Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Freedom curtailed under Ukraine’s anti-protest law

Photo: Flickr / Sasha Maksymenko / 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Despite violent rallies against the legislation that have taken place for the past two days, ignoring an appeal for calm by President Viktor Yanukovych, a controversial anti-protest law has come into effect in Ukraine.

Urging restraint amid widespread anti-Government protests in Ukraine, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay have called for sustained and inclusive dialogue to defuse tensions in the country.

“The violent clashes over the past few days in the centre of Kiev, which reportedly resulted in many people being injured, are very worrying,” said Ms. Pillay. “I appeal to all parties to engage in constructive dialogue to avoid further escalation of the unrest.

“The longer they wait, the more difficult it will become to resolve the impasse,” she added.

The new law, which bans all forms of protests, was published in the official Golos Ukrainy, or Voice of Ukraine, newspaper, raising fears that the government would use excessive force to quell dissent.

The opposition and the West have condemned the bill, demanding that it be reversed.

“I call on the authorities to suspend application of the laws to allow time for a thorough review of their content,” the High Commissioner said in her statement. She added that the laws must be in full compliance with international human rights standards, in particular Ukraine’s obligations under the relevant treaties it has ratified.

“I am particularly concerned by the potential that these laws have to curtail the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, the right to information, the right of civil society to work freely. The laws also have the potential to result in impunity for human rights violations,” she added.

Among its provisions, the law compels non-governmental organizations (NGOs) receiving international funding to register as “foreign agents,” to lose their non-profit status, and to regularly publish accounts of their activities.

“Such provisions will roll back the enjoyment of human rights for the people of Ukraine, stifle debate and dissent, and jeopardise the democratic achievements of the past two decades,” Ms. Pillay said.

As demostrations continue, three protestors have been reported dead on Wednesday morning as a result of the clashes, according to Kiev Post.


More information on Ukraine:

Full statement of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: http://www.un.org/sg/statements/index.asp?nid=7414
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Ukraine: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/UAIndex.aspx
Member States on the Record – Ukraine: http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/unms/ukraine.shtml

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