On September 19, 2018, in the framework of the OSCE HDIM 2018 in Warsaw, side event “Civil society in Ukraine. Rising threats to human rights activists” took place, attended by UHHRU experts. This event was organized by Freedom House, Anticorruption Action Centre, Gay Alliance Ukraine, Human Rights Information Centre and UHHRU.
Human rights defenders once again discussed the issue of ineffective investigations and their consequences (loss of faith among victims, cheaper “services” of criminals and increasing demand for them, society’s disappointment in the reforms of the judicial and law-enforcement systems). Also, assaults on anti-corruption activists have been mentioned. Yet, these threats notwithstanding, the participants also noted the success of civic and anti-corruption investigations.
It was also noted that the LGBT community is suffering from the aggression of right-wing radical movements. This is facilitated by the inactivity of the police and sometimes even biased attitude of investigators toward LGBT victims. The speakers told the participants that these problems prompted the Ukrainian civil society to unite. In March-April 2018, a coalition was created to protect activists. The coalition, in particular, monitors legislative initiatives aimed at restricting civil society activities. Among the more recent such initiatives is the announced intention to register a bill on foreign agents.
The trend of restrictive legislation imposed on civil society spreading in Europe is a real threat to democratic societies. This, as well as the continued impunity of those who attack activists and journalists, prompted Ukrainian NGOs to join the Coalition for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Activists. Today, we have asked all European NGOs to monitor legislative initiatives in their countries, to prevent Ukraine’s know-how of mandatory e-declarations for anti-corruption activists from spreading. We also need constant communication at the inter-state level, to strengthen international civic opposition to dictatorships,” said Olena Semyorkina (UHHRU).
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