Hammerberg:: “No reason to exclude Tymoshenko from the elections”

In an interview to Kommersant Ukraine, the outgoing CE Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammerberg spoke of the main problems detailed in his latest report on the human rights situation in Ukraine. The following is abridged since the report is posted here in full.

“Cases of corruption, political influence on court trials have a disastrous effect on the level to which human rights are observed. Part of the problem lies in the lack of equality of arms in court proceedings – in Ukraine the prosecution has too much power. There are problems with direct or indirect political influence on the courts. And finally, Ukraine must fight violent work methods of the law enforcement bodies – both when detaining people, and when investigating crimes.”

Asked how the situation had changed in the law enforcement bodies, Mr Hammerberg said that Ukraine’s problems now are similar to those he saw several years ago, and that there does not seem to have been a significant improvement. The same complaints are heard against the police. It’s hard for victims to get a criminal investigation launched and have somebody prosecuted. Democratic supervision is needed, as well as an effective independent mechanism for internal investigations. Now, he says, there is effectively a principle of policy immunity in force.


Regarding the trials of Yulia Tymoshenko, Yury Lutsenko and Valery Ivashchenko


“In the case of Yulia Tymoshenko a wrong decision was taken to arrest her in the course of the trial. You know that nobody can be found guilty before the court ruling and therefore detention can be applied solely when there is a risk that the accused will abscond or when there is strong evidence of their pressure on parties to the proceedings. In Tymoshenko’s case there was neither the first nor the second. “

“The most important thing for me is that a person has been treated improperly and that democratic standards have been violated. I would hold the same attitude whoever was in Tymoshenko’s position. If the court had proven that Tymoshenko committed a crime precluding her participation in the elections, then the situation would be different. To this day I have seen no such evidence. And taking into account the facts that have been presented, I see no reason to exclude Tymoshenko from the election campaign”


The authorities must either show, through honest impartial court proceedings that Tymoshenko committed a crime, or she should be released and take part in the elections.


The interviewer asked about Yury Lutsenko saying that the case was different since there was a strong likelihood that he would receive a suspended sentence, though this would still preclude his participation in the elections.


Mr Hammerberg said that the situation was the same, and that unless new facts and new evidence of a crime is presented, Lutsenko should also be allowed to take part in the elections.

From a longer interview here

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