Worsening human rights situation while the Ombudsperson tends to her image?

The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union reports a deterioration in the human rights situation in 2006

Yevhen Zakharov, Head of the UHHRU Board, concludes: “The situation last year if compared with 2005 had deteriorated”.  Ample corroboration of his words is provided by the annual report produced by human rights organizations “Human Rights in Ukraine – 2006”  just released.

Yevhen Zakharov stressed that there had been a serious worsening in the situation as regards political rights. He mentioned that factions were only interested in having members of their own clan on the candidate lists.

He also pointed out the right to personal data protection was being flagrantly violated. One example is provided by the new passports recently introduced with chips giving absolutely all information about Ukrainian citizens. This information can be used by any person with access to the database.

President of the Women’s Human Rights Centre “La Strada – Ukraine”, Kateryna Levchenko mentioned that human rights groups were concerned by a rise in the level of violence over recent years.

She sees one reason for this being political confrontation leading to the will to find enemies. She also mentioned the fact that the use of torture remains an issue in Ukraine, with cases of torture and ill-treatment in the law enforcement agencies, military units and in closed medical institutions.

She also pointed out that the problem of domestic violence in Ukraine was also not being tackled.

The human rights defenders were critical in their assessment of the work of Human Rights Ombudsperson Nina Karpachova.

“Virtually immediately after she was appointed Human Rights Ombudsperson*, monitoring of her work was begun. According to the results of this monitoring, one unfortunately still sees a great deal of self-advertising and political statements”, Mr Zakharov commented.

He also said that it was appalling that the Secretariat of the Human Rights Ombudsperson was sending complaints received by individuals to those organization or institutions which the complaints were about (for example, prisoners’ complaints were being sent to the State Department for the Execution of Sentences – translator).

He mentioned however that Karpachova “had intervened in fairly serious cases, and her influence had been positive”.

Very slightly adapted from a report by Interfax-Ukraine

The report “Human Rights in Ukraine – 2006” covers the whole spectre of human rights, with in-depth analysis given of legislative moves and / or shortcomings which can have impact on observance of these rights, as well as detailed accounts of the main events and trends in 2006 and the first months of 2007.  We would perhaps highlight one section of the report – that on the Chernobyl Disaster.  Looking back at the year which marked the twentieth anniversary of the tragedy, the author focuses on the right to information and to the truth about an accident which impinged upon so many people’s lives, and about those Ukrainian and international institutions who have stubbornly attempted to downplay the disaster.

The English version is to be published this month.

* Ms Karpachova was re-elected Human Rights Ombudsperson after a major civic campaign in Ukraine sought to have another candidate chosen given Ms Karpachova’s seven months as National Deputy of the Verkhovna Rada from the Party of the Regions.  In the run-up to the voting in the Verkhovna Rada, a number of international institutions and organizations stressed the desirability of a candidate without known political affiliations.  Ms Karpachova was already Human Rights Ombudsperson when she stood for office in March 2006. [translator]

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