Query response on Ukraine: Capacity of law enforcement institutions in court proceedings when the case concerns the victim‘s race, nationality or antimaidan political views (is the right to lodge a complaint respected, are legal proceedings being instituted and what is their outcome?) [a-10394]

6 October 2017

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to ACCORD as well as information provided by experts within time constraints and in accordance with ACCORD’s methodological standards and the Common EU Guidelines for processing Country of Origin Information (COI).

This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status, asylum or other form of international protection.

Please read in full all documents referred to.

Non-English language information is summarised in English. Original language quotations are provided for reference.

Anti-Maidan activists

Sputnik News, a news agency established by the Russian government-controlled news agency Rossiya Segodnya, in a May 2015 article gives insight into the investigations in the Odessa incidents of May 2014:

“Saturday will mark the one year anniversary of the Odessa Massacre, a series of clashes between Ukrainian nationalists and anti-Maidan activists which culminated in the burning to death of several dozen anti-Maidan activists at the House of Trade Unions building in Central Odessa.

Despite an overabundance of photo, video and other evidence, local rights activists have complained about investigators’ sluggishness and Kiev’s politicization of the investigation.

For instance, Ukraine’s Vesti has recently reported that despite the participation of thousands of demonstrators from both sides, only 22 cases have been opened, all but one against anti-Maidan activists. The one pro-Maidan activist who faces trial, Sergei Hodiyak, is accused of the shooting death of anti-Maidan protester Evgeniy Losinskiy, and of attacking a police officer. Hodiyak has pled not guilty, and has the support of Radical Party MP Igor Mosiychuk, who calls Hodiyak a political prisoner and has promised that he would do everything to ‘cease the harassment of a patriot protecting Odessa from separatists.’

The Group of May 2, a group of forensic and other experts, journalists and local social leaders has launched their own independent inquiry into events running parallel the government’s investigation.

The activists have condemned authorities for their biased and incomplete investigation, criticizing local security organs for the destruction of evidence and their lack of details in interviewing witnesses. The group has also challenged the official version of the cause of death of those who perished in the House of Trade Unions building, toxicologist Vladimir Sargasyan’s analysis finding that the majority were killed by carbon monoxide and burns, not by inhalation of mysterious poisonous gases. They have interviewed over 120 eyewitnesses and victims not questioned by investigators, compiled a detailed reconstruction of events, and launched a criminal investigation against the regional Directorate of Emergency Situations for their ineffective response on the day of the tragedy.

Regarding the cases filed against the anti-Maidan activists, Group of May 2 coordinator Tatiana Gerasimova has noted that ‘indictments are copy-pasted, with only photographs and biographical data being changed. This is not correct; after all, every person is different, as were their actions that day.’

An investigation by Vesti.Reporter has also challenged government investigators’ central claim that both sides were equally responsible for the House of Trade Unions’ building fire. Reconstructing the situation that day, Vesti.Reporter was able to determine that by the time when the fire began, anti-Maidan activists had already been scattered; most of the activists hiding in the building were women and old men, with no more than 20 younger activists facing hundreds of pro-Maidan activists and football hooligans.

‘For this reason, the throwing of Molotov cocktails into the House of Trade Unions and the deaths of several dozen anti-Maidan activists cannot be justified, and cannot even be marked down to ‘coincidence’. A real investigation into the crime is thus still waiting to see the light of day,’ Vesti.Reporter explained.

Odessa Authorities Brace for Anniversary

Ukrainian media have been reporting on the unprecedented precautions taken by municipal and regional authorities in preparation for the anniversary of the events of May 2. Up to 2,800 police, in addition to 500 personnel from other security organizations and volunteer units are being mobilized in the city. Armored cars and infantry fighting vehicles are set to reinforce them.

Governor Ihor Palytsa told press that ‘we will respond firmly, and sort out whether the detention was lawful or not later. Those who might look even a little similar to the faces on wanted lists will face checked, so it’s best to carry [your] passports.’ Ministry of Internal Affairs Chief Ivan Katerynchuk added that anyone wearing balaclavas or St. George Ribbons will be detained.

Officials have already arrested 12 persons listed as ‘terrorists’ ahead of the anniversary, including 54-year-old Lyubov Davidchenko, mother of Antimaidan activists Anton and Artem Davidchenko, who have fled to Russia, along with opposition journalist Artem Buzila.

The Russian Foreign Ministry criticized Kiev Friday for its stalling of the investigation into the tragedy, calling on the world community to demand a thorough and impartial investigation. The Ministry noted that it is ‘with deep sense of concern we have to state that one year on, the Ukrainian [authorities] have not taken any tangible steps toward an objective, independent and impartial investigation of this horrific crime with the aim of bringing the perpetrators to justice.’“ (Sputnik News, 1 May 2015)

The Human Rights Council, an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them, in a March 2016 report on the human rights situation in Ukraine between 16 November 2015 and 15 February 2016 reports on the case of a leader of the anti-Maidan movement in Kharkiv:

“77. OHCHR has observed a worrying trend in criminal proceedings of people charged with ‘trespassing against the territorial integrity or inviolability of Ukraine.’ Courts regularly and repeatedly extend the initial period of detention for individuals held on national security grounds for 60 days without providing sufficient and relevant reasons to justify detention. Grounds for continued detention are almost never provided, and conditional or interim release is rarely – if ever – granted. Many defendants are detained for long periods of time, up to 20 months, and eventually charged with minor offenses, such as ‘hooliganism’. This has been noted as a serious trend in Kharkiv and Odesa.

