Mothballs from the Human Rights Ombudsperson
On 24 June this year the Verkhovna Rada for the first time in 11 years failed to pass a resolution on the Ombudsperson Nina Karpachova’s annual report on the human rights situation in Ukraine. 223 National Deputies refused to vote for it. Even the Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn’s words that “to not take part in the vote for this resolution is equivalent to getting up to stop the sun from rising” were only able to persuade the deputies to pass the draft resolution as a base and send it back to be worked on.
On 1 September parliament will make its third attempt to pass the resolution on the Ombudsperson’s annual human rights report [of which there have been five in the past 11 years, as well as two special reports, this being an infringement of Article 18 of the Law “On the Human Rights Ombudsperson”.
The resolution sent for refining was, as always, an absolute formality. The only thing which it obliged the authorities to do was to familiarize themselves with the Ombudsperson’s recommendations and conclusions. The content of the last draft was word for word the same as all previous such resolutions.
With Nina Karpacheva’s hefty tome in their hands, the National Deputies clearly didn’t even open it since otherwise they would have noticed that On 24 June 2009 the Ombudsperson presented them with a mothball-smelling report on the results of monitoring on human rights in 2006-2007. During her presentation, Ms Karpacheva used cases and data for 2008 of which there is no trace in the report. And the resolution recommended that all authorities review two-year-old conclusions and recommendations in order to improve the human rights situation in the country.
It would seem that human rights here are subject to double standards: according to Article 17 of the Law on the Ombudsperson, the latter can refuse to open a file if a person’s application was made a year after the violation was identified, while Nina Karpachova can present the Verkhovna Rada with two-year-old cases. And the National Deputies don’t even notice!
The second attempt to vote for the resolution was supposed to take place on 8 July, but this didn’t happen due to the blocking of parliament on that day by the Party of the Regions faction.
Only one fairly significant item has been added for the second reading: “To draw the attention of the Human Rights Ombudsperson to the need to unwaveringly adhere to the requirements of the Law on the Human Rights Ombudsperson. This is in particular Article 18 regarding the terms for presenting the Verkhovna Rada with an annual report on the human rights situation” as well as the regarding the content of the report regarding cases of human rights infringements during the year in which the report is presented.”
That is, the authors of the draft resolution have finally dared to propose that the National Deputies make some polite comments to the Ombudsperson over systematic infringements of Article 18 of the Law. However they continue to pay no heed to the fact that the Ombudsperson’s recommendations on improving the human rights situation in 2009 are based on monitoring for 2006-2007.
In 2008 thirteen civic organizations carried out monitoring of the Ombudsperson’s work. On the basis of the results they concluded that Nina Karpachova’s work is not very effective nor is it transparent. After the results of the monitoring were brought to the attention of the Ombudsperson, the latter became noticeably more active in providing information about her activities. This was the first time in four years that an annual report was placed on the official website, although as mentioned, based on outdated information. It would seem that through populist activities the Ombudsperson simply camouflages the lack of systematic work.
I hope that on 1 September, before passing the resolution on the Ombudsperson’s annual report, the National Deputies do actually carefully acquaint themselves with the contents of the report presented on 24 June.
One would hope that in the first quarter of 2010 the Ombudsperson will present parliament with her report for 2009 as required by the Law on the Ombudsperson.
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