Basic Human Rights Not Advancing In Ukraine Despite Country’s Formal, Signatory Commitment

KIEV, Ukraine -- Taboo during the Soviet era, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is available for anyone to read at

Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948, the declaration arose from the tragedies of World War II and became the first to globally recognize the “inherent dignity, equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.”

Ukraine, however, celebrated the 60th anniversary still mired in official corruption and other human wrongs. The Kyiv Post asked Ukrainian Ombudsman Nina Karpacheva for a progress report.

“Disregard for human rights is a norm of modern life in Ukraine. The country is drawn into brutal legal nihilism. Ukraine has joined 220 U.N. human rights conventions, but mechanisms for their realization are not working as any official at any level ignores court decisions,” Karpacheva said.

“Respect for human dignity can not appear out of nowhere, it has to be cultivated. We must realize that rights are inherently entitled and not given by the state. Next year we’re issuing a manual for human rights protection for children. Our human rights start with the rights of our kids. The text of the declaration has to be on every Ukrainian desk, as it is the constitution of mankind.”

Karpacheva also summarized progress in the following areas:

Violence: “Measures [to stop] mass police tortures must be found. Domestic violence is another huge problem. Thousands of women, children and elderly people need to be protected. Years ago, when I started fighting against abuse of inmates’ rights, many were asking me ‘Don’t we have other problems than those of inmates?’ I never grew tired of repeating that the wall between penitentiary establishments and society is relative.”

Freedom of speech: “PR took over vital social issues. Persecutions and intimidation of journalists still exist. In 2005, there were 16 cases of journalist harassments [beatings, assaults, intimidation], 33 in 2006 and 22 in 2007. None of the crimes was solved. Even if they get to court, they fade out in their infancy. Until the head of Georgiy Gongadze is found, Ukraine will remain the ‘headless rider.’ ”

Discrimination: “There is brutal disrespect towards foreigners, persons without citizenship and refugees. Ukraine must create more efficient laws against xenophobia, racism and intolerance, as there were five murders of foreign citizens and 76 attempted murders during the year.”

Rights of defendants: “For 10 years, parliament has not adopted a law about free legal assistance. More than 70 percent of Ukrainians appeared below the poverty line and are unable to afford a private lawyer.”

Human trafficking: “In 1999, all U.N. conventions concerning human trafficking were efficiently included in a single article [of the Criminal Code], covering men, women, children and organ trafficking. Parliament successfully tore the article into pieces and scattered it among others. Now it’s almost impossible to institute criminal proceedings for human trafficking.”

Adoption: “The Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption ... contradicts our national interests, clearing the way for masked trafficking of orphans.”

Rights of sailors: “Our sailors wander around the world under foreign flags, unprotected. We initiated the ratification of U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and parliament ratified it. This convention gives the opportunity and mechanism for protection of sailors’ rights. Nobody uses it. Nobody cares.”

Source: Kyiv Post


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