Only 10% of the Human Rights Strategy Followed In Last Six Months
The situation with implementing the Action Plan of the National Human Rights Strategy is not exactly catastrophic, but it isn’t comforting either.
Government officials do not fully understand the importance of the Strategy and the mandatory implementation of the Action Plan, the authorities do not cooperate with the public, and the public is often too passive to analyze the work of the state.
These findings were presented by Mikhaylo Chaplyga, a representative of the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner on Human Rights, reports the Human Rights Information Center correspondent.
The National Strategy is a road map that shows what the government needs to do in order to improve the human rights situation within a five year span of time. The strategy was developed to look ahead up to 2020. The Action Plan is a sort of compromise document between the authorities and civil society. The Cabinet of Ministers has approved the plan, and therefore the government must fulfill these commitments, comments Chaplyga.
Chaplyga notes that there is now a serious need to monitor the observance of human rights because of the risk of those rights being narrowed. This is why a public monitoring platform was created with the participation of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (UHHRU) and the Commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on Human Rights.
“The National Strategy is a very important tool through which we can influence the authorities. Previously, we relied only on international agreements. Now, Ukraine is at a new stage, when the state has an internal document to go off of, its own Human Rights Strategy,” says one of the platform initiators, the Head of UHHRU, Arkadiy Bushchenko.
Monitoring is carried out through the analysis of open source governmental information, alternative reports, responses to information requests, and so on.
“During this whole time period, between the end of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016, only 10% of the planned activities have been performed. This indicator is not very comforting. There are huge risks of partial or incorrect understandings of the Action Plan,” comments Chaplyga.
Among those who have been the most open to communication with the public are the Ministry of Justice, the National Police, and the Ministry of Social Policy. Among ministries that “could have done more, but did not,” and showed a complete lack of communication with the public, are the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education.
Problems named by the monitors include the lack of understanding by bureaucrats, lack of preparedness to cooperate with civil society bodies, formalism, and a focus on quantity over quality.
However, Chaplyga also notes that civil society organizations themselves did not perform at their fullest. According to him, only about twenty non-governmental organizations and independent experts have been active throughout the country.
The experts have formed their recommendations and advise the government to listen. They do not yet want to talk about sanctions against ministries or departments that do not fulfill their obligations. Rather, it is that the lack respect for human rights is bad for the country’s image.
Experts note that the main purpose of monitoring is not to punish, but to advocate that the fulfillment of the Action Plan benefits everyone, non-governmental organizations, the government, and society as a whole.
In the meantime, the Human Rights Commissioner is preparing a letter to the Cabinet with a proposal to motivate specific ministries and departments to become more active in the fulfillment of the Action Plan.
“We rely on the assumption that the Prime Minister and the President are interested in creating a positive image of the country. We are ready to hold a meeting with them about how important it is to implement the national Action Plan, and that it is also in the interests of the state”, says Chaplyga.