78. This trend extends to high-profile cases, such as that of Spartak Holovachov. For instance, one of the leaders of the anti-Maidan movement in Kharkiv Mr. Holovachov was accused of participating in riots. After the conclusion of his trial, on 19 November 2015, the prosecution requested the introduction of additional evidence and new witnesses. As of February 2016, none of the summoned witnesses had appeared before court. Mr. Holovachov has been in solitary confinement in the 100th Penal Colony, a high security detention facility, since 1 May 2014. The General Prosecutor attests that Mr. Holovachov is held separately because he is the only detainee in his category. OHCHR recalls that the separation of detainees cannot be used as a disciplinary sanction, prolonged investigations or trials cannot justify indefinite solitary confinement, and that the use of prolonged or indefinite solitary confinement runs afoul of the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” (HRC, 17 March 2016, p. 24)

The Commonwealth of Independent States – Europe Monitoring Organization (CIS-EMO) which describes itself as “an international non-governmental organization, the main declared aim of each is to assist maintaining and developing the institution of elections and civil control in states with developing systems of democracy” in a September 2017 report notes the following:

“In conditions when many judges refuse to take unjust decisions, and the special services of Ukraine do almost nothing to stop the persecution of citizens on political grounds, hundreds of prisoners have been in pre-trial detention centers for more than three years now. For example, Ignat Kromskoy, a member of a group which opposed the 2014 Euromaidan coup, was arrested in Kharkov (East Ukraine) more than three years ago. […]

In recent months, some prisoners, who were public figures and took part in protest against the new government, are being sentenced to severe punishments. Yuri Apukhtin, a public figure and scientist from Kharkov (East Ukraine), was sentenced to 6 years in prison for his active dissent, despite his elderly age and serious illness.

Larisa Chubarova, who was engaged in medical support of the Kharkov political protesters, was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Taking into account the situation where courts are under severe undisguised pressure from radical Ukrainian nationalists, judges are forced to massively dismiss from the courts. All this apparently makes access to justice in Ukraine very difficult.” (CIS-EMO, 13 September 2017, pp. 7-8)

Russia Today (RT), a Russian international television network funded by the Russian government, in a September 2017 article features information on the trial of 19 anti-Maidan activists over their involvement in the Odessa incidents of May 2014:

“Thirty-five police officers were injured after Ukrainian far-right activists attempted to break into the court in Chernomorsk, where a case against 19 anti-Maidan activists over their involvement in the deadly Odessa incidents on May 2, 2014 collapsed on Monday. […]

The accused, five of whom have been kept in detention, and two of whom are Russian citizens, each faced up to 15 years in jail.

But the judge dismissed the prosecutors’ case. ‘There is no evidence to prove that the accused were guilty of the stated crimes. In fact, the prosecution did not even try to present any evidence,’ he read out during the verdict, suggesting that the accused may have been doing nothing more than helping police maintain control.

The judge said that insufficient interviews had been conducted, some evidence had been collected illegally, and noted that although there was violence on both sides, only the pro-Russian activists were brought to face justice. Upon their release, two participants were re-arrested, this time on charges of inciting separatism.” (RT, 19 September 2017)

The U.S. Department of State (USDOS), the lead federal agency responsible for U.S. foreign affairs, in its March 2017 human rights report (covering 2016) provides the following information:

Law enforcement agencies also continued their investigation into the events in Odesa in 2014 in which 48 persons died, including six government supporters and 42 persons who supported more autonomy for regions. Those who supported autonomy died in a fire at the Trade Union Building; authorities largely failed to investigate these deaths, focusing on alleged crimes committed by individuals seeking more autonomy. A Council of Europe report in 2015 found the government’s investigation lacked independence and that the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Ministry of Internal Affairs failed to conduct a thorough, coordinated investigation. On January 15, a group of civil society activists and journalists released a statement expressing their lack of confidence in the investigation by the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, accusing the authorities of sabotaging the investigation to prevent the perpetrators from being brought to justice. On May 4, Odesa police chief, Petro Lutsiuk, was fired from his position, and the Prosecutor General’s Office later charged him with abuse of authority in connection with the events at the trade union building. Court hearings continued through the year’s end.(USDOS, 3 March 2017, section 1a)

