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War – is not a Reason for Dictatorship: Human Rights Activists Warn of Danger Due to the “Laws of August 12”

Human rights activists affirm that a set of laws and draft bills, which were adopted on August 12, are potentially dangerous for the citizens of Ukraine and violate national and international statutory regulations.

Particularly, bill №4310a provides police officers with the right to use, without warning, physical force, special tools and weapons in the area of counter-terrorism operations. Such a decision may result in bodily and personal injury to people not implicated in terrorist activities.

It is worth noting that the current legislation has endowed members of the anti-terrorist operation to participate in apprehending persons and in cases when their actions actually threaten the life and health of the hostages, members of the anti-terrorist operations or others – to neutralize them.

Also, according to the law of August 14 “On amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Prosecution Service” as to the establishment of the military prosecutor’s offices” – the military prosecutor’s office has been restored. However, not only in the area of ATO, but also throughout all of the territory of Ukraine, which of course will require additional funding to create working positions, equipment etc.

Maryna Tsapok, an expert from the Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors on Law Enforcement, is exasperated: “What is the point of creating the military prosecutor’s offices throughout Ukraine, if such a department can be made in the General Procurator’s Office? And the prosecutors of this department, if necessary, may leave or be located in the area of the ATO. Moreover, until the branch office of the military prosecutor's office will be created, the ATO might come to an end. And what then, it must be disbanded again to save the budget?

The draft law №4312a provides for the “preventive” detention of individuals, involved in terrorist activities, without any judgment up to 30 days. That is, the law enforcement agencies are allowed, without opening criminal proceedings, to hold a person in custody for a month without any judgement of the court. Under such circumstances, an individual has no guarantees against highhandedness, and in particular, he will be deprived of the right to a defence, the privilege against self-incrimination and the presumption of innocence”.

According to the words of Serhii Zaiets, a lawyer, the representative of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, the European Convention on Human Rights sometimes may expect the departure from the right to liberty and security of a person. But for this there is a special procedure. The state is obliged to notify about such exceptional measures to the Secretary General of the Council. However, the lawyer doubts that officials will resort to such actions.

Legislators also have touched upon the questions of media security. Analysing the power of Parliament in this direction, Ihor Rozkladai, the lawyer of the Media Law Institute, indicates that by the laws on sanctions and the information security attempts are made at laying uncharacteristic regulatory and even punitive functions at the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine or is offered to create the regular instances within the executive branch. Provided that the authority is sabotaging conducting the system changes, aimed at increasing transparency and deconcentration of media space and at the creation of public broadcasting service and the abolishment of printed “agitation leaflets” that are funded by the taxpayers.

“Ukraine is in a state of “undeclared war” with Russia, and the state has the right and even the duty to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity. But this can be done in different ways. And the simple solutions are not always the effective ones. The system reforms almost never can be replaced by simulacrums. Which by the way can also hit us” – sums up Oleksandra Matviychuk, the Chairman of the Board of the Centre for Civil Liberties.

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