The Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights – the Ukrainian Model of Ombudsman

The Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights – the Ukrainian Model of Ombudsman

The historical experience of other countries was taken very much into consideration when the ombudsman institution was introduced in Ukraine. Under Article 101 of the Ukrainian Constitution the establishment of the new body – the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights – is intended for parliamentary control over the observance of constitutional human and citizens’ rights and freedoms. Article 55 of the Constitution proclaims the right of everyone to appeal to the Commissioner for Human Rights for the protection of his rights. The inclusion of this provision in the article of the Constitution, which provides for the basic legal mechanisms of protection of human rights and freedoms, speaks of the constitutional importance of the Commissioner in the control over compliance with human rights and freedoms. The office of Commissioner for Human Rights is an integral element of the constitutional system of protection of human and citizens’ rights, which includes primarily the courts, the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, and international judicial and other bodies, of which Ukraine is a member or participant.

When the Ukrainian model of the Commissioner for Human Rights was devised, allowance was made for the prevalent national and legal traditions, the system of state power, as well as the expertise of the ombudsmen elsewhere, specifically in the Scandinavian nations and in the countries that embarked on the road of reform – Poland, Hungary and Russia.

The Ukrainian Constitution and its derivative Law On the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights of December 23, 1997 provided for creating a “strong” model of ombudsman, which is characterized by the following attributes:

high constitutional status of the Commissioner for Human Rights, as secured in articles 88, 85 and 101 of the Ukrainian Constitution;

independence of the Commissioner from any body of state authority or local self-government and their officials;

broad jurisdiction of the Commissioner that extends to bodies of state authority, including courts, as well as to bodies of local self-government and their officials;

ample powers for inquiries and inspections, including on his own volition, and for constant monitoring of compliance with human rights and freedoms;

right to initiate petitions that are binding for review, along with recommendations on rectifying the detected violations of human rights and freedoms by bodies of state authority, local self-government, NGOs, enterprises, and institutions regardless of their form of ownership, as well as their officers and officials;

opportunity of everyone to appeal directly to the Commissioner;

flexible and informal procedure and freedom of action in inspection of cases.

The Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights is a classical example of a parliamentary ombudsman, since he is elected by Parliament (Article 5 of the relevant Law) by secret ballot, thereby ensuring the high status and legitimacy of the office as well as guaranteeing his independence from all branches of state authority, the legislature included. Notably, the Commissioner’s term of office does not coincide with the term of legislature of the Ukrainian Parliament (Article 5 of the Law).

Both the Constitution and the Law stipulate the introduction of a single model of Commissioner for Human Rights. Judging from experience, such a model is the best possible additional guarantee for the high status of this office in a country that is in transition. The Law also provides for the Commissioner’s right to appoint his representatives by territorial or functional characteristics within the limits of funds allocated by Parliament.

Besides, the Commissioner is vested with additional guarantees of independence – bodies of state authority, bodies of local self-government, NGOs, enterprises, institutions and organizations irrespective of their forms of ownership as well as their officials are prohibited from interfering in the activity of the Commissioner, including the prohibition from demanding from the Commissioner any explanations about the essence of the cases under his current or future scrutiny (Article 20 of the Law).

The powers of the Commissioner may not be terminated or restricted in the event of expiry of the legislature of Parliament or its dissolution (self-dissolution), declaration of martial law or state of emergency in the country or in its specific localities (Article 4 of the Law).

The Law also clearly defines the restricted range of reasons by which the Commissioner’s authority may be terminated or when he may be dismissed from office (Article 9 of the Law).

During the discharge of his official duties the Commissioner may not be held criminally liable, given administrative punishment by judicial procedure, detained, arrested, searched or be subjected to personal examination without the consent of Parliament. No one except the Procurator General of Ukraine may initiate criminal proceedings against the Commissioner (Article 20 of the Law).

Financial self-sufficiency is an important guarantee of independence in the Commissioner’s discharge of his duties. The operation of the Commissioner’s office is funded from the state budget every year. After drafting the institution’s budget, the Commissioner submits it for the approval of Parliament (Article 12 of the Law).

