Human rights defenders demand compliance with procedures and independent competition for the position of the Commissioner for Human Rights

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We, the representatives of human rights organizations, call on the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to stop politicization and attempts to destroy the independence of the institute of Ombudsman, urging to create conditions for open and independent competition for the position of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights in compliance with internationally recognized standards of transparency, impartiality, and civil society involvement.

On May 30, it became known that the members of the Parliament of Ukraine were collecting signatures to declare no confidence in Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Liudmyla Denisova in accordance with Article 12 of the Law of Ukraine “On Legal Regime of Martial Law”, which entered into force on May 20, 2022. At the same time, the names of possible candidates for the post from the Servant of the People pro-government parliamentary faction or close to President Volodymyr Zelensky began to appear in the public spotlight.

Despite the fact that the Commissioner’s work has been regularly criticized by the human rights community since her appointment in 2018, we emphasize that amendments to the legislation that allow during the war to declare no confidence and dismiss the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights without ensuring proper procedures for the election of a new Commissioner pose a threat to the entire state system of protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Back then, in 2018, when Liudmyla Denisova was appointed as the Commissioner, and now we insist that the independence of candidates for this position and their compliance with professional and ethical requirements can be guaranteed only through an open competition involving civil society in the candidate selection process. The election of the Commissioner without properly defined procedures will not eliminate the shortcomings of the institution but will exacerbate existing problems.

We also consider that Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Ruslan Stefanchuk should take responsibility for ensuring a proper procedure for the election and appointment of the Commissioner in full compliance with the UN Paris Principles.

Currently, amid Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine, the independent and apolitical institution of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights is of particular importance. And a person who will hold the position of Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights must meet the criteria of professionalism, integrity and impartiality, have experience in the field of human rights and knowledge of their relationship to international humanitarian law.

Building and strengthening an independent and internationally relevant institute of Ombudsman is not only an important component of a democratic state but also one of the key mechanisms for protecting human rights in the context of the ongoing armed conflict and overcoming its consequences in Ukraine.

Therefore, we demand to:

  • strictly follow the procedure of dismissal of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights until the expiration of the term of office in accordance with the Law of Ukraine “On Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights”
  • hold public consultations with human rights organizations on procedures and criteria for selecting candidates for the position of Commissioner
  • ensure transparent and independent competition for the position of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights with the possibility of participation and attraction of a wide range of candidates without political influence.

The Ukrainian human rights movement is based on deep traditions of defending human rights priorities. In the current circumstances of the large-scale war which is of ideological values nature, our state needs to have an independent institution that guarantees the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. This is what distinguishes us from Russia and makes us part of the civilized world.

  1. Human Rights Centre ZMINA
  2. Human Rights Center “Action”
  3. Media Initiative for Human Rights
  4. Educational Human Rights House Chernihiv
  5. Regional Center for Human Rights
  6. Association UMDPL
  7. Ukrainian Legal Advisory Group
  8. NGO “Detector Media”
  9. Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research
  10. Institute of Mass Information
  11. “Almenda” Civic Education Center
  12. CrimeaSOS
  13. Luhansk Regional Human Rights Centre “Alternative”
  14. Ukrainian Pacifist Movement
  15. IEEE Ukraine Section
  16. East SOS
  17. NGO “Public holding “Group of Influence”
  18. NGO “Theater of Change”
  19. Association of Relatives of the Kremlin Political Prisoners
  20. NGO “Ukraine without Torture”
  21. DEJURE Foundation
  22. NGO “Institute for Peace and Common Ground”
  23. Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation
  24. Human Rights Association “RIGHT CAUSE”
  25. NGO “Donbas SOS”
  26. Shoulder To Shoulder Charitable Foundation
  27. “Nash Svit” LGBT Human Rights Centre
  28. NGO “Women in the Media”
  29. Social Action Centre
  30. Charity Foundation Stabilization Support Services
  31.  NGO “Human Rights Platform”
  32. Movement CHESNO
  33. NGO “New Generation Public Center”
  34. NGO “MARCH”
  35. NGO “Alliance of Ukrainian Unity”
  36. Ukraine behind bars
  37. East European Development Institute
  38. NGO “Expert Council for Public Research and Projects in the Field of National Health and Social Protection”