The Verkhovna Rada elected Lyudmila Denisova, a deputy from the People’s Front faction, as its Ombudsman for Human Rights.
Sergei Alekseyev (the Petro Poroshenko Bloc) and Andrii Mamalyga (the Radical Party) were also nominated to the post of Ombudsman in the Parliament. But People’s Deputy Sergei Alekseev had withdrawn.
According to the results of the preferential voting, the candidacy of Lyudmila Denisova obtained 273 votes against 111 votes in favour of the candidacy of Andrii Mamalyga.
Before the vote on the candidates, Grigorii Nemyrya, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and Interethnic Relations, made a statement from the rostrum.
He recalled that in the summer the Committee had asked the Speaker of Parliament, Andrii Parubiy, to restart the election procedure of the Ombudsman, since the situation “exceeded the legal framework and contradicts the legislation”.
The Committee also requested that the election procedure need to be brought into line with the Paris Principles. In particular, voting for the Ombudsman should be secret, not open.
But, according to Nemyrya, the request was ignored and nothing has changed.
It should be reminded that Ukrainian and international human rights organizations have repeatedly called upon the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada and People’s Deputies to restart the election process of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) and carry out a transparent competition with involvement of international and national human rights organizations.
The term of office of Ombudsman Valeriya Lutkovskaya expired on April 27, 2017.
In May last year, three candidates were nominated – Lyudmila Denisova (Narodniy Front), Sergei Alekseev (the Petro Poroshenko Bloc) and Andrii Mamalyga (faction of the Radical Party of Oleg Lyashko). However, the Parliament was never able to vote for them within the time frame established by Law (until June 6).
In addition, according to allegations of human rights defenders, none of these candidates has the proper experience of human rights activities, their nomination “took place in an opaque way and was the result of behind-the-scenes arrangements.”
But all appeals of the human rights community and international organizations were ignored.
According to Tatyana Pechonchik, the Head of the Human Rights Information Center, the post of Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) became a hostage of political horse-trading between the Petro Poroshenko Bloc and the Narodniy Front, meanwhile, voting takes place via the “party quotas” in exchange for votes for the Chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine. And this is unacceptable, because the Ombudsman should be independent of politicians and give uncompromising assessments on the status of human rights in the country.
Aleksander Pavlichenco, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, also drew attention to the manipulation of the election procedure of the Commissioner and the conflict of two legislative norms, one of which requires an open vote for the Ombudsman, and the other – a secret one.
Moreover, the factions’ chairmen use open voting, in order to monitor the deputies implementing the agreements on voting for a certain candidate.