EU-Ukraine Human Rights Dialogue
June 5, 2018.
The European Union and Ukraine held their annual Human Rights Dialogue on 31 May 2018 in Brussels, the fourth time since the signing of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and the first time since its entry into force. In the Association Agreement, the European Union and Ukraine express their mutual commitment to common values, in particular the full respect for democratic principles, rule of law, good governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The meeting was held in an open and constructive atmosphere, allowing a thorough exchange of views on the current human rights situation in Ukraine and on progress since the last dialogue, held in June 2017 in Kyiv.
The EU and Ukraine reiterated their grave concern over the further deterioration of the human rights situation on the Crimean peninsula, including the situation of Crimean Tatars, following its illegal annexation by the Russian Federation. As documented in the reports by OHCHR, there have been multiple restrictions on fundamental freedoms and violations of international humanitarian law. The EU and Ukraine condemned the human rights violations and abuses in the areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which are not under the full effective control of the Government of Ukraine. They also called for the immediate release of all illegally detained Ukrainian citizens in Russia and the Crimean peninsula.
The EU and Ukraine discussed ways to ensure respect for human rights and to mitigate the humanitarian impact of the conflict in the east of Ukraine and of the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula. They also discussed the ways to protect the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs). The work of the Ministry for Temporary Occupied Territories and IDPs and the adoption of the Strategy on IDP integration were welcomed, while the EU and Ukraine looked forward to a prompt finalisation and adoption of the related Action Plan, as well as continued efforts to implement the Action Plan for certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
The participants discussed the prevention of ill-treatment and torture and the contribution that the ongoing reforms in the area of law enforcement continue to have in strengthening human rights in Ukraine. The EU and Ukraine agreed on the need for further progress to be made in the investigations into the crimes committed during the Maidan protests, and the violent events in Odesa on 2 May 2014, emphasising the need to address the shortcomings identified by the International Advisory Panel of the Council of Europe and to bring those responsible to justice.
The EU and Ukraine noted the importance of harmonising electoral legislation ahead of the coming electoral cycle and agreed on the need to swiftly finalise the renewal of the Central Election Commission ensuring a balanced representation of the relevant political forces.
Both sides highlighted the importance of free and independent media and discussed ways to advance the safety of journalists and media outlets. Ukraine recommitted to address publication of journalists' private data on Ukrainian websites. The two sides also recognised the important role of the Public Service Broadcaster and the need to ensure sufficient resources for its functioning.
Non-discrimination policy was also on the agenda of the Dialogue, including the rights of LGBTI persons and those belonging to ethnic, linguistic, religious and national minorities, including in the context of the law on education where Ukraine reiterated its commitment to take fully into account the Venice Commission opinion.
Regarding gender equality and women's rights, the EU and Ukraine welcomed the recent achievements such as the appointment of the Government Commissioner for Gender Equality Policy and the legislative changes introduced by Ukraine with regard to the fight against violence against women and domestic violence. As a further important step, the EU encouraged Ukraine to ratify the Istanbul Convention swiftly. The parties discussed also the rights of the child.
The EU and Ukraine cooperate well in international fora in the field of human rights. The European Union recalled that Ukraine has committed to the ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
The EU delegation was led by Mr Dirk Schuebel, Head of Division for bilateral relations with the Eastern Partnership countries in the European External Action Service. The Ukrainian delegation was led by Mr Sergui Petukhov, Deputy Minister of Justice of Ukraine. In line with usual practice, the EU held consultations with representatives of Ukrainian civil society and international organisations prior to the dialogue.
The dialogue is held back-to-back with the Justice, Freedom and Security subcommittee which takes place on 1 June.
The next Human Rights Dialogue meeting between Ukraine and the EU is scheduled to take place in the spring of 2019.