We find unacceptable the initiative by some MPs to replace the Ombudsman in any other way than allowed by the Law of Ukraine “On the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights
to the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Human Rights Valeriy Patskan and Committee members
We would like to make the following statement in response to plans by the Committee to review the activities of the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights:
The International Renaissance Foundation continues to work with the Secretariat of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights on many issues, including the prevention of torture and ill-treatment, respect for privacy and combating discrimination. The Ombudsperson and her representatives have made efforts to involve other civil society organizations, which we believe has been a positive factor.
We continue to provide support for the development of the National Preventive Mechanism against torture, which helped protesters that were detained during these protests. This new mechanism is a clear achievement of the Human Rights Commissioner. Compared to the long tenure of the previous Ombudsman, within a relatively short period of time Valeriya Lutkovska managed to significantly increase the level of professionalism of this institution, as evidenced by the annual and special reports presented to the Verkhovna Rada.
We were unpleasantly surprised by the lack of a timely assessment by the Human Rights Commissioner of the blatant restriction on civil liberties introduced as a result of a bizarre vote in the Verkhovna Rada on January 16, 2014. We also did not expect to have the support of the Human Rights Commissioner in defending the International Renaissance Foundation and other partner civil society organizations against criminal proceedings launched by the previous government.
However, there is no evidence to suggest that the Human Rights Ombudsman was involved in massive human rights abuses in Ukraine. We believe guarantees of the independence of the Ombudsman must be respected. We find unacceptable the initiative by some MPs to replace the Ombudsman in any other way than allowed by the Law of Ukraine “On the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights”.
The International Renaissance Foundation together with human rights organizations will work to strengthen the independence and capacity of the Secretariat of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights.
We hope for your understanding, evenhanded decision-making and further cooperation.
IRF Executive Director
Human Rights and Justice Program Initiative Director