Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
Human rights activists are concerned about the risk of martial law being used by the authorities to commit further attacks on the rights of Ukrainians…
The human rights activists of “Uspishna Varta“ are deeply concerned about the risk of the status of martial law being used by the authorities to commit further attacks on the rights of Ukrainians to freedom of speech, opinion, peaceful assembly and association, conscience and religion, as well as participation in political life, which are all guaranteed by the Constitution of Ukraine, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Human rights activists call on international organisations and foreign diplomatic missions to strengthen control over the observance of human rights in Ukraine for the period of martial law.
Recall that in accordance with the Law of Ukraine “On approval of the Decree of the President of Ukraine ‘On the introduction of martial law in Ukraine’” (No. 9338) adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament on November 26, martial law in Ukraine was introduced from 14:00 on November 26 to 14:00 on December 26, 2018. According to the explanation on the website of the National Security and Defence Council, martial law is introduced in the Vinnytsia, Lugansk, Nikolaev, Sumy, Odessa, Kharkov, Chernigov, Donetsk, Zaporozhye, and Kherson regions, as well as in the internal waters of the Azov-Kerch water area.
The governmental newspaper “Uryadovy Kuryer” on Wednesday, November 28 published decree No. 392 of the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, which enters into force the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine from November 26, 2018 “On amending the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine from November 26, 2018 ‘On emergency measures to ensure the state sovereignty and independence of Ukraine and the introduction of martial law in Ukraine’”. The change is that the duration of martial law was reduced to 30 days. In presidential decree No. 390 it was initially envisaged that the introduction of martial law throughout Ukraine would last for 60 days.
Decree No. 393/2018 “On the introduction of martial law in Ukraine” published on the website of the President stated that for the period of the legal regime of martial law the constitutional rights and freedoms of humans and citizens enshrined in articles 30–34, 38, 39, 41-44, and 53 of the Constitution of Ukraine may be limited.
In particular, the imposition of martial law may restrict the right to inviolability of his or her dwelling place (Article 30 of the Constitution of Ukraine) and the right to privacy of mail, telephone conversations, and other communications (Article 31), violate the prohibition of interference in the personal and family life of a citizen (Article 32), and refuse to give citizens guarantees of freedom of movement (Article 33). Also, Decree No. 393 also stipulates a restriction on the right to freedom of thought and speech, the freedom to express one’s views and beliefs (Article 34), the right to take part in the management of state affairs, referendums, etc., and to hold peaceful meetings and rallies (Articles 38-39). Articles 41-44 guarantee the right to own, use and dispose of one’s property, while article 53 guarantees the right to education.
In addition, according to the law “On the legal status of martial law” (Article 8), the military command retains the right to restrict rights and freedoms, including:
- Prohibition of peaceful assemblies, rallies, marches, demonstrations, and other mass events;
- Raising the issue of banning the activities of political parties and public associations;
- Regulating the work of telecommunications enterprises, printing enterprises, publishing houses, television and radio organisations, television and radio centers and other enterprises, institutions, organisations and institutions of culture and the media, as well as the use of local radio stations, television centers and printing houses for military needs and awareness-raising among the troops and the population;
- Seizure of telecommunication equipment, television, video and audio equipment, computers, as well as, if necessary, other technical means of communication from enterprises, institutions and organizations of all forms of ownership, and individual citizens.
The human rights activists of “Uspishna Varta” are also concerned about the possibility of extrajudicial arrests and the carrying out of searches and covert investigative actions (wiretapping/surveillance) without the authorization of investigating judges in formal circumstances in connection with the introduction of the military situation. According to Article 615 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine, within the territory (administrative area) where martial law or an emergency is in effect or a counter-terrorist operation, conducted, where an investigating judge is not able to exercise his powers within the time provided for by Articles 163, 164, 234, 247, and 248 of this Code as well as the powers as to imposing the measure of restraint in the form of 30 days of custody on persons who are suspected of having committed any of the offences under Articles 109—1141 , 258—2585 , 260—2631 , 294, 348, 349, 377-379, and 437-444 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, such powers are exercised by a respective state prosecutor.
Representatives of the authorities, including during the session of the National Security and Defence Council on the night of November 25, have already called to arrest so-called “agents of the Kremlin” – dissidents who do not agree with the policies of the current government and question the need for martial law. Recall that in Ukraine the journalists Kirill Vyshinsky, Pavel Volkov, Dmitry Vasilets, Ruslan Kotsaba, public figures, bloggers, and politicians were arrested and are (or were) in jail in connection with their professional activities under articles 109-114-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. In addition, the government has repeatedly stated the need to close down opposition TV channels and Internet websites, as well as a number of political parties and public organisations that broadcast ideas and messages that are in opposition to the authorities.
[Sergey Pashinsky suggests to charge Ukrainians who accuse Kiev of being aggressive towards Russia under article 111 of the Criminal Code (state treason)]
Human rights activists also demand from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to immediately inform the UN Secretary-General and foreign States participating in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights about restrictions on the human and civil rights and freedoms that Ukraine plans to deviate from due to martial law, about the limits of such deviations, and the reasons for making such a decision. Such an obligation is laid down in Article 24 of the Law of Ukraine “On the Legal Regime of Martial Law”. In addition, Ukraine must report the date of termination of such deviations from human rights obligations.
Let us recall that Article 22 of the Law “On the legal status of martial law” points to the inadmissibility of the use of the legal regime of martial law to seize power and violate the rights and freedoms of citizens, as well as the rights and legitimate interests of legal entities. The introduction of martial law may not be used as grounds to commit torture or for cruel or degrading treatment or punishment. Any attempt to use martial law to seize power entails liability under the law.
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