UHHRU’s statement on attempts to remove the current Ombudsperson from office

In view of attempts to remove the current Ombudsperson from office for dubious reasons, we, human rights organizations that actively participated in the events of November 2013 – February 2014 make a statement regarding inadmissibility to apply the principle of political expediency in human rights area. This area, under any circumstances, should remain beyond politics and free from any political influence.

One is entitled to advance any claims regarding the Ombudsperson’s performance or disagree with her position on certain advocacy issues. It is normal. For instance, we disagree regarding the interpretation of the concept of depoliticizing the Ombudsperson’s office. In the meantime, it cannot go unnoticed that over a short period of time she managed to introduce an effective system of visiting detention centers together with human rights organizations, which has already positively affected conditions of detention and contributed to making such institutions more transparent.

This system, particularly, proved its effectiveness during the Euromaidan events. The Ombudsperson and her Secretariat professionally interacted with NGOs, initiative groups and activists, tirelessly defending the rights of protesters. Valeria Lutkovska personally and the Secretariat’s staff promptly reacted to all reports on illegal detentions and beating of detainees, illegal prosecution, lack of medical care, disappearances of people and other violations of activists’ rights. Assistance in the confirmation or discrediting alarming information concerning various events during the protests in Kyiv and other Ukrainian regions has also been effective.

The Ombudsperson played a key role in finding missing persons. Having assessed the Ombudsperson’s performance over the past three months, we think that it greatly contributed to reducing stress and protecting rights of those who have been persecuted by the authorities. The assistance that the Ombudsperson has provided to people by far outweighs her insufficient capacity to be vocal regarding some events or some of her inaccurate comments. We believe that the real help provided to victims is more important than any comments. Considering this we call on all the political forces to refrain from attempts to put pressure on the Ombudsperson. We believe that after the victory of the revolution Valeria Lutkovska will be able to perform much more efficiently than she did before when she was forced to maneuver in conditions of dictatorship.

Mykola Kozyrev, Chairman of the Board, Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Arkady Bushchenko, Executive Director, Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

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