced persons (IDPs) of the right to vote discriminates them both in terms of ensuring equal rights and freedoms, and in terms of equal opportunities. Moreover, this is a sign of indirect discrimination on the grounds of the place of residence and of being an IDP, which is contrary to the standards of international law, Constitution, laws of Ukraine as well as Ukraine’s commitments concerning sustainable integration of IDPs in the area to which they were displaced.
The objective of this report is to improve the situation with elections in the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, and to enable internally displaced persons to exercise their right to vote in the communities of their permanent residence.
Full report is available by this link
The publication was prepared and published as part of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) “Human Rights in Action” project, implemented by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.
The views and interpretations presented in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the Government of the United States of America. Content of the publication is solely the responsibility of the authors and the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.
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