Stop ruining unity of the society. Statement by the International Renaissance Foundation
Since the Revolution of Dignity Ukraine has made notable progress in implementing the anti-corruption policy. New anti-corruption legislation, in line with best international standards, has been approved. New anti-corruption institutions have become operational and launched investigations into corrupt officials’ misdeeds. E-declaration of civil servants’ assets, open registers and transparent public procurement have been put in place. Together, these resulted in positive changes recognized both by Ukrainian experts and the international community.
NGOs that enjoy vast public trust have served as the engine of positive change, together with reformers in the government and members of the parliament. However, today the cooperation between the state and the civil society in overcoming corruption in Ukraine is faced with increasingly tangible threats.
A coordinated information campaign, unfolded within the recent few weeks, aims at undermining the reputation of a number of public experts who work in the field of anti-corruption policy, primarily that of the leaders of the Anti-corruption Action Center NGO. The main tool of that campaign is personal information, obtaining, maintaining and protecting which is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the governmental bodies. The law does not envisage the transfer of such information at the request of a private or legal person. Therefore, we, the International Renaissance Foundation, have every reason to believe that those data were obtained in violation of the current legislation of Ukraine.
To prevent the loss of trust between the government and a part of the civil society, we urge that the state authorities that allowed the public and systematic use of confidential information and manipulation of it to discredit civic activists must stop that violation of the right of individuals for the respect to their private and family life immediately and ensure unconditional protection of that right from now onwards.
We also call on civil society activists, especially those working on detecting corruption among senior officials, to ensure the most balanced information about potential facts of corruption, to avoid manipulations and the use of unverified facts.
We believe that no one can be beyond criticism, but any criticism should not be directed at destroying state institutions, civil society and lead to further spread of an atmosphere of cynicism and mistrust in the society.
According to the legal opinion of the European Court of Human Rights, repeatedly confirmed in its verdicts, an acceptable degree of public interest in private lives of politicians and public officials is significantly higher than the extent of legally permitted interest in lives of other citizens, including NGO experts. Therefore, we cannot justify the attempts to interfere in the lives of civic activists by the same interest of those activists and the media in the life of public officials performing the functions of government.
We support the society’s demand for transparency of revenues and expenditures of NGOs regardless of their field of activity. The Foundation welcomes and encourages the practice of NGOs that publish their annual reports in accordance with internationally accepted standards of transparency and openness.
The International Renaissance Foundation states with full responsibility that all projects supported by the IRF and implemented by the Anti-corruption Action Center NGO have been implemented in compliance with international standards of good project management, in accordance with approved budgets and transparent reporting.
We expect the relevant state authorities to provide answers with regards the reasons for the repeated illegal use and manipulation of data, the protection of which is an integral part of democratic governance.
This must be done in order to preserve unity of the society and build an atmosphere of trust, which is indispensable for the pursuit of democratic reforms and for effective response to external threats.comments powered by Disqus
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