UN Human Rights Committee Reviews Ukraine

Premiere Human Rights Law Oversight Body Convenes to Assess Ukraine's Compliance with International Law

Advocates Report on Extreme Roma Rights Concerns

Budapest, Kyiv. The United Nations Human Rights Committee today reviews Ukraine's compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). In advance of today's hearing, the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) submitted written comments on the very troubling situation of Roma in Ukraine.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, the ERRC has undertaken extensive research, policy, law and training work in Ukraine due to the serious issues Roma face in Ukraine. Since 2003, with the support of the European Commission and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the ERRC has been involved in a large three-year human rights research, training and advocacy project in Ukraine, involving a number of local Romani organisations.

Roma in Ukraine are extremely vulnerable to infringements of fundamental human rights guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Matters documented in detail by the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and partner organisations in recent years include: (i) violence, including racially motivated violence and extreme forms of violence by state and non-state actors; (ii) racial targeting, racial profiling and racial discrimination in criminal justice matters, including the systematic data-basing of Roma by the police in Ukraine; (iii) racial discrimination in social and economic areas, including housing, health care, education, employment and social services; (iv) widespread lack of personal and other documents, effectively denying Roma the right to a legal personality, thwarting access to basic services, and hindering basic civil and political participation.

The Ukrainian government's report to the UN Human Rights Committee provides no information on any of these matters, and is therefore misleading at best. At points, the Government has made statements to the Committee which are patently untrue, as when, for example, at paragraph 356, the Government states that, "No reports or complaints regarding discrimination or persecution of members of ethnic minorities have been received by either the Ukrainian procurator general's office or the State Committee for Ethnic Minorities and Migration."

The ERRC submission presented to the Committee for today's review aims to provide a summary of ERRC documentation in a number of areas of relevance to Covenant law, including: 

  • Failure to Give Effect to the International Law Ban on Racial Discrimination
  • Compilation of Race-Based Identity Databases
  • Mass Searches
  • Physical Abuse / Torture
  • Presumption of Guilt
  • Failure to Investigate Complaints
  • Police Inaction in the Face of Mob Violence
  • Discrimination in Access to Social and Economic Services
  • Lack of Personal and Other Documents Haunting nearly all aspects of the human rights situation of Roma in Ukraine is a pattern of violence by public officials and private parties, rarely if ever provided with any form of adequate due legal remedy. The submission concludes with a number of recommendations to the Committee.

    Under the project noted above, today the ERRC and partners convened a training workshop in anti-discrimination law for Ukrainian judges and prosecutors, involving among others senior officials from the Council of Europe. It is hoped that this training, as well as today's UN Human Rights Committee review, will constitute steps toward improvement of the human rights situation of Roma in Ukraine.

    The full text of the ERRC submission to the UN Human Rights Committee is available at: http://errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2135

    * Zola Kondur (ERRC Ukraine Project Coordinator): zola.kondur@errc.org, (380) 67 24 97 119
    * Claude Cahn (ERRC Programmes Director): ccahn@errc.org, (36 20) 98 36 455

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