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Human rights organizations call on the Verkhovna Rada to stop politicizing the Ombudsman's institution and to hold independent competition for the position

31.05.2022, 14:49

Over 30 human rights organizations call on the Verkhovna Rada to stop politicizing and trying to destroy the independence of the Ombudsman's institution and to create conditions for an independent competition for this position in compliance with all international standards.

The according statement was posted on the website of ZMINA Human Rights Center.

On May 30, the current Verkhovna Rada Ombudswoman for Human Rights Lyudmila Denisova said she had learned of the decision to dismiss her, made at a meeting held by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. For this, she said, signatures were currently being collected in the parliamentary Human Rights Committee to declare distrust towards her.

A recently passed bill, which human rights activists call unconstitutional, enables such dismissal of Denisova. According to it, the Verkhovna Rada can declare distrust towards any official appointed by the parliament, including those whose dismissal grounds are exhaustively described in the Constitution or relevant laws.

At an urgent briefing on May 30, Denisova called the actions aimed at her dismissal an illegal interference with her work.

The current Ombudswoman was appointed in March 2018, but this was a violation of the procedure, as it happened without transparency or consulting with human rights organizations, which were sceptical of her candidacy. Denisova also did not have proper experience in human rights work.

Human rights activists have already demanded an investigation into Denisova's activities, in particular because of the phone conversation recordings published by NABU, probably between Head of the KDAC Pavlo Vovk and other colleagues. The records pointed to interference with the work of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine. In these records, Vovk says that "this Ombudswoman's balls are in our grip."

According to the materials, Denisova agreed to dismiss Andriy Kozlov, a HQCJ member appointed earlier in accordance with her quota, and to replace him with a more "loyal" candidate in exchange for the cancellation of the protocols on the finding of false information in a declaration submitted by her.

In a statement, at least 30 human rights groups said that even despite their regular criticism of Denisova's work, the attempts to remove her through a vote of distrust posed a threat to the entire state system for protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.

"In the context of russia's armed aggression against Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada Ombudsman for Human Rights is of particular importance as an independent and apolitical institutio," the signatories stated.

Following Denisova's publication about her possible dismissal, the media published a possible list of candidates for the Ombudsman's position, citing sources.

Among them, for example, is the infamous MP Mykola Tyshchenko, MP Maryana Bezuhla, who was among the authors of a bill to allow commanders to kill their subordinates during the war, MP Oleksandr Kachura and the President's Adviser-Commissioner for the Rights of Defenders of Ukraine Olena Verbytska.

Human rights activists insist that the appointment of an ombudsman without holding an open competition in accordance with international standards will only exacerbate the current problems that they have been talking about all these years.

"The person who will hold the position of Parliamentary Ombudsman for Human Rights must meet the criteria of professionalism, integrity and impartiality, have experience in the field of human rights, and knowledge of its relationship with international humanitarian law," they said.

We remind that at the end of last year, the issue of Denisova's dismissal has already been discussed in the Parliament; however, back then, the deputies decided not to create a TIC to check for possible oath violations by her.

As IMI reported, on May 25, 2022, female Ukrainian media workers called on the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights Lyudmila Denisova to abstain from excessively detailed descriptions of sexual crimes during the war, as well as to verify and carefully consider every word to avoid sensationalism in the reports.

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