The authority of the Ukrainian Ombudsman is rather wide. Since the Law does not have a single exception when definite officials would be out the Commissioner’s jurisdiction, he may exercise control over the activity of all officials and officers of the bodies of state authority and local self-government, courts included. As independent institutions, courts owe obedience only to the law. Therefore, the Commissioner’s control over the activity of courts essentially does not concern court judgments, but rather violations of the terms of considering cases and failures to comply with procedural standards. The Commissioner’s jurisdiction also extends to other persons who in one way or another perform the functions of state authority.

The Commissioner conducts inquiries and investigations on the basis of petitions by Ukrainian citizens, foreigners, stateless persons and their representatives, MPs, and of his own volition. Under the Law such petitions should be submitted to the Commissioner throughout one year from the date the violations of human and citizens’ rights have been detected.

For the performance of his legally stipulated functions the Commissioner is vested with a broad range of rights, namely to:

be received, without any delay, by the President, Chairman of Parliament, Prime Minister, chairmen of the Constitutional, Supreme and higher specialized courts, the Procurator General, chairmen of other state bodies, bodies of local self-government, NGOs, enterprises, institutions, irrespective of their forms of ownership, as well as their officials and officers;

visit, without hindrance, any body of state authority, body of local self-government, enterprise, institution, organization, including penal institutions and psychiatric hospitals, interview the persons staying there, and obtain information about their custody and upkeep;

invite officials and officers, Ukrainian citizens, foreigners, and stateless persons to receive oral or written explanations with regard to cases under investigation;

read documents, classified ones included, at bodies of state authority, bodies of local self-government, NGOs, enterprises, institutions, organizations, bodies of prosecution, as well as cases filed in court;

attend sessions of courts of all instances, including in camera, provided consent is granted by the entity of law in whose interest the judicial proceedings have been ruled to be held in camera, personally or through his representative take part in judicial proceedings in cases and under procedure established by law, and also to appeal to courts for the protection of rights and freedoms of persons who cannot do this on their own owing to conditions of health or other reasons (Article 13 of the Law).

After investigating into a case, the Commissioner has the right to forward instruments of response to respective bodies for them to take appropriate measures within one month, if violations of human rights and freedoms were revealed during the investigation. The instruments of response are as follows:

appeals of the Commissioner which, in compliance with Article 15 of the Law On the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, are forwarded to bodies of state authority, bodies of local self-government, NGOs, enterprises, organizations, and institutions, irrespective of their forms of ownership, and to their officials and officers to rectify injustice or a defective administrative practice;

constitutional appeals of the Commissioner submitted to the Constitutional Court of Ukraine that has to rule whether a law or other legal act of Parliament, an act of the President or Cabinet of Ministers, or a legal act of the Autonomous Republic of Crimean conform to the Ukrainian Constitution (constitutionality); and to receive an official interpretation of the Ukrainian Constitution and Ukrainian laws in compliance with articles 13 and 15 of the Law On the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights and articles 40 and 41 of the Law On the Constitutional Court of Ukraine;

appeal of the Commissioner to the Supreme Council of Justice – a special type of appeal stipulated in articles 30 and 38 of the Law On the Supreme Council of Justice on the dismissal of a judge from office or disciplinary action against judges of the Supreme Court and higher specialized courts.

Another mark of the Commissioner’s status is that he does not belong to any branch of state power, but is a body sui generis, i.e. unique (of its own kind). The exercise of his mandate in Ukraine under the current circumstances becomes the more complicated, because the Commissioner for Human Rights does not fit into the traditionally existing system of authority. Therefore, at the stage of the institution’s evolvement the Commissioner is inevitably seeking the best possible mechanisms of interaction with the administrative authority while simultaneously retaining his independent status.

The main principles of the Commissioner’s interaction with other bodies do not entail a review of the competence of state bodies that ensure the protection and restoration of violated human rights and freedoms. The Commissioner operates with the means and methods all his own, but the recommendatory nature of his appeals do not reduce his opportunity to exercise influence over the restoration of rights and freedoms which is possible, if the respective officials attain a high level of legal culture.

