Photo credit: Tetiana Sheburenkova / UNDP Ukraine

Civil servants value the same rights and freedoms as all Ukrainians, and are ready to use more legal mechanisms to stand up for their own rights. But the willingness of some of them to justify restrictions on the rights of certain social groups demonstrates that there is still a need to improve civil servants’ awareness about human rights.

Kyiv, 17 May 2019 On 17 May 2019 the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ukraine, together with the National Agency of Ukraine for Civil Service, the Human Rights Center “ZMINA”, and the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation, presented the results of a poll entitled “What Civil Servants Know and Think about Human Rights.” The study was conducted in 2018 as a part of a nationwide sociological study called “What Ukrainians Know and Think About Human Rights: Progress Study (2016-2018).”

According to the poll, civil servants value freedom (91%) and justice (84%) the most, which matches the results of the nationwide polling: for 86% and 70% of Ukrainians, freedom and justice respectively are their top-ranked values.

“Civil servants are the foot soldiers of the state, so it’s gratifying that they value freedom and justice so highly,” said UNDP Resident Representative to Ukraine Dafina Gercheva.

“If civil servants didn’t hold such values dear, how could we expect the generals of the state – the politicians – to do so? Yet the results of this poll show there’s still a lot to be done to promote human rights values among Ukraine’s civil servants.”

More than 58% of public servants think that serving people and ensuring they can exercise their human rights are the main goals of the civil service.

“The study shows that public servants respect human rights, but still there is a need to deepen their knowledge to ensure that the rights and freedoms of Ukrainian citizens are protected,” said Head of the National Agency of Ukraine for Civil Service Kostiantyn Vashchenko.

“The civil service reform stipulated a lifelong learning principle, and every year all civil servants go on training programmes aimed at raising their competences. Together with UNDP, we have started developing a human rights course for civil servants.”

The study revealed that civil servants are more active than other citizens when it comes to fighting for their rights.

“More than 71% of respondents said they had tried to stand up for their rights, choosing such methods as contacting the police (38%), the local authorities (27 %), and the courts (24 %),” said Human Rights Center “ZMINA” Board Head Tetiana Pechonchyk.

“This points to the fact that civil servants know about their rights and ways to protect them,” added Pechonchyk.

With regard to discrimination, more than 78% of the civil servants polled acknowledged that this is a serious problem for Ukraine, although quite a high percentage of those polled were still ready to restrict the rights of certain social groups.

“This is a nationwide tendency,” said Andriy Sukharyna, an expert at the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation. “Сivil servants turned out to be more tolerant compared to nationwide polling, but they still showed readiness to restrict the rights of some social groups, such as people with certain political opinions (28 %), drug addicts (19 %), and members of the LGBTQI community (13 %).”

“In this regard, raising awareness about human rights is very important,” Sukharyna said.

Background:

The sociological survey was conducted by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation in cooperation with the Human Rights Center “ZMINA”, and with support from UNDP Ukraine. The polling of the civil servants was done in as part of the second nationwide study on human rights in Ukraine. The first study was conducted in 2016. The initiative is being implemented in within the Human Rights for Ukraine project, which is being implemented by the UNDP Ukraine with financial support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. For more information about UNDP, visit http://www.ua.undp.org

Media inquiries: Yuliia Samus, UNDP Communications Specialist, yuliia.samus@undp.org, +38 097 139 14 75

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