Human rights defenders call on Ukraine’s authorities to edit the Government’s program and to make human rights a priority

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To the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal

Your excellency PM Shmyhal!

We, the civil society organizations that work for the protection of human rights, address you on the matter of the forming of the Government’s Activities Program and of the plan of its implementation.

On May, 7th, 2020 the Committee on Economic Development of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has decided to send back for improvement the concept of the Government’s Activities Program that was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on April, 2nd, 2020. The concept of the program was also not approved by other committees of the parliament, including the Committee on Human Rights, Deoccupation and Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories, National Minorities and Interethnic Relations.

We, as human rights organizations, could not omit the fact that the Government’s Activities Program did not feature adequately the human rights protection problematique. A nominal mentioning of the need to resolve systemic problems in the area of human rights protection, which was placed  in the penultimate sub point of the last point of the program cannot be considered sufficient for a government activities program of a modern democratic state.  

We fully understand the complexity of the current situation. The COVID-19 pandemic, economic recession, global financial crisis, the war with Russia combined with many other issues are in the focus of the Cabinet of Ministers. Yet, neglecting the question of developing of the state policy on protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the strategic document may result in dire consequences for the entire country.

Human rights must be the defining and fundamental element of the entire activity of the government. This is in line with the Constitution of Ukraine: according to Art. 3, rights and freedoms of an individual and guaranties of these rights and freedoms determine the content and direction of the activities of the state. Unfortunately, this fundamental element is missing in the Government’s Activities Program.  This will inevitably affect the functioning of ministries and the implementation of the fundamental document – the National Human Rights Strategy.

This strategy is aiming at enhancing government’s capacity to reinforce and guarantee human rights and fundamental freedoms; to create and maintain an effective mechanism of protection of these rights and freedoms; to resolve systemic issues that are related. The strategy also helps Ukraine fulfil its obligations related to implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with Kyiv having to report on its progress in this endeavor this year. . The strategy and the respective action plan also kept the fulfilment of Ukraine’s other human rights protection obligations on the agenda. It is Cabinet of Ministers’ duty to prepare an action plan for implementation of the strategy. In particular, the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine is responsible for collecting and analyzing data originating from government bodies that has to do with implementation of the action plan of the National Human Rights Strategy. It is also responsible for organizing of public reporting on implementation of the strategy as well as for improving of it based on public discussion.  

That is why we, the civil society organizations that work for the protection of human rights, ask you to include human rights protection to the list of your priorities and to the list of priorities of the Ministry of Justice as you launch the process of improving of the Government’s Activities Program. It is important for the sake of not leaving human rights protection just on paper, for the sake of human rights protection not to be done with leftover resources, for the sake of it to become the true basis of the work of the government. We believe that the Ministry of Justice has to play the key role in implementing of this state policy through regular reporting to the Cabinet of Ministers on the progress of implementation of the National Human Rights Strategy and through informing of the public on steps taken by the Cabinet of Ministers to improve h situation with human rights protection.

Human Rights Center ZMINA

Crimean Human Rigths Group

Ukrainian Pacifist Movement

LGBT Nash Svit Center

Social Action Centre

Right to Protection


Educational Human Rights House Chernihiv

Fulcrum UA

“Women in Media” Association

Charity Foundation Stabilization Support Services in Ukraine

Ukraine without torture


Open Dialogue Foundation


LGBT Association LIGA

Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Civil holding “GROUP OF INFLUENCE”

Kharkiv Institute for Social Research

No Borders Project