Apart from direct consideration of complaints on human rights violations, the Ukrainian ombudsman model also provides for monitoring compliance with protection of human and citizens’ rights and freedoms by bodies of state authority and local self-government, NGOs, enterprises, institutions and organizations irrespective of their forms of ownership, as well as their officials and officers who through their actions (omission) have violated these rights. The results of such monitoring and the comprehensive evaluation of the status of human rights compliance in the country are then presented to the Parliament as annual reports as prescribed by Item 17, Article 85 of the Ukrainian Constitution and Article 18 of the Law On the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights. The reports also have to comment on the flaws the Commissioner detected in national legislation concerning human rights and freedoms, i.e. the Commissioner is actually vested with the binding duty to provide an expert opinion on legislation in this area.

Operative legislation sets definite binding requirements to the substance of the Commissioner’s annual reports. According to Article 18 of the Law On the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, the annual report must refer to instances of violated rights in regard to which the Commissioner effected respective measures, to the results of investigations conducted throughout the year, as well as to the conclusions and recommendations on improving safeguards of human rights and freedoms.

Apart from annual reports, the Commissioner, when necessary, may submit to Parliament a special report on specific issues of compliance with human and citizens’ rights and freedoms.

On the basis of the annual and special reports the Parliament adopts a resolution. Annual and special reports, along with Parliament’s resolution, are put out in the official publications of Parliament.

Besides, the Commissioner is entitled under the law to take part in preparing reports on human rights which Ukraine submits to international organizations in compliance with the international treaties ratified by Parliament (Article 19 of the Law). This right extends the Commissioner’s legal opportunities to exercise control over Ukraine’s adherence to international legal obligations and also to influence the process of bringing Ukrainian legislation into conformity with the standards and principles of international law. All this promotes greater transparency of the information which the government submits to international convention bodies.

Notably, the efforts of the Commissioner for Human Rights are focused on yet another important exercise of parliamentary control – higher legal awareness of Ukraine’s population (Item 7, Article 3 of the Law). Only by changing the legal conscience and culture of society in general and its individual members in particular will it be possible to assert a new system of values based on the principles of democracy, rule of law and respect to human rights.

In exercising its functions, the office of the Commissioner for Human rights applies different techniques: issues regular information about the results of its activity through the printed mass media, radio and television, distributes information of an informative and legal nature, and counsels complainants on legal issues.

A lot of effort goes into spreading knowledge about international standards in human rights that are integral components of Ukrainian legislation. By promoting these standards, the Commissioner thereby lays the groundwork of a new legal conscience not only for average citizens, but also for the representatives of state authority and creates the preconditions for the extensive application of international law provisions in the national legal system.

Any model of the ombudsman institution is based on the high prestige of the ombudsman as an individual. A distinctive feature of the Ukrainian model is reflected, apart from everything else, in the Commissioner’s duty to be guided by the Ukrainian Constitution and laws as well as the laws of justice and personal conscience (Article 7 of the Law) while pursuing an independent and impartial activity in the interests of people and citizens. This is emphasized in the oath which the first Commissioner for Human Rights took on April 14, 1998. In practice it means that the Commissioner takes constant guidance from both the principles of the supremacy of law and the supremacy of human rights, at the same time offering a model of legal and moral behavior that would make better the laws in effect to date.

The Ukrainian ombudsman is vested with powers and competence similar to those of the majority of the world’s ombudsmen. However, some ombudsmen have broader powers. Earlier it was mentioned that Poland’s commissioner for civil rights protection may act as a public prosecutor in administrative and civil proceedings, while the ombudsman of Sweden can initiate criminal proceedings against any official, if there is a sound reason to do so. The Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner of Human Rights does not have such authority. But judging from the first years of the Commissioner’s work, there is a need to grant such powers. It is especially true when viewed against the vaguely defined status of the Commissioner in criminal and civil proceedings and his lack of the right to file a cessational appeal against court decisions when he believes that the law was transgressed during the consideration of a case.

