Petition of the Human Rights Agenda regarding the appointment of Parliament Ombudsperson
In May 2017 the Human Rights Agenda coalition approached the head of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine with a proposal to announce competitive selection for the position of Parliament Ombudsperson (http://ccl.org.ua/statements/vidkryta-zayava-pravozahysnoho-poryadku-dennoho-z-pryvodu-pryznachennya-upovnovazhenoho-z-prav-lyudyny), but the proposal was left unanswered.
No call for candidates was announced, and no public discussion of the process was held, as had been done in the past. Furthermore, after political parties nominated their candidates in an opaque behind-the-scenes manner, a number of events occurred that destroyed what little trust the human rights community still had for the Ombudsperson’s appointment process.
Due to unknown reasons, no voting for candidates was held within the timeframe prescribed by the law. It should be noted that in view of the schedule of the Parliament’s plenary sessions, the only day available for the voting was 6 June 2017. It never happened though which undermined the legitimacy of any subsequent actions aimed at selecting the Ombudsperson from among the candidates.
During the mishandled Ombudsperson’s appointment process (http://amnesty.org.ua/nws/poroshenko-ne-pidpisuj-falsifikovanij-zakonoproekt-6427-d/), amendments were introduced to the law on the Parliament’s regulations as well as to the procedure for the Ombudsperson’s appointment. At the same time, special law on the Ombudsperson still contains provisions that require voting by secret ballot.
Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, following its session held on 21 June 2017, called on the head of the Parliament Andriy Parubiy to consider instituting a Competition (advisory) Commission engaging representatives of human rights organizations, which would be responsible for selecting candidates, and to make this decision by reaching a consensus and taking into account international expertise on the establishment of national human rights institutions, specifically the Paris Principles.
In addition, last year UN Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Freedom House, Amnesty International and European Network of National Human Rights Institutions also called on the Parliament to establish an apolitical and objective procedure for the Ombudsperson’s appointment.
We stress once again that it is unacceptable to politicize the Ombudsperson’s post, and condemn all political arrangements as to the “right” candidate.
Since the timeframe for the voting has expired and no clear procedure for it has been established, results of the Ombudsperson’s appointment cannot be considered legitimate, which is why the Human Rights Agenda suggests the following proposal:
The three candidates – Andriy Mamalyga (faction of Oleg Liashko’s Radical Party), Liudmyla Denisova (People’s Front) and Sergiy Alieksieyev (Petro Poroshenko Bloc) should withdraw from the process and refrain from taking part in the illegitimate appointment of the Parliament Ombudsperson.
Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada should:
- stop the ongoing Ombudsperson’s appointment procedure and announce this officially;
- clearly define the appointment procedure by adopting draft law 7018-1: “On introducing amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Regulations of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine” (regarding the procedure for appointing and dismissing the Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights), which will resolve the legislative conflict and restore the secret ballot during the appointment procedure.
- restart the process of selecting candidates and appointing the Ombudsperson: announce nomination of new candidates and timeframe, as well as include in the process an interview with a commission of civil society and human rights community representatives.
International organizations, diplomatic missions and institutions should:
- monitor the Ombudsperson’s appointment process.
The Human Rights Agenda platform is an informal coalition of human rights organizations that monitor, analyze and develop legislation based on the main principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The platform includes Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, Center for Civil Liberties, Amnesty International Ukraine, Human Rights Information Center, Centre of Law Enforcement Activities Research, No Borders project of CSO “Social Action” Center and Euromaidan SOS. The platform’s work is coordinated by the Center for Civil Liberties. Contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
Human Rights Information Center
No Borders project of CSO “Social Action” Center
Open Dialogue Foundation
Luhansk Oblast Human Rights Center “Alternative”