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Укр / Eng
16.12.20

To the President of Ukraine

Volodymyr Zelenskyy

 Dear Volodymyr Olexandrovych!

We, the non-governmental human rights sector organizations who work with the protection of the rights of victims of the armed conflict in Ukraine, with the fullest respect for You express our demand not to narrow the scope of the National Strategy for Human Rights.

Adopted through the Decree of the President of Ukraine in 2015, the National Strategy in the field of human rights needs to be updated. In the summer of 2020, the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine began work on developing amendments to the Strategy and drafting the Action Plan for its implementation. Representatives of the human rights NGO sector in Ukraine and international partners were involved in the work.

During October, the Directorate for Strategic Planning and European Integration of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine held a series of meetings of thematic groups to develop an Action Plan for the implementation of the National Strategy in the field of human rights for 2021-2023.

The Coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations Concerning the Protection of the Rights of Persons Affected by the Armed Conflict in Ukraine submitted proposals to the Action Plan, which includes about 90 measures for overcoming the negative consequences of the armed conflict caused by the armed aggression of the Russian Federation and to protect, ensure and exercise the rights of internally displaced persons and residents of the occupied territories, those who live near the contact line in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, persons deprived of liberty as a result of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, persons who have disappeared in unknown circumstances and members of their families.

The proposals were prepared and sent by experts from the NGO Sector Coalition and were partially taken into account. In particular, the Ministry of Justice proposes to combine the protection of internally displaced persons, residents of the temporarily occupied territories and residents of the so-called “gray zone” in one group – victims of armed aggression in Ukraine. At the same time, according to the logic of the Ministry of Justice, the categories of persons who disappeared during the conflict or who were deprived of personal liberty as a result of the armed conflict are not considered victims.

However, although the text of the draft amendments to the National Strategy for Human Rights includes some proposals submitted by NGOs, the draft Action Plan for the implementation of the National Strategy ignores these proposals.

Due to the fact that not all the measures planned for 2020 were implemented, NGO Sector proposed to update some of the measures and add new ones that would simplify access to education, administrative services, pensions, social benefits, intensify the process of land demining, introduce an evaluation mechanism of the needs of internally displaced persons and ensure the process of permanent financing of housing programs for IDPs.

Unfortunately, instead of developing high-quality and effective measures, the Ministry of Justice has chosen to focus on steps that are easier to implement and less conflicting to agree with other ministries. In particular, most of the measures proposed by the Ministry relate to the development and submission of draft regulations, although the drafting of regulations alone does not change the situation with human rights in Ukraine.

Such a plan, even if fully implemented, will not lead to the achievement of the goals set by the Strategy, which in turn will result in withdrawal of Ukraine’s movement towards a democratic state governed by the rule of law. Instead, the draft of the updated Action Plan, which focuses on regulatory activities, transforms the document into a formal and technical one, focused exclusively on quantitative indicators and does not introduce systemic changes.

We once again draw attention to the fact that the adoption of certain regulations does not necessarily lead to ensuring the realization of human rights and freedoms. Moreover, the decision to adopt them is the power of Parliament, as the National Strategy is a document that shows the intentions and specific actions of public authorities in certain areas.

We, the non-governmental human rights sector organizations who work with the protection of the rights of victims of the armed conflict in Ukraine, call to take into account the provided proposals and develop amendments to the National Strategy for Human Rights, as well as to the Action Plan for its implementation, taking into account the real needs of all categories of victims of the conflict caused by the armed aggression of the Russian Federation.

We emphasize that in the process of proposal for the Action Plan preparation we relied on our experience in the field of protection of the above mentioned persons and indicated their specific needs, that are not taken into account in the Ministry of Justice broad framework of the National Strategy.

Annex – proposals for amendments to the National Human Rights Strategy.

NGO “Civil holding “GROUP OF INFLUENCE”

KrymSOS NGO

ZMINA Human Rights Center

Right to Protection Charitable Foundation

Charity Foundation Stabilization Support Services in Ukraine

Vostok SOS Charitable Foundation

Crimean Human Rights Group (CHRG)