By all the logic of the foregoing, the “strong” model of the Ukrainian ombudsman enshrined in the Law on the Commissioner for Human Rights has to be backed up by a series of procedural legal rules in respective codes and legislation.

In pursuance of the concluding provisions of the Law On the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine had to submit (by February 1, 1998) for the Parliament’s consideration proposals on bringing the country’s legislation and the government’s decision into conformity with the Law on the Commissioner as well as to have the ministries and other bodies of the executive review and annul their regulations that are inconsistent with this Law. But it was only after the Commissioner’s insistence that the government instructed the Ministry of Justice to draft the Law On Introducing Amendments and Additions to Some Legislative Acts of Ukraine in Connection with the Adoption of the Law On the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights. The amendments and additions relate mostly to the procedural rules of operative legislation to entitle the Commissioner to defend human rights in civil, administrative and criminal proceedings as well as at penitentiary establishments. It is hoped that this issue will meet with the understanding and support by the MPs during the review of this Law, the provisions of which are aimed primarily at a more effective protection of human rights and freedoms in Ukraine. 

 

The Authorized Human Rights Representative of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine

The institution of the Authorized Human Rights Representative of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine was established in accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine, adopted in 1996, and became an integral part of the constitutional protection of human rights and freedoms. The Constitution of Ukraine specifies that the Authorized Human Rights Representative exercises parliamentary control over the observance of constitutional human and citizens’ rights and freedoms (Art. 101) and guarantees everyone the right to appeal for the protection of his or her rights to the Ombudsman (Art. 55).

The Law of Ukraine "On the Authorized Human Rights Representative of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine" adopted on December 23, 1997 provides for the establishment of the classical model of the Ombudsman with powers and jurisdiction typical for the majority of the Ombudsmen of the world.

However, the Ukrainian model has some features characteristic of the more powerful models of ombudsman institutions. In particular, the Ombudsman of Ukraine has a broad jurisdiction that applies to both public authorities, including courts and local governments, their officers and officials; the authority to initiate proceedings and conduct inspections to detect violations of human rights and appeal to the authorities for the restoration of rights; monitors the status of the observation of human rights and freedoms; has the right to initiate mandatory submissions with recommendations to eliminate the revealed violations of human rights and freedoms by the public and local authorities, associations of citizens, enterprises, institutions and organizations regardless of ownership, as well as their officials.

The Ukrainian Ombudsman is elected by Parliament by secret ballot, which guarantees his/her independence of all branches of government. He/she also has the additional independence guarantees set forth by the Law, particularly, the prohibition of interference with his/her activities by public authorities, local authorities, public associations, enterprises, institutions, organizations and their officials.

The Law of Ukraine "On the Authorized Human Rights Representative of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine" also clearly defines the list of reasons for the termination of office or removal from office. It is also determined that the powers of the Ombudsman cannot be terminated or restricted in the event of the termination of the powers of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine or its dissolution, the introduction of martial law or a state of emergency in Ukraine or regions thereof.

Financial independence is an important guarantee of the independence of the Ukrainian Ombudsman during the execution of his/her duties. The Ombudsman gets funding directly from the State Budget of Ukraine as indicated in a separate item.

To perform statutory functions, the Ombudsman has a broad set of rights, namely:

– immediate reception by the President of Ukraine, the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, the Prime Minister, the Chairmen of the Constitutional, Supreme and high specialized courts of Ukraine, the General Prosecutor of Ukraine, heads of other public agencies, local authorities, associations of citizens, enterprises, institutions and organizations;

–  free access to any public authorities, local authorities, enterprises, institutions and organizations, including places of detention of persons, institutions of the penitentiary system, psychiatric hospitals, survey of persons placed in such institutions and receipt of information about their detention conditions;

– invitation of officials, Ukrainian citizens, foreigners and stateless persons to obtain their oral or written explanations about the circumstances of a case;

– access to the documents, including confidential ones, held by public and local authorities, associations of citizens, enterprises, institutions, organizations, prosecution institutions, including cases brought before the courts;

– attend court sessions of all levels, including closed hearings, subject to the approval of the right holder in whose interest the trial is declared closed; either personally or through a representative, participate in the proceedings in cases and manner established by law; take legal recourse with the statements on human and citizens’ rights and freedoms on behalf of persons, who for health or other reasons cannot do this themselves.

