A Human Rights Ombudsperson must serve the people not the coalition
The Human Rights Ombudsperson Nina Karpachova is politically engaged and falsifies checks into citizens’ complaints. These are some of the conclusions reached by the civic human rights organizations who have been monitoring her activities since she was re-appointed 100 days ago.
This formed the subject of a press conference held today to explain why civic organizations believe there is a need to monitor the work (or lack of such) or Nina Karpachova,
It is now 100 days since Nina Karpachova began her third term in office. Her second was terminated prematurely by the Verkhovna Rada some seven months (rather than the ten days stipulated by legislation) after she was elected National Deputy (MP) from the Party of the Regions. She was then voted back in by her parliamentary colleagues despite a massive campaign by civic organizations throughout Ukraine, and quite unequivocal statements from officials in the Council of Europe and international human rights organizations regarding the inappropriateness of political engagement and clear conflict of interests in Karpachova’s standing again.
During the first 100 days of her new tenure, Nina Karpachova launched only three invesstigations. And this is despite a Secretariat behind her boasting 120 people. The funding is allocated from the Budget. Human rights groups believe it to be 20 million UAH per year.
Yevhen Zakharov, former candidate for the post of Ombudsperson, accuses Nina Karpachova of defending the interests of a certain political force, and not the rights of people who have been hurt by the State. In the 2006 elections Ms Karpachova was second on the candidate list for the Party of the Regions.
Other criticism involves her failure to respond swiftly to human rights abuses and her lack of openness. According to Yevhen Zakharov, the Ombudsperson’s Secretariat has mastered the skills of ping-pong with complaints getting sent to the institutions which are being complained about.
Kateryna Levchenko, member of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on legislative backup for law enforcement work told those present that during her first 100 days in office, Nina Karpachova had several times infringed the principle of impartiality giving grounds for believing that her actions were politically motivated.
On 3 April 2007, for example, she addressed the dissolved Verkhovna Rada claiming that the President did not have the right to issue a Decree dissolving parliament.
Acting more like a political figure than a civil servant, on 11 April during an extended session of the Public Constitutional Assembly (attended by such formerly active politicians as Leonid Kravchuk, Volodymyr Lytvyn, Inna Bohoslovska and others) she presented proposals for resolving the political crisis which in no way differed from those of the coalition – a zero option (going back to before the first Decree dissolving parliament) or simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections.
While the Ombudsperson’s jurisdiction is limited to being intermediary in conflict situations between individuals and the State authorities, bodies of local self-government and their officials, Nina Karpachova on the pretext of worrying about public order, has interfered in conflict between branches of power. She has effectively taken on the rule of the Constitutional Court in giving her opinion as to the constitutionality or otherwise of the President’s actions.
The press conference was also reminded of the events around the case of school students from Chyhyryn being taken to Kyiv to participate in a pro-coalition political demonstration (cf. http://khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1177634301 ).
On 18 April the Ombudsperson’s site quoted the Head of the Cherkasy Regional Department of the SBU [Security Service] Ivan Prokopenko as saying that the trip had been organized only with the consent of the students’ parents. This statement was totally refuted by the Head of the Chyhyryn School Raisa Zakharchenko who said that on 4 April the parents had not known that their children were in Kyiv and believed them to be in class. Furthermore, the Head of the Chyhyryn District Administration Petro Lytvyn told reporters during a press conference in Kyiv on 24 April that having arrived in Chyhyryn, the Ombudsperson’s representative had began demanding that the Head of the School provide a note stating that the children had not travelled to Kyiv. When the Head refused to provide a manifestly false document, the Ombudsperson’s site announced that the children had travelled to Kyiv with their parents’ consent.
From the Ombudsperson’s site, one can learn only that over the last 100 days Nina Karpachova has launched three investigations, has got three Ukrainian nationals released and is monitoring the situation with a Ukrainian woman serving a prison sentence in Thailand. She is also following a case where a mother was driven to suicide and is taking part in a court suit on the elections of the Mukachevo Mayor.
There is no other information about Ms Karpachova’s activities on her official website.
Nina Karpachova is at present on a working visit abroad. Her Secretariat refused to comment on the statement from human rights activists, saying that it did not concern them.
Anna Sukhodolova, Marina Hovorukhina
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