Human rights defenders informed the United Nations on how Ukraine complies with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
A group of human rights organizations consisting of the Educational Human Rights House Chernihiv, Human Rights House Crimea and Human Rights House Foundation has submitted an alternative report to the Human Rights Committee of the UN. This committee will be reviewing how Ukraine complies with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights during its 130th session in Geneva in October.
The report of human right defenders covers a wide range of issues and describes Ukraine’s situation with protection of the right to life (Art. 6 of the Covenant), protection of the right to liberty and security of person (Art. 9), of the rights of detained and incarcerated persons (Art. 10), liberty of movement and freedom to choose one’s residence (Art. 12), with the unacceptability of unlawful expulsion of foreigners (aliens) (Art. 13), with the protection of the right to freedom of expression (Art. 19), the right to peaceful assembly(Art. 21), the right of association (Art. 22), with protection of the rights of children (Art. 24) the right to vote and to be elected at genuine elections (Art. 25) and the right to freedom from discrimination (Art. 26).
Due to the illegal occupation of Crimea in 2014, the report of human rights defenders separately mentions the need for differentiated analysis of the situation with human rights in Crimean peninsula and of the respective challenges with the protection of the rights of persons living under occupation that Ukraine has faced as the result of the occupation.
According to Serhiy Burov, the director of the Educational Human Rights House Chernihiv, this submission is important because it is part of the periodic reporting of Ukraine to the Human Rights Committee of the UN.
“This submissions allows for an additional written statement on the urgent issues. It is a rather powerful step. Sometimes, through international institutions, one can achieve the things one could not achieve for a long time within one’s country. For example, when our migration offices were in quarantine, refugees could not prolong the validity of their documents and hence could not have access to medical or social services. That is why we hope to resolve some of the systematic issues and problems with the help of international institutions” – tells Serhiy Burov.
Commenting on inclusion of Crimea problematique to the submission, the coordinator of Human Rights House Crimea Maria Sulialina has noted that despite Russian Federation’s de facto control over the occupied peninsula and responsibility for the situation with human rights, Ukraine also has obligations to its citizens who live under occupation. In particular, there is a need to simplify the procedures of providing administrative services to Crimea residents in mainland Ukraine, to exercise the right to access to higher education of children from Crimea, to optimize the procedure of returning to Ukraine of Ukrainian citizens who were moved from Crimea to Russian Federation to serve their prison sentences, etc.
Recommendations on these and on other subjects are part of the submission, sent to Geneva by the human rights defenders.
Human Rights Center ZMINA as a coauthor of the submission reminded of another important issue in the area of freedom of movement – the complicated procedure of entering Crimea for foreign journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders. Their presence in occupied Crimea is very important in the context of documenting human rights violations and protection of the victims.
ZMINA also prepared the paragraph on freedom of assembly and association as well as on protection of human rights defenders and civil society activists in Ukraine.
“Ukraine is a partially free country according to judgments of international organizations. Luckily, the activity of journalists and civil society activists is not as dangerous in Ukraine as it is in neighboring Russia or Belarus. However, there is an issue of government continuously trying to shrink the legal space for activities of civil society activists and organizations. There is also an issue of unpunished assaults on activists and journalists. Reforming of the law enforcement system and of the judicial bodies – are some of the biggest tasks of the government. Without fulfilling these tasks, we cannot feel safe”, — said the head of Human Rights Center ZMINA Tetiana Pechonchyk.
The alternative submission by human rights organization can be viewed on the UN Human Rights Committee’s website.
The webpage of the UN Committee also features a list of problematic issues, related to the occupation of Crimea as well as questions to Russia, prepared by Ukrainian human rights defenders.