ADC “Memorial” and the “Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group” welcomes the Concluding observations of the UN CERD addressed to the government of Ukraine

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination published its Concluding observations and recommendations following consideration of the State report of Ukraine and the alternative materials from non-profit organizations.

The Committee’s Concluding observations mention the problems raised in the ADC Memorial-Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group joint alternative report. As regards improvement of legislation and law enforcement, it was recommended that grounds for discrimination such as national origin and descent be added to the Act on the Principles of Prevention and Surmounting of Racial Discrimination, as well as to other legislative acts on racial discrimination. The Committee pointed out that Article 161 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code should be systematically applied to identify, register, duly investigate hate-based crimes and prosecute the perpetrators of such crimes. The Committee indicated that the State should consistently confront hate propaganda and publicly condemn manifestations of hate speech by public figures and representatives of different political forces.

ADC Memorial and Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group noted insufficient State support for Crimean Tatars who were forced to flee the Crimea and live in different regions of Ukraine. Moreover, as a result of the annexation of the Crimea, laws passed in Ukraine providing for special guaranties of the rights of the Crimean Tatar People do not yet apply to many Crimean Tatars who find themselves on an annexed territory. The Committee recommended providing long-term support for the Crimean Tatar people in Ukraine, paying particular attention to funding of organizations working on cultural development in order to create conditions for teaching in the Crimean Tatar language.

A significant part of the ADC Memorial-Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group report addressed problems of the Roma, including victims of the war in the Eastern part of Ukraine. The Committee made several recommendations on this topic: investigate violent crimes against the Roma in the area of the conflict on territories now controlled by Ukraine; design and implement long-term measures to support the Roma – internally displaced persons. When referring to the Roma’s problems in general, the Committee recommended providing requisite funding for implementation of the Strategy to Protect and Integrate the Roma National Minority into Ukrainian Society by 2020 and the related Plan of Action; intensifying the fight against discrimination faced by Roma in education, employment, housing, paperwork; paying particular attention to the problem of Roma women’s employment; maximizing efforts to improve access to education and attendance of school to overcome illiteracy; consulting with Roma organizations, including at the local level.

Of particular concern are the events that took place in Loschinovka, Odessa Oblast, where Roma residents were indiscriminately accused of crimes, pogromed and banished without being given a chance to gather their belongings. Moreover, the local authorities, including even the governor of the oblast, Mikhail Saakashvili, as a matter of fact supported the illegal actions of those carrying out the pogroms. A thorough investigation of the crimes must be conducted, and the principles of the presumption of innocence for every person and an independent court observed. There must be monitoring of effective implementation of security measures and respect for the legitimate rights of all residents.

ADC Memorial and the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group welcome the UN CERD’s recommendations and call upon the government of Ukraine to pay them due attention and do its utmost to ensure their implementation.