On April 14, 1998, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine elected the first Authorized Human Rights Representative in the history of Ukraine - Nina Karpachova. Her candidacy was voted for by 276 of 450 Ukrainian People's Deputies, members of the legislature. In 2003 and 2007 N. Karpachova again received a vote of confidence and was re-elected to this post by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

The institution of the Authorized Human Rights Representative was established and consolidated in Ukraine in the absence of proper support by the public agencies of Ukraine, which in accordance with applicable law were obliged to provide relevant conditions for the activities of this institution. Despite this, since the early days of her work the Ombudsman of Ukraine has sought to help all those who have applied to her and needed to protect their violated rights.

The procedure for applying to the Authorized Human Rights Representative is the most democratic and accessible one: anyone can apply in writing, at a personal meeting at the public office of the Ombudsman, by calling a hotline working around the clock or by e-mail. More than 1.1 million people have addressed the Authorized Human Rights Representative since she came into office. Every second application reports on violations of civil rights, particularly about judicial red tape, violation of the right to judicial protection, improper execution of court decisions and detention conditions. Every third statement applies to violations of the citizens’ socio-economic rights: late payment of wages, unfair dismissal, violations of the right to social protection, healthcare, medical aid, housing and land. Over 13% of applications refer to violations of personal rights, in particular the use of violence and torture by law enforcement agencies.

The Ombudsman monitors compliance with human rights and freedoms, which results in a comprehensive assessment and recommendations to authorities submitted to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in the form of annual reports of the Authorized Human Rights Representative in accordance with clause 15 of Art. 85 of the Constitution of Ukraine.

Depending on the observation of the constitutional rights and freedoms in the country, the Ombudsman of Ukraine determines priorities of activities. One of these priorities is the eradication of poverty, which is a grossly violation of the human right to a dignified life. In 2000 Ombudsman Karpachova was the first in the country, who publicly declared that the reduction of poverty should be a priority for all governing institutions, because poverty makes it impossible to exercise the majority of constitutional rights. Her insistent position actually forced the authorities not only to admit this serious problem in Ukraine, but also to search for solutions to it, developing a government program at the same time.

On March 24, 2010, in the first submission to the newly elected President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, she proposed a new Poverty Reduction Strategy in Ukraine, which had to be based on the reduction of the drastic difference of income between the rich and the poor, ensuring the right of everyone to more equitable access to national resources.

The inability to secure a decent living by honest work at home makes millions of Ukrainians seek a better life for themselves abroad. In April 2003, at the plenary session of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine N. Karpachova presented a Special Report on: "The State of the Observance and Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms of Ukrainian Citizens Abroad". The Report was a generalized response of the Ombudsman to numerous violations of the rights of Ukrainian citizens during their stay abroad. It contains not only a comprehensive analysis of the problem, but also recommendations and proposals that should help to strengthen the protection of the rights of Ukrainian citizens abroad and develop a long-term state migration policy from the perspectives of global development, the interests of Ukraine and its citizens. The submission of this document resulted in a response from high-level government officials and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved measures to implement the recommendations of the Special Report.

To strengthen the protection of citizens’ rights the Ombudsman of Ukraine signed cooperation agreements in the field of the protection of human rights with the Ombudsmen from Russia, Kazakhstan, Poland, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Spain, Portugal, France and Argentina.

The Authorized Human Rights Representative consistently attracts the attention of authorities and society as a whole to the protection of freedom of speech in the country, because, as before, Ukrainian journalists very often suffer from pursuit and violent acts.

