Human rights defenders demand a transparent competition for the post of Ombudsman
On May 24, a number of human rights organizations protested at the Committee of the Parliament on Human Rights against the politicized and non-transparent election of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights.
Representatives of the Human Rights Information Centre, the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, the Center for Civil Liberties, the Amnesty International, the Freedom House, the Crimean Human Rights Group and other organizations took part in the action.
At this moment, Lyudmyla Denisova (nominated by the People’s Front faction), Serhiy Alexeyev (nominated by the Petro Poroshenko Bloc faction) and Andriy Mamalyga (nominated by the Radical Party faction led by Oleh Lyashko) are applying for the post of the Commissioner.
During the performance, participants of the action showed a “tamed” Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights – controlled by politicians. He agreed with the Internet ban, the resettlement of dissenters in the occupied territories and the installation of security cameras in the toilets.
According to human rights defenders, current candidates are dependent from politicians and are unknown to human rights groups. They have no knowledge and experience in the field of human rights, and therefore will not be able to effectively perform the assigned functions, but will most likely serve party interests.
“If the Ombudsman is appointed in a closed, behind-the-scenes way among candidates, whose human rights activities and programs we do not know anything about, then we will get a tamed Ombudsman. Who will defend the interests of the authorities and politicians, but not the interests of citizens”, – said Tetyana Pechonchyk, Chair of the Board of the Human Rights Information Centre.
Coordinator of the Crimean Human Rights Group, Olga Skrypnyk, said during the protest that she does not know anything about the candidates’ human rights experience and that she have not seen their programs.
“None of the candidates that are being considered today has given an answer, how they are planning to release hostages, how they will negotiate for the prisoners, how they will release political prisoners, what they are planning to do with the Crimea, what kind of strategy for protection of human rights do they have. I, as a resident of Crimea, have a right to know what person are my deputies appointing”, – she said.
According to Zoryan Kis, Coordinator of Freedom House projects in Kyiv, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada or the Chairman of the Committee of the Parliament on Human Rights should invite human rights organizations to meetings and together decide on the procedure and criteria for selecting a new Ombudsman. “We need to create, as it is in many reforms, a contest commission or conduct interviews with all candidates”, – explained the human rights defender.
Oleksandra Romantsova from the Center for Civil Liberties noted that the institution of the Ukrainian Ombudsman received an “A” status in accordance with the Paris Principles of the United Nations. “This is the highest existing mark of independence, therefore it is very important not to lose this status and appoint an Ombudsman equidistant from political forces and influences. And such a person can be appointed through an open and transparent competition with the participation of civil society”, – she said.
As a reminder, earlier human rights defenders made an open statement, in which they called for establishing a transparent procedure for selecting a new Commissioner.
According to human rights organizations, the candidates at the contest should be checked by such criteria: high moral standards; deep knowledge of international human rights standards; long-term experience of human rights work; high prestige in society and international community; complete independence from political forces.
Human rights defenders proposed Larysa Denysenko, Yevgen Zakharov, Valeriya Lutkovska and Volodymyr Yavorskyy for the position of Ombudsman.