UKRAINE: Amnesty International urges new parliament to address appalling human rights record

Amnesty International is calling on Ukraine’s newly elected parliament to address urgently the country’s appalling human rights record as the Verhkovna Rada opens its first session today.

Since Ukraine gained independence in 1991, the country has made some progress towards protecting human rights. However, rapid acceleration is needed if the country is to fulfil the commitments it has made to the European Union, United Nations and Council of Europe, Amnesty says in an open letter to Ukrainian MPs.

Ukrainian politicians cannot seriously expect closer integration with Europe as long as their citizens continue to be routinely abused by police, imprisoned because of their political affiliation, or discriminated against because of their gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation, the letter says.

Amnesty continues to urge the Ukrainian government to solve the problem of torture and other ill-treatment by police, and to establish a fully resourced independent agency to investigate all allegations of human rights violations by police officers.

Police are encouraged to torture detainees by a climate of impunity, caused by a lack of adequate investigations and prosecutions of those officers who abuse the people they are supposed to protect. The new parliament is now accountable for police reform and needs to protect all Ukrainian citizens from torture.

The letter also calls on politicians to throw out a draft law which seeks to outlaw ‘homosexual propaganda’. The law passed its first reading during the previous parliament despite the fact that if enacted it would breach Ukraine’s commitments to uphold the right to freedom of expression.

It also makes recommendations on reforming the system for dealing with refugees and asylum-seekers in Ukraine. Parliament needs to amend the law in line with international standards so that refugees and asylum-seekers are no longer returned to countries where they face torture or other ill-treatment.

Along with the letter, Amnesty is delivering recommendations on how to address rights abuses in the country to each of Ukraine’s 445 members of parliament, along with a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Please see also:
Amnesty International’s open letter to Ukraine’s new parliament

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