Statement of human rights organizations on the need to investigate activities of incumbent Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights
On July 26, 2019, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) jointly with the Special Investigation Department of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine (PGO) released the information which may be indicative of the corrupt activities of Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Liudmyla Denisova.
According to the audio recording of phone calls made public by the NABU, Chairman of the Kyiv District Administrative Court (KDAC) Pavlo Vovk and certain judges meddled with the activity of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine (HQCJ) and organized the delivery of deliberately unjust judgments to evade the mandatory qualification assessment. Thus, the substitution of two HQCJ members for the “loyal” winners of the competition, who were identified beforehand according to the quota of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights and the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine, became possible owing to the interference of Pavlo Vovk.
Earlier, the National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) exposed inaccurate information in the e-declarations filed by former Member of Parliament and incumbent Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Liudmyla Denisova for 2015, 2016 and 2017. According to the investigation data and as evidenced by the files of covert investigative activities, Liudmyla Denisova agreed to recall HQCJ member Andriy Kozlov, who had been appointed earlier pursuant to her quota, and to substitute him for a more “loyal” candidate in exchange for the cancellation of those protocols. On June 27, 2019, it became known that Liudmyla Denisova had dismissed Andriy Kozlov and scheduled holding of a new competition, which is actually a confirmation of the statements made by NABU and PGO.
As a reminder, according to the legislation, the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights performs the activity independently of other government bodies and officials. The activity of the Commissioner is subject to the requirements and restrictions enshrined in the Law of Ukraine “On Preventing and Combating Corruption.” When assuming the office, the Commissioner takes an oath, making a commitment to “act independently, impartially, in the interests of an individual and a citizen.”
KDAC Chairman Pavlo Vovk publicly commented on the NABU and PGO briefing, calling the audio recordings “unprofessional cutting” and claiming that “everything is a lie, from beginning to end.” At the same time, Liudmyla Denisova has made no comments over the past five days since the materials were made public.
The information released by law enforcement agencies casts a shadow on the reputation of the entire Office of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, casts doubt on its independence and impartiality and, moreover, may be indicative of corrupt activities of Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Liudmyla Denisova.
We would like to once again draw attention to the fact that the election of Liudmyla Denisova as the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights in March 2018 was carried out with a procedural violation and without holding consultations with human rights organizations. The political parties’ nomination of their candidates, who lack proper human rights experience, for this position in a non-transparent behind-the-scenes manner created a number of risks and shook the confidence in the Commissioner’s activities.
We are convinced that the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights should promote and protect human rights impartially and independently of other government bodies and officials. In order to ensure such independence of the institution, the procedure for election of the Commissioner must comply with the UN Paris Principles.
Thereby, we call on:
the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Liudmyla Denisova:
– to publicly explain the Commissioner’s stance on the dismissal of Andriy Kozlov from the post of a member of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine and on scheduling of a new competition, as well as to comment on the charges laid by NABU and PGO;
the law enforcement agencies of Ukraine:
– to conduct an independent investigation into the NABU report on the alleged criminal offense committed by Liudmyla Denisova;
the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the ninth convocation:
– to set up a provisional investigatory commission of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and to prepare a conclusion on the existence or absence of grounds for dismissal of the Commissioner in view of oath breaking in accordance with the Article 9 of the Law of Ukraine “On the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights.”
NGO “Returning Home”
Association of Relatives of Kremlin’s Political Prisoners
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Center for Civil Liberties
Human Rights Centre ZMINA
Social Action Centre