Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Brief legal analysis: Violation of human rights in recent bills signed by the President of Ukraine

The article is describing how the procedures for the consideration of draft laws (bills) and adoption of laws and  were violated by the Verkovna Rada (the Ukrainian Parliament) at the Plenary Meeting on January 16, 2014, as well as violations of International Treaties and Domestic Legislation.

Procedural violations consist of: order of hearings, voting and signing in violation of the established Parliamentary Procedure of the documents in question, that shows unprecedented fact of adoption of volumetric laws directly influencing numerous areas of social life in just three days.

Violations of International Treaties and Domestic Legislation consist of: severe violation of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, severe violations of freedom of expression and freedom of information, severe violation of the Right to a fair trial.

The right to freedom of peaceful assembly has been previously established by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Constitution of Ukraine.

For example, the proposed amendments to Article 185-1 of the Code of Ukraine on Administrative Offences provides for more strict administrative liability for:

·                Both organizers and participants of peaceful assemblies for, among others, organizing of peaceful protests which do not comply with requirements of the established procedure.  However, no such established procedure that is applicable to the peaceful assembly currently exists. Liability allows for up to 15 days jail time. This lays grounds for potential mass arrests of participants of peaceful protests based on subjective and unclear grounds.

·                Participants of peaceful assemblies may be jailed for 15 days for wearing a mask or a helmet that prevents identification of a person, or for wearing clothing “which resembles uniform of law enforcement agencies”. The arrest may take place without the person having any harmful intentions or participating in such activities. This new restriction prevents peaceful protesters from anonymous participation in peaceful assemblies.

Subject to a lofty level of corrupt practice in Ukraine (especially – in investigating bodies, public prosecution and courts), introduction of criminal proceeding in absentia creates substantial and real menace, massive breach of human rights stated above, and in the first place – concerning protesters. Considering the high level of corrupt practices, it is expected the decisions on criminal punishment (including imprisonment) may be pronounced in short terms without informing about the availability of the crime.

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