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Meeting in Kharkiv during the 2004 Orange Revolution

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Human rights in Ukraine are better than those in most former Soviet republics. Ukraine has been labelled as "free" by organizations such as Freedom House.[1] In there 2009 report on Ukraine they stated: "Ukraine has one of the most vibrant civil societies in the region. Citizens are increasingly taking issues into their own hands, protesting against unwanted construction, and exposing corruption. There are no limits on NGO activities. Trade unions function, but strikes and worker protests are infrequent, even though dissatisfaction with the state of economic affairs was pervasive in the fall of 2008. Factory owners are still able to pressure their workers to vote according to the owners’ preferences."[1]

On October 20, 2009 experts from the Council of Europe stated "in the last five years the experts from the Council of Europe who monitor Ukraine have expressed practically no concerns regarding the important [process of the] formation of a civil society in Ukraine. Ukraine is one of the democratic states in Europe that have securing human rights as a national policy, as well as securing the rights of national minorities."[2]


International and European human rights treaties


Ukraine is a party of the following international treaties

Ukraine signed but not yet ratified

Ukraine is a party of the following European treaties


Since 2005 Ukraine continued developing the democratic institutions and processes which the 2004 "Orange Revolution" had set in motion.

The 26 March, 2006 parliamentary elections, by assessment of both international and domestic observers, were in general free, fair and democratic.

International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHFHR) reports that during the year laws were developed aimed at fulfilling Ukraine’s commitments to the Council of Europe, as well as under the EU-Ukraine Action Plan. In addition, dozens of international documents in the area of human rights were ratified, including the European Social Charter and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, as well as all supplementary protocols to the European Convention on Human Rights.[3]

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), "while civil society institutions operate mostly without government interference, police abuse and violations of the rights of vulnerable groups … continue to mar Ukraine’s human rights record."[4]

The right to fair trial

Amendments to the constitution, which came into force, were detrimental for fair trial in that they re-introduced the so-called general supervision by the prosecutor’s office. Other serious problems included lengthy periods for review of cases because the courts were overloaded; infringement of equality of arms; non-observance of the presumption of innocence; the failure to execute court rulings; and high level of corruption in courts.[5]

According to Freedom House the judiciary has become more efficient and less corrupt since the Orange Revolution.[1]

Media Freedom and Freedom of Information

In Ukraine’s provinces numerous, anonymous attacks and threats persisted against journalists, who investigated or exposed corruption or other government misdeeds. The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists concluded in 2007 that these attacks, and police reluctance in some cases to pursue the perpetrators, were “helping to foster an atmosphere of impunity against independent journalists.”[6][7]

Ukraine's ranking in Reporters Without Borders´s Press Freedom Index has in the latest years been around the 90th spot (89 in 2009[8], 87 in 2008[9]), while it occupied the 112th spot in 2002[10] and even the 132th spot in 2004[11].

During a opinion poll in October 2009 49.2% of the respondents said that Ukraine's level of freedom of speech is sufficient, and 19.6% said the opposite. Another 24.2% said that there is too much of freedom of speech in Ukraine. According to the data, 62% of respondents in Western Ukraine consider the level of freedom of speech sufficient, and in the central and southeastern regions the figures were 44% and 47%, respectively.[12]

In December 2009 during the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election campaign incumbent Prime Minister of Ukraine and presidential candidate[13] Yulia Tymoshenko complained Ukrainian TV channels are manipulating the consciousness of citizens in favor of financial and oligarchic groups.[14]

Torture and Conditions in Detention

Reports of torture and ill-treatment by police persisted, as did unduly long periods of pretrial custody. Of major concern were the inhumane conditions in detention with overcrowded cells, appalling sanitary conditions and the lack of appropriate medical care. During the year numerous cases of group suicide attempts, took place in some penal colonies.[15],[5],[16]

Human Rights Abuses and the HIV/AIDS Epidemic

The Ukrainian government has taken a number of positive steps to fight HIV/AIDS, chiefly in the area of legislative and policy reform. But these important commitments are being undermined by widespread human rights abuses against drug users, sex workers, and people living with HIV/AIDS in the criminal justice and health systems.[6]

Migrants and Refugees

The Ukrainian asylum system barely functions due to a highly decentralized structure spanning several government agencies and departments. Process to create a single migration system has been slow; political interference in the system is common and abuses of migrants and asylum seekers’ rights continue.[17]

Human Trafficking

There has been a growing awareness of human trafficking as a human rights issue in Europe. The end of communism has contributed to an increase in human trafficking, with the majority of victims being women forced into prostitution.[18][19] The Ukraine is a country of origin and country of transit for persons, primarily women and children, trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. The Government of Ukraine has shown some commitment to combat trafficking but has been criticised for not fully complying with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and inadequate trafficking prevention efforts.[20]

Human trafficking is illegal, however the majority of convicted traffickers received probation instead of prison sentences. The government adopted a multi-year policy to fight human trafficking, however Ukraine remained a country of transit and destination for large numbers of trafficked persons. [21]

Ukrainian human rights organizations

International human rights organizations cooperating in Ukraine


External links


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