On April 25, 2018 press conference “What will protect ordinary people during the conflict? Presentation of civil society’s legislative initiative” was held in Kyiv.
On April 18, 2018 Draft Law On the Principles of State Policy on Protecting Human Rights in the Context of Overcoming the Consequences of the Armed Conflict was announced during a hearing of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, Ethnic Minorities and International Relations, developed in November 2017 by a working group under the Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights. The group consisted of experts from the Commissioner’s Secretariat, Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, UNHCR, Ministry of Temporarily Occupied Territories and IDPs, NGOs Group of Influence, Crimean Human Rights Protection Group, Crimea SOS, Human Rights Information Center, as well as of People’s Deputies of Ukraine. The draft law was a result of UHHRU’s two-year work in the field of transitional justice and the practical work of the Ombudsperson and partner organizations on overcoming the consequences of the armed conflict.
Valeriya Lutkovska, Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights in 2012-2018 and now Head of the Ukrainian Institute for Human Rights, remarked that the bill is extremely relevant for the Ukrainian human rights community. “It is very important to determine how the country is going to live after we regain control over the border with Russia, when Crimea’s annexation will end and Ukraine will be in full control of its entire territory. We had to do it yesterday, and we most definitely must do it today,” she said.
The bill is a framework document that determines long-term policy on national priorities and interests of ordinary citizens affected by the conflict. “Principles of state policy” are the basis for drafting laws and other legislative documents aimed at addressing issues related to overcoming the consequences of the armed conflict, ensuring human rights as the main value of state policy, resolving issues of social reconciliation, restoration of violated rights and reintegration, as well as preventing a recurrence of such situations in the future.
The bill introduces a fundamentally new approach – implementation of the principles of transitional justice, which has a long history and brings the rich international experience of post-conflict countries. Oleh Martynenko, head of analytics at UHHRU, stressed that Ukraine should work out its personal model of transitional justice, as world experience does not provide universal examples. The model of transitional justice, or simply transitional justice, requires the government to take coordinated action in four primary areas: compensation for victims of the armed conflict; prosecution of perpetrators; ensuring the right to know the historical truth about the course of events; and implementing institutional reforms to prevent a repeat of the conflict. The bill is based on framework thematic documents of the UN and the Council of Europe, as well as on the world experience with different models of transitional justice.
The “human dimension” of state policy, through the introduction of the principles of transitional justice, has become omnipresent, due to the fact that it was Ukraine’s human resources that became a target of such negative and complex challenges, specifically:
over 10.3 thousand dead, 24.5 thousand wounded and about 1,300 missing civilians and combatants;
involvement of at least 45 thousand Ukrainian citizens in the activities of illegal armed groups, and of more than 346 thousand Ukrainian citizens in the activities of self-proclaimed entities – so-called “government institutions of DPR/LPR” – paramilitary units and occupation authorities;
relocation of close to 2.7 million citizens within and beyond Ukraine, out of which approximately 60% are pensioners, 60% women, 13% children and 4% are persons with disabilities;
deportation of more than 1,500 people from Crimea and Sevastopol by occupation authorities, as well as forced displacement to Russia of about 4,700 people who had been held in Crimea’s prisons;
extremely vulnerable state of about 800,000 people living in the conflict zone, as well as of 45-47 thousand people who cross the demarcation line in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and the administrative border with Crimea every day;
various kinds of damage caused to more than 5 million residents of certain territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts;
need for government aid among 3.8 million Ukrainian citizens as a result of the conflict, with 2.8 million of those living in territories outside GoU control.
about 200 thousand children who require psychological and rehabilitation assistance as victims of the armed conflict, and at least 4,900 orphans and children deprived of parental care that remained in the occupied territories of Crimea.
According to UHHRU Executive Director Oleksandr Pavlichenko, it is time to emphasize the urgent need for transitional justice, which should become an instrument for politicians. “The war cannot be won by military means and methods only. It is also impossible to overcome the people in uncontrolled territories of Ukraine this way and reintegrate them in Ukrainian environment – to bring them back to Ukraine,” he stressed. “We must think about those tools and mechanisms that will allow us to find compromise and build Ukraine’s future peacefully. The bill is going to be such a tool.
The bill’s authors are convinced that its adoption and implementation will satisfy the expectations of all social groups in Ukraine, the demands of territorial communities and requirements of the international community, as well as help promote public dialogue for integration in Ukrainian society, to ensure a common and objective view of events and their assessment.
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