Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
The decisions made by the Ukrainian parliament over the last five years aim to divide society and continue the war in which Ukrainians fight against each other. They do not aim to reconcile or reunite society. This was declared by Nataliya Natalina, the head of the board of the “Uspishna Varta” human rights platform, at the Forum of the UN in Geneva.
On November 22nd and 23rd the second session of the Forum of the UN concerning Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law took place in Geneva. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, representatives of member states of the UN, international and non-governmental organisations, experts, and representatives of the scientific community took part in the discussion on the topic “Parliaments as promoters of human rights, democracy and the rule of law”. The “Uspishna Varta” human rights platform was represented at a forum by the head of the organisation Nataliya Natalina.
Speaking about the activity of the Ukrainian parliament, the head of “Uspishna Varta” reminded foreign diplomats and UN officials that parliaments can be not only key actors in the defence of human rights and rule of law, but also a serious threat to democracy. When populism finds communication with aggressive nationalism, it indeed becomes an explosive mix that is often used by politicians to justify corruption and war, and not to develop the nation and the country.
[Nataliya Natalina at the session of the Forum of the UN concerning human rights, democracy and the rule of law]
In her speech, the representative of “Uspishna Varta” emphasised that the decisions made by the Ukrainian parliament over the last five years aim to divide society and continue the war in which Ukrainians fight against each other. They do not aim to reconcile or reunite society. “None of the laws defined by the Minsk Agreements that are necessary to stop the war in Donbass – primarily on Amnesty – have been adopted. The parliament has enforced criminal liability for those people who have an alternative viewpoint and opinion concerning the conflict in Donbass. There are so-called separatist articles – treason, calls to overthrow the constitutional system. Under these articles of the Criminal Code of Ukraine people can be sentenced to up to 15 years of imprisonment,” stated Natalina.
She cited as examples the cases of the journalists Kirill Vyshinsky, Vasily Muravitsky, Dmitry Vasilets, Pavel Volkov, Ruslan Kotsaba, and more than 400 hundred users of social networks who are pursued because of their posts on the Internet.
The human rights activist also noted that none of these laws are discussed with public and human rights organisations and civil society. The human rights activist expressed deep concern about the fact that the Ukrainian parliament doesn’t take steps to ban nationalist, far right groups that have actually taken power in their hands on the streets of Ukrainian cities. This is primarily the actions of such groups as “C14“, “National Corpus“, “Right Sector“, and “Svoboda”.
“Without the restoration of the rule of law, which the Parliament has a large role in, there won’t be any ways of solving the civil conflict in Donbass peacefully and there won’t be any reconciliation within Ukrainian society. The key to resolving the conflict in Donbass, Ukraine, and around Ukraine lies in Kiev. And the Ukrainian Parliament today is not ready to close Pandora’s box with this key, but on the contrary – the closer the elections come, the wider it opens this box. Thank you for your attention,” stated Natalina in the UN.
“Uspishna Varta” appealed to the UN to analyse the current situation and give recommendations to the parliament of Ukraine on how to be guided by the principles of rule of law, how to respect human rights, and how to involve human rights experts in the analysis of the drafted legislation.
In the written statement that will be reflected in the final resolution of the Forum, “Uspishna Varta” also outlined other facts of political persecution and decisions made by the Ukrainian parliament that violate human rights and the rule of law.
As a reminder, in September “Uspishna Varta” took part in the annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) conference organised by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in Warsaw. Within the framework of this conference, human rights activists held a round table (side event) on the topic “The right to freedom of speech and opinions in Ukraine: threats and opportunities” and also spoke about the political persecution of journalists and media agencies in Ukraine.
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