Having initiated proceedings in the case of the disappearance of journalist Georgy Gongadze in September 2000, for the first time in Ukrainian justice, Authorized Human Rights Representative Karpachova acted as a participant in the trial and defended the right of the journalists’ mother Lesya Gongadze to be recognized as the offended party in the criminal case. The viewpoint of the Ombudsman of Ukraine in this case remains unchanged: "The case cannot be considered closed, until all persons involved in the crime against Georgy Gongadze are prosecuted".

An extremely sensitive issue in Ukraine is the violation of the right to a fair trial. Over the years, the institution of the Ombudsman has received more than 100,000 of applications on the violation of citizens’ rights to judicial protection. First and foremost, the people complain about the violation of the right to the timely and due consideration of the case by the court, the injustice of court decisions and their improper execution.

The Ombudsman of Ukraine believes that it is difficult to hope for a radical improvement of the observation of human rights without the consistent implementation of comprehensive judicial reform. The Authorized Human Rights Representative, N. Karpachova, states her viewpoint for reform of the judiciary in annual and special reports, speeches at parliamentary hearings on issues of justice and congresses of the Ukrainian judges.

This important matter began to be settled in 2010. According to the Edict of the President, the Working Group on Judicial Reform was established, of which the Authorized Human Rights Representative was a member. The achievements of this group, including the proposals of the Ombudsman, laid the basis for the adoption by the Verkhovna Rada of the Law of Ukraine "On the Judicial System and the Status of Judges" in July 2010, which is fundamental for court proceedings. However, the Ombudsman of Ukraine feels that this is only the beginning of judicial reform. There are still many problems which require urgent solutions.

Unfortunately, the shameful practice of abuse and torture by law enforcement agencies is not eradicated in Ukraine. Since its establishment, the institution of Ombudsman has had a tough and consistent stand against this shameful phenomenon. In 2000, challenging the whole law enforcement system, N. Karpachova filed a lawsuit against the Security Service of Ukraine and the Prosecutor’s Office on behalf of the disabled parents of a 26-year old worker, Yuriy Mozola, who was tortured to death in SSU custody in the Lviv oblast, whom law enforcement officers wanted to blame for all the murders committed by serial killer Onopriyenko, who killed 53 people. According to the decision delivered by the Frankivsk District Court of Lviv, the parents of the deceased were awarded UAH 130,000 for moral damage.

On the suggestion of the Authorized Human Rights Representative on July 21, 2006 Ukraine ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Ombudsman demanded that authorities perform one of the main provisions of the Optional Protocol – the establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism against Torture as a public authority with a special status.

The Authorized Human Rights Representative comprehensively monitors observation of human rights in places of isolation from society, primarily using such a powerful tool as "on the spot visits ". It is the Ombudsman of Ukraine, who gave publicity to the matter through attracting the media to such inspections. During the activity of the institution of Ombudsman together with specialists from the Secretariat, the Ombudsman has worked in institutions of confinement for a total of more than two and a half years. Only in early 2011, the Authorized Human Rights Representative had personal meetings with more than 300 prisoners in a Kyiv pre-trial detention center.

For the first time in Ukraine, the efforts of Ombudsman Karpachova resulted in the establishment of the National Coordination Council for the Prevention of Human Trafficking, the introduction of amendments envisaging criminal liability for human trafficking to the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

In accordance with the Law of Ukraine "On the Democratic Civil Control of the Military Establishments and Law Enforcement Bodies of the State" the Authorized Human Rights Representative, as a subject of such control conducts the systematic monitoring of compliance with the rights of military men to life and health, protection of honor and dignity, personal inviolability and security, and takes steps to prevent their violation and restoration.

One of the priorities of the Authorized Human Rights Representative is to protect the rights of children. Over the past three years, the Ombudsman has received individual and collective applications signed by more than 7,500 children. To handle these applications, the Department for the Protection of Children’s Rights was established in the Secretariat of the Authorized Human Rights Representative, and one specialist in each division of the Secretariat reviews applications for children's rights. Since 2010 the Ombudsman of Ukraine established the position of Representative of the Ombudsman on the protection of children’s rights, equality and nondiscrimination.

