Human rights defenders demand to bring the election of a new ombudsman from the shadows

Дата: 10 May 2017
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Human rights defenders call on the Parliament to elect a new Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights without political influence, as well as manipulation and hold an open competition with the involvement of civil society representatives for consultations for this purpose.

According to the reporter of the Human Rights Information Centre, this was stated by representatives of public organizations from the Human Rights Agenda Platform today at a press conference in the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center.

“The Human Rights Agenda Platform appeals to the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine with the proposal to initiate a competitive selection of candidates for the position of an authorized person, as well as appealed to the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Human Rights with a proposal to facilitate the participation of representatives of civil society in organizing and holding the corresponding competition”, – stated in an open statement of the platform participants.

“The election of an ombudsman should be out of political appointments or party quotas. Therefore, it is extremely important to protect both candidates for the position of Ombudsman and the institution of the Ombudsman from political influence. The Ombudsman should express his position based solely on international human rights standards and not serve the interests of political parties, groups, factions, etc.”, – said Olexandra Matviychuk, Chairman of the Center for Civil Liberties.

Human rights defenders also called on chairmen of parliamentary factions and deputy groups to demand the holding of a corresponding contest and not to vote for the candidacy of the human rights commissioner without holding a competition.

The authors of the statement remind that the Parliament should appoint an Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, while taking into account the termination of the five-year term of Valeriya Lutkovska’s post (her term of office expired on April 28, 2017).

“Almost two weeks have passed after the end of her term of office as the Commissioner for Human Rights, but still the society does not know about the list of possible candidates. Discussion – if it is actually happening – practically takes place behind closed doors”, – noted Matviychuk.

Human rights defenders consider it right if the candidates for the position of ombudsman can nominate themselves. And then the special commission should choose the most worthy by all criteria.

Human rights defenders noted that the names of possible candidates for the post of ombudsman, indicated in the joint statement, are absolutely not an exhaustive list.

“This only sets the bar, to which people have to measure up. We only quote these names to show that there really is a choice”, – said Olexandra Matviychuk.

According to her, the authors of the statement would be happy to see lawyer and human rights activist Larysa Denysenko, Chairman of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group Yevgen Zakharov, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union Volodymyr Yavorskyy and the last ombudsman Valeriy Lutkovska participating in the contest.

In the opinion of human rights defenders, 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.

“We demand to ensure that candidates meet professional standards and are independent from the influence of partisan interests. This will be possible only by holding an open nomination and discussion of candidates with the involvement of representatives of civil society in the selection process. Otherwise there is a great risk that persons, for whom the protection of partisan interests or interests of individuals will be higher than the protection of human rights, will be appointed for this responsible position”, – said Oksana Pokalchuk, Executive Director of the Amnesty International Ukraine.

“Taking into account the opinion of human rights defenders regarding candidates for the post of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights should be the beginning of an effective dialogue between the new Commissioner and civil society”, – said Oleksandr Pavlychenko, Deputy Director of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group.

The Human Rights Agenda is ready to assist in the organization and conduction of competitive selection, in particular, to delegate members of these organizations to the competitive commission.

Human Rights Agenda Platform is an informal coalition of human rights organizations. Center for Civil Liberties, Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Kharkiv Human Rights Group, Human Rights Information Centre, Crimean Human Rights Group, Regional Human Rights Centre, Amnesty International Ukraine are members of the Platform.

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