Last week Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union presented analytical report “Lost voice. Is this silence forever?” The report contains a study of IDP rights’ violations during elections held in 2014-2015.
UHHRU executive director Olexander Pavlichenko answers questions regarding the participation of IDPs in elections as well as voting rights of the residents of occupied territories in the context of transitional justice.
– Do you think that current legislation guarantees nondiscriminatory participation of IDPs in elections? Do we need new innovative measures?
– Practice shows that internally displaced persons have been deprived of the right to vote in local as well as parliamentary and presidential elections. This happened due to oversights at the legislative level. That is why they should be addressed. This is a task for the Parliament first: forming the political initiative of those who can influence decisions on how to resolve these problems through legislative changes, and we need an appropriate strategy for this, to successfully address this issue at the practical level. In addition, we need a working mechanism for territorial election commissions that will serve to ensure maximum engagement among those in Ukraine with the right to vote.
Elections that would be considered as meeting international standards can only happen after the rule of law in Ukraine is restored.
– Transitional justice sees democratic elections as one of the priority measures. In your opinion, when and to what degree should we apply these measures to residents of occupied territories?
– Transitional justice has to do with rectifying existing violations by using appropriate legal procedures. As for ensuring the rights of persons that live in territories outside GoU control, the answer is simple. Until state-guaranteed rule of law is restored there, the system of legal commitments undertaken by the government can not be implemented. In other words, elections that would be considered as meeting international standards can only happen after the rule of law in Ukraine is restored. We need to open polling places and re-establish or create new electoral districts. I believe, certain checks are necessary, verification of voters that live there. We have no solutions ready at the moment, but I’m sure it will only be possible after we restore Ukraine’s jurisdiction over these territories.