In December 2010, to honor the 20th anniversary of Ukraine's ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a Special Report of the Authorized Human Rights Representative on the "State of Observance and Protection of the Rights of the Child in Ukraine" was presented to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the report is posted on the UN website: http://www.un.org/ru/documents/ods.asp?m=A/HRC/16/NI/5.

In accordance with Art. 17 of the Law of Ukraine "On the Authorized Human Rights Representative", the Ombudsman is empowered to open proceedings in cases on the violation of human rights and freedoms, for the purpose of finding out whether there was a violation in each case, what state body or officer shall be responsible for the violation of rights, take legal actions to restore violated human rights and freedoms and prevent such violations in the future. Many proceedings initiated by the Ombudsman of Ukraine receive wide public resonance.

Among them are proceedings on the protection of the rights of miners to the timely payment of wages, proper working conditions and technical safety rules, the Authorized Human Rights Representative was personally working in government commissions at the Barakova coal mine in Krasnodon (Luhansk oblast) in March 2000, when an explosion killed 80 miners, and at Zasyadko coal mine in the city of Donetsk in November-December 2007, when 106 miners and mine-rescue workers died during an accident. According to the results of this work, the Ombudsman forwarded relevant submissions specifically proposing a set of measures to prevent the violation of the constitutional rights of employees in the coalmining industry to life, safe working conditions and social protection, to the Prime Minister of Ukraine. Most of the proposals of the Ombudsman were taken into account by the Government during decision-making.

From the earliest days in the office of Ombudsman, N.I. Karpachova focused on the protection of the rights of Ukrainian seamen working on vessels mainly under the flags of other countries. In 1998 she dealt with the protection of the rights of the sailors on the ship "Dubai Valur", who were taken hostage off the coast of Nigeria and the crew of "Global Sky" subjected to an armed attack in Egypt. In 2007-2010 the Ombudsman initiated proceedings for the protection of sailors' rights from more than 50 ships, particularly, "Lehmann Timber", "Captain Stefanos", "Faina", "Saldanha", "Sil Tide", "Ariana", "Malaspina Castle", "Marathon" and many others, who were taken captive by pirates or were arrested in foreign ports.

The Authorized Human Rights Representative and employees of the Secretariat of the Ombudsman of Ukraine took much effort to restore justice and protect the rights of victims in such complex matters as, for example, death of Yuriy Murashov, Chairman of the Ukrainian "Helsinki-90" Committee (the proceedings lasted from 2005 to 2009); the gross violation of property right to land and resultant suicide of Natalia Kobeleva, a single mother from Alushta in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (the proceedings began in 2006 and continue to this day); protection of the right to life and return to her homeland of Ukrainian citizen Victoriya Mamontova, who was sentenced to death by the court of the Kingdom of Thailand (the proceedings continued for nine years).

During 2010 alone, the Authorized Human Rights Representative forwarded 146 petitions; 20 petitions on the topical issues of the protection of human rights were forwarded to the President of Ukraine; 9 – to the Prime Minister of Ukraine, including those, on ensuring the constitutional right to judicial defense; rights of women to work in public executive and management agencies; protection of rights of persons discharged from military service to appropriate retirement benefits; the rights of Ukrainian citizens, who left for permanent residence abroad. The Authorized Human Rights Representative personally submitted documents to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine on the protection of the rights of persons subjected to administrative detention; protection of the constitutional rights of participants of peaceful assemblies; restoration of the labor rights of employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, etc.

In accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine (Art. 150), the Authorized Human Rights Representative is also entitled to make a constitutional petition, comprising an act of response, which is sent to the Constitutional Court of Ukraine to address the issue of compliance of the Law of Ukraine or other legal act of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the President of Ukraine, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, legal act of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, and official interpretation of the Constitution and laws of Ukraine, with the Constitution of Ukraine (constitutionality).

