Racial discrimination in Ukraine: a work in progress

Jul 26, 2016

Ukrainian civil society assesses the extent to which Ukraine has complied with human rights standards set forth by the International Convention of the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), prepares for the Geneva review.

Kyiv, 26 July 2016 – Experts from the Office of the Ombudsperson, Ministries of Culture, Social Policy, and International Affairs, as well as leading human rights civil society groups convened today, upon UNDP and the Ombudsperson Office invitation, to examine Ukraine’s progress towards the elimination of racial discrimination, as laid out in the ICERD Convention.

A coalition of leading human rights groups presented its alternative report on Ukraine’s compliance with the Convention, emphasizing to State representatives some of the critical areas of improvement left unaddressed by Ukraine’s ICERD periodic report, that are likely to be challenged at the ICERD Committee’s 90th session taking place in Geneva from 2 to 26 Aug 2016.

Challenges ahead

These notably include: the poor system of registering and prosecuting hate crimes in Ukraine (only 3 crimes registered in 2012 vs. 19 assaults listed by non-governmental bodies), and a poor system of trial for such felonies, which led to only 7 court rulings from 2012 to 2016.

Other issues addressed by the alternative report include human rights challenges involving the Roma population, and in particular the access to official registration, education, medical services, and employment. Finally, the report also underlines risks that the current decentralisation reform and amalgamation of communities may pose to national minorities’ rights. 

As emphasized throughout the meeting by Yuliya Shcherbinina, UNDP Governance Analyst, "Respect for human rights and freedoms for all, without distinction as to race, ethnicity, language or religion must be ensured in Ukraine. The preparation of shadow reports to the UN Committee, gauging the status quo, offering a plan for positive change, and ultimately ensuring dialogue between civil society and the state, is crucial."

Ukrainian Ombudsperson, Valeriya Lutkovska, further stressed: “The work done by the civil society to deliver alternative views on the situation within the country is of the highest importance. Just as much as the necessity to adopt a concerted, tri-partite effort among the government, civil society, and the international community to monitor these issues closely and press for better delivery of duty-bearer’s commitments to all persons under the jurisdiction of Ukraine.

It is expected that the state report on ICERD will be discussed in Geneva on 11 and 12 August by the relevant Committee. In order to make the civic voices heard not only within the country but also by the international review bodies, UNDP will support participation of 3 CSOs in the Geneva session. Moreover, non-state human rights defenders are expected to brief the Committee on country-specific information and will partake in the state report consideration process.

 

Ratified by Ukraine in 1969, the Convention prohibits discrimination based on race, skin colour, descent, and national or ethnic origin. Throughout Ukraine’s independence, the country has already submitted 4 reports to the Committee and has demonstrated varied degrees of compliance with the Convention’s stipulations over time.

 

 

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