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Kotsaba, Sheremet and “Peacemaker”. Human Rights Watch calls on the EU to put pressure on Ukraine because of human rights violations

European Union leaders should press Ukraine at the July 12-13, 2017 summit to fulfill its human rights commitments, Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

The meeting in the capital of Ukraine, Kiev, passes several weeks after Ukraine received a visa-free regime for the Ukrainian in the EU countries, to which the government of Ukraine went for years. At the same time, the Ukrainian government has taken new measures that threaten freedom of expression and access to information.

“Despite recent progress in resolving important political issues between the EU and Ukraine, Kiev has abolished some of the human rights commitments without any particular reaction from its European partners,” said Lotte Leicht, EU Human Rights Director. “As one of the key international allies of Ukraine, the EU can and should insist on respect for human rights, including freedom of speech and freedom of the media. ”

EU leaders must push Ukraine toward concrete actions, such as the lifting of restrictions on freedom of speech, Human Rights Watch said. Ukraine must ensure that serious violations of international law in the field of human rights and humanitarian law will be effectively investigated, and those responsible will be held accountable.

In March, the EU promised to support the Ukrainian government in providing a stable, prosperous and democratic future for all its citizens. The EU indicated that the main priorities are concerns about the situation in the Crimea, including the situation with Crimean Tatars, serious violations related to the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, and the consequences of the conflict for people’s daily lives.

The European Union again raised most of these issues during the EU-Ukraine Human Rights Dialogue on 12 June. But dialogue should not be the only forum where human rights are discussed, Human Rights Watch says. Concern for unjustified restrictions on human rights should also be communicated privately and publicly at the highest level, so that EU officials can play a significant role in upholding human rights and the rule of law in its partnership with Ukraine.
In recent months, the Ukrainian government has taken several steps to restrict the freedom of speech and freedom of the media, justifying them by the need to resist Russia’s military aggression in the east of Ukraine and anti-Ukrainian propaganda.

In June, the Supreme Special Court in Kiev annulled the excuses of 2016 journalist and blogger Ruslan Kotsaba, who had previously been convicted of treason for calling for a boycott of conscription – mobilization.

On May 16, President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree banning the activities of the largest Russian Internet companies and their websites in Ukraine, citing national security and the need to oppose Russian propaganda. The ban was aimed at such major Russian social networks as VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, which used millions of Ukrainian daily; language and accounting software; sites of many Russian television stations and other media; as well as Yandex, an Internet browser and many of its affiliates.

Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland expressed concern about Ukraine’s complete ban on Russian sites, saying that it “runs counter to our common understanding of freedom of speech and media freedom” and that it “does not correspond to the principle of proportionality.”

A number of other issues in Ukraine affect the freedom of the media and the safety of journalists.

In April, Poroshenko signed a law that requires activists and journalists who investigate corruption problems to disclose their personal assets in annual electronic declarations open to all, just like government officials. On July 10, the president introduced amendments that would cancel the requirements for online declarations, but instead would introduce excessive reporting requirements for all non-profit organizations and individuals working for them.

In May 2016, the pro-government website “Peacemaker” published the names and personal information of hundreds of journalists and others who were accredited in the press center of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic”, accusing them of “cooperation with terrorists.” The Ukrainian authorities opened an investigation, but high-ranking officials welcomed the publication of the data. Several journalists received threats.
The well-known journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed in July 2016. Murder after a year remains unresolved, despite the statements of Poroshenko and other officials that the investigation will be a priority.

Poroshenko made several statements about the need to improve the climate of press freedom in the country. But the EU should publicly insist that Ukraine needs to take immediate and concrete steps to this, including repealing the decree banning Russian Internet companies, reviewing the law on fighting corruption and lifting charges against Ruslan Kotsaba.

The government of Ukraine also needs to do more to hold those responsible for serious violations in the context of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine accountable, Human Rights Watch says.

In 2016, HRW, together with Amnesty International, found that 18 people were forcibly abducted and held in secret detention at the premises of the Ukrainian Security Service (SSU) in Kharkov. And although everyone was released later, the SBU denies that people were forcibly hijacked and kept in secret detention. The military prosecutor’s office promised to carry out the investigation, but a year later there were no tangible results of the investigation, and the victims did not receive an effective remedy against violations of their rights and abuses to which they were subjected.

Other conflict-related abuses remain unaddressed, for example, illegal attacks on schools and medical facilities in eastern Ukraine.

Although some progress has been made regarding the responsibility for serious violations by government forces against demonstrators during the protests of the Maidan in 2014, more than three years ago many abuses remain without attention. Criminal proceedings were also instituted against members of the military battalions of Ukraine, such as Aidar and the former Tornado police battalion, but these investigations and trials were marred by violations and intimidation by nationalist groups. The authorities often do not hold accountable those responsible for the violation of the trial.

“Ukraine’s relations with the EU will largely be determined by the way Kiev deals with abuses of the past and its respect for human rights in the present,” Leucht said. “The EU should demonstrate full political commitment to pushing the Ukrainian government to comply with human rights obligations and the rule of law” .

Recall, “Country” recently did an interview with Ruslan Kotsaba. He says that he is offered to choose between the scenario of Buzina and Sharia.

The information is taken from: https://strana.ua/news/81066-kocaba-sheremet-i-mirotvorec-human-rights-watch-prizyvaet-es-nadavit-na-ukrainu-iz-za-narushenij-prav-cheloveka. html