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09KYIV1131, HUMAN RIGHTS OMBUDSMAN REPORTS ON TORTURE, NEED

July 6, 2009

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09KYIV1131 2009-07-06 14:36 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO8895
PP RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHSK RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHKV #1131/01 1871436
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061436Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8072
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KYIV 001131 
 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM UP
SUBJECT: HUMAN RIGHTS OMBUDSMAN REPORTS ON TORTURE, NEED 
FOR JUDICIAL REFORM 
 
(U) Sensitive but unclassified, please handle accordingly. 
 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. (SBU) Human Rights Ombudsman Nina Karpachova recently 
presented a report to the Rada highlighting problems with the 
judiciary, torture in pretrial detention, and poverty.  Human 
rights experts we spoke with gave her some credit for raising 
these concerns but criticized her for being too involved in 
politics and not effectively using her position to advocate 
for human rights.  End Summary. 
 
Ombudsman Criticized for Political Ambitions 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
2.  (SBU) Human rights groups have often criticized Human 
Rights Ombudsman Nina Karpachova for her political ambition. 
Karpachova, who has held the post since 1999, came under fire 
in 2007 from human rights groups for keeping her position as 
Ombudsman after winning a seat in the Rada as a Party of 
Regions MP.  In response to accusations of conflict of 
interest, she relinquished her Rada seat in 2008.  She was 
subsequently reelected by a vote of the Rada to the post, 
officially known as the Parliamentary Commissioner on Human 
Rights.  Since 2008, even her critics acknowledge that 
Karpachova has been more active - but selective - in 
addressing claims of human rights violations. 
 
Ombudsman Sees Poverty as Top Problem 
------------------------------------- 
 
3.  (U) Karpachova presented her constitutionally-mandated 
annual report, the first since 2005, to a sparsely attended 
session of the Rada on June 24.  Her top concerns were 
inadequate government programs to address poverty, the lack 
of access to government-provided land and housing, a 
dysfunctional judiciary, and abuses in pre-trial detention 
and prisons.  Karpachova argued that poverty was the primary 
cause of human rights problems claiming that up to 70 percent 
of Ukrainians live below the poverty line.  She said that 
wage arrears, unemployment, the lack of free medical care, 
and long waits for government-provided housing added to the 
misery caused by the economic downturn.   She added that 
migration flows from other countries through Ukraine, caused 
the global economic downturn, was a growing problem.  To 
address increased migration flows, she called for the 
Government to establish a central migration authority. 
 
Calls for Judicial Reform, Better Prison Conditions 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
4. (U) Karpachova said the most desperate complaints she 
receives involve the judiciary and she called for its reform. 
 She reported that only 35 percent of court rulings were 
actually implemented in 2008.  The Ombudsman received 1922 
complaints of police violence to coerce confessions or bribes 
in 2008 compared to 1428 complaints in 2007.  The Ombudsman 
cited inhuman conditions in prisons but noted some progress 
with the reduction of the prison population by roughly 
one-third since 2000.  She credited this drop to more humane 
sentencing. 
 
Human Rights Advocate: Ombudsman too Cautious 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
5.  (SBU) Yevhen Zakharov, a respected human rights advocate 
who ran for the Ombudsman position against Karpachova in 
2008, told Emboff that the report's findings were overly 
cautious.  Zakharov questioned Karpachova's claim that 
seventy percent of Ukrainians live in poverty but agreed that 
there is a growing gap between the rich and poor.  He agreed 
with her call to reform the judiciary but noted that she 
offered no concrete recommendations ) probably out of fear 
of fallout in a politically charged election year.  Zakharov 
felt Karpachova should have specifically mentioned political 
interference in the court system but credited her for raising 
the problem of abuse in pretrial detention and prisons. 
 
Critic: Ombudsman Ruined Credibility of her Office 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
6.  (SBU)  Human Rights advocate Seymon Gluzman dismissed 
Karpachova's report and characterized her overall work as 
lacking substance.  While acknowledging that her report 
addressed the problem of torture in pretrial detention, he 
said that she was only restating complaints made human rights 
NGOs.  Gluzman asserted that the office of Ombudsman lacks 
authority and does not play a leading role in protecting 
human rights.  However, Karpachova should have been more 
assertive during her tenure.  By not speaking out on 
 
KYIV 00001131  002 OF 002 
 
 
"substantive" issues, Karpachova had damaged the credibility 
of the office of the Ombudsman as an institution, asserted 
Gluzman. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
7.  (SBU) The release of the report ) the first since 2005 
) is another indication that Karpachova has been more active 
over the past year.  The report's coverage of problems such 
as torture and judicial reform - something we hear about from 
our human rights contacts - is a positive development. 
However, despite her improved efforts, Karpachova will have a 
hard time regaining credibility within the human rights 
community. 
PETTIT

Wikileaks

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