Based on the petition of the Ombudsman on the unconstitutionality of Articles 7 and 8 of the Law of Ukraine "On State Guarantees for the Restorarion of the Savings of Ukrainian Citizens", the Constitutional Court of Ukraine recognized the ownership right of millions of Ukrainian citizens to their deposits in the Savings Bank of the former USSR. According to the constitutional petition on the constitutionality of Articles 11 and 16 of the Law of Ukraine "On Trade Unions, Their Rights and Guarantees of Activity", the rights of Ukrainian citizens to unite in associations are protected. The judgments delivered by the Constitutional Court on the filing regarding the constitutionality of the third, fourth and fifth paragraphs of Art. 2483 of the Code of Civil Procedure of Ukraine in respect of appeals against decisions and actions beyond the jurisdiction of courts, finally permitted citizens to exercise their constitutional right to appeal to the Court against the unlawful actions or omissions to act of officials of investigative agencies, pretrial investigation, prosecutor’s office, and representatives of the judicial authority.

In December 2009, the Authorized Human Rights Representative made a constitutional petition on compliance of paragraph eight of clause 5 of part one of Art. 11 of the Law of Ukraine "On the Militia" with the Constitution of Ukraine (constitutionality), according to which, law enforcement officers had the right to detain persons suspected of vagrancy for a period of up to 30 days in special premises. On June 29, 2010, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine agreed with the Ombudsman and delivered a judgment on the non-compliance of the abovementioned provisions of the Law of Ukraine "On Militia" with the Constitution of Ukraine. Therefore, it was an important step to bring national legislation in compliance with international human rights standards.

Key directions for the multifaceted activities of the Ombudsman of Ukraine are the promotion of international standards on human rights and freedoms, promotion of the ratification of international treaties and their implementation in the national legislation of Ukraine.

On the petition of the Authorized Human Rights Representative, Ukraine ratified many international conventions protecting human rights: particularly, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and punishment for it, 2000; the UN Refugee Convention; the European Convention on the Legal Status of Migrant Workers, 1977; the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982; the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006 and many others.

On December 10, 2008, on the day of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Ombudsman of Ukraine presented a Special Report on "The State of the Observance of International Standards of Human Rights and Freedoms in Ukraine" to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. It provides the results of the monitoring of Ukraine’s compliance with international standards. The data was primarily based on comments and recommendations of the UN treaty bodies summarizing the reports of Ukraine for the total period of independence. The document was also supplemented by the comments and recommendations of UN treaty bodies. Two years later, in November 2010, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine informed the Authorized Human Rights Representative on the implementation of the recommendation of the Special Report. The Report is posted on the UN website: http://www.un.org/ru/documents/ods.asp?m=A/HRC/13/NI/1.

On October 22, 2010, the Authorized Human Rights Representative presented the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine with a Special Report on "The State of the Observance of European Standards of Human Rights and Freedoms in Ukraine" devoted to the 60th anniversary of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. For the first time, the public was informed about the complex analysis of the execution of obligations in the field of human rights undertaken during Ukraine's accession to the Council of Europe.

The Authorized Human Rights Representative consistently protects the rights of national minorities in our country, monitoring the observance of their rights in six regions of Ukraine, together with the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities. Information and analytical materials on this joint project was used in preparing the Special Report of the Ombudsman on the status of the observance and protection of rights of national minorities in Ukraine.

The powers and activities of the Ombudsman of Ukraine fully comply with the Paris Principles approved by Resolution 48/134 of the UN General Assembly on December 20, 1993 with regard to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights. First of all, we are talking about independence, openness of activity and an impartial position in defending and protecting human rights and freedoms.

Therefore, in March 2009 according to a decision delivered by the Bureau of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights at the United Nations, the Ombudsman of Ukraine was granted the highest accreditation status "A", which specifically gives the right to participate in meetings of the UN Council on Human Rights and speak on the issues under discussion.

The experience of the Authorized Human Rights Representative shows that Ukraine experienced positive changes from the moment of her coming to office, people no longer feel alone in their struggle for human dignity, they have someone to turn to with their pain and problems.

Currently, the institution of the Ombudsman of Ukraine has an important place in the system of constitutional state bodies, being an independent and necessary legal institution in the national system for the protection of human rights.