Impunity for abuses by law enforcement remained a significant problem frequently highlighted by the HRMMU (UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine) in its reports and by other human rights groups. In its September report, the HRMMU attributed the problem to ‘pressure on the judiciary, [and] inability and unwillingness of the Office of the Prosecutor General and Office of the Military Prosecutor to investigate’ abuses. The HRMMU also noted that authorities were unwilling to investigate allegations of torture, particularly when victims were detained on grounds related to national security or were seen as proseparatist.” (USDOS, 3 March 2017, section 1d)

While the constitution provides for an independent judiciary and the Verkhovna Rada passed a judicial reform package in June, courts were inefficient and remained vulnerable to political pressure and corruption. Confidence in the judiciary remained low. […]

There were reports of intimidation and attacks against lawyers representing defendants considered ‘pro-Russian’ or ‘proseparatist.’ For example, on January 26 in Kharkiv, an unoccupied car belonging to lawyer Oleksandr Shadrin exploded. Shadrin had been working on a number of high-profile cases involving ‘proseparatist’ defendants. On January 29, the Ukrainian Bar Association issued an open letter of concern about the incident involving Shadrin’s car as well as other cases in which the safety of attorneys was threatened. In a similar incident on February 2 in Kyiv, an unoccupied car belonging to another lawyer, Andriy Fedur, exploded. Fedur had been defending the accused murderers of journalists Oles Buzyna and Heorgiy Gongadze.” (USDOS, 3 March 2017, section 1e)

In its March 2017 report on the human rights situation in Ukraine between 16 November 2016 and 15 February 2017 the HRC features the following more detailed account of the investigations in the case of the May 2014 violence in Odessa:

“2 May 2014 violence in Odesa

83. More than two and a half years since the violence in Odesa on 2 May 2014, nobody has been held accountable for the death of 48 people. The investigations have progressed selectively, and the ongoing trials have been subjected to undue delays and continued interference.

84. On 2 December 2016, following the replacement of one of the judges hearing the case considering the involvement of 20 ‘pro-federalism’ supporters in mass disturbances in the city centre, the court ordered a retrial. At least five consecutive hearings on the merits were postponed due to the absence of one of the accused and the civil claimants (the Odesa Russian theatre and the Odesa department of the National Police). OHCHR is concerned that the retrial will result in further delays, most negatively affecting five individuals detained since 2 May 2014. According to OHCHR observations, the accused in this case are the victims of arbitrary detention, since their measure of restraint has been extended without sufficiently reasoned decision at least 17 times. In parallel, ‘pro-unity’ activists continue interfering in the independence of judges in regards of the five ‘pro-federalism’ detainees. On 10 February 2017, the court postponed a hearing, while the National Guard had to evacuate the five detainees, because of mass disturbances organised by ‘pro-unity’ activists in the Malynovskyi district court of Odesa. Riot police stopped the disturbances; however none of the perpetrators was arrested.

85. The only individual accused of perpetrating a killing during the 2 May 2014 events is not in custody. He is a member of ‘pro-unity’ activist groups. Around 30-40 fellow members, sometimes in camouflage, attend all of his court hearings, exerting pressure on the defendant and victims’ representative. On 5 January 2017, the court ruled to return the indictment to the prosecutor for revision, indicating unwillingness of the judges to hear this case on the merits.

86. The case concerning three officials of the State Emergency Service accused of leaving those trapped in the burning House of Trade Unions, which led to the deaths of 42 people, has also been subjected to undue delays. Only in January 2017, the prosecution finished the pre-trial investigation stage and sent the indictment to the Prymorskyi district court of Odesa, since in November 2016, the Odesa Regional Court of Appeal had returned the indictment to the prosecutor for revision.” (HRC, 16 March 2017, p. 25)

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that promotes and protects all human rights in a June 2017 report also refers to the trial of 20 anti-Maidan activist over their involvement in the May 2014 incidents in Odessa:

“78. On 15 May, in the trial of 20 members of ‘pro-federalism’ groups, which has lasted for over two years, the Malynovskyi district court of Odesa disqualified the presiding judge and two of the three judges on the bench. The case will now need to be retried from the beginning. On the same day, the Malynovskyi district court submitted an appeal requesting to transfer the case to another court as it is unable to form a new panel in compliance with the Criminal Procedure Code. OHCHR is concerned that the protracted proceedings may result in prolonged detention of five of the defendants who have been remanded in custody since May 2014.

79. By contrast, the trial of one member of ‘pro-unity’ activist groups, who is the only individual charged with killing, has not yet commenced, and he enjoys full freedom, without any measure of restraint. Three officials of the Odesa regional department of the State Emergency Service accused of failing to assist persons trapped in the burning House of Trade Unions, which resulted in 42 deaths, are also free pending trial.

80. To address public distrust in the investigation of 2 May 2014 violence, the Office of the Prosecutor General is seeking independent foreign experts to assist in defining the precise cause of death of 34 people who perished in the Trade Union building.“ (OHCHR, 13 June 2017, pp. 18-19)

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), a United Nations body of independent experts that considers reports submitted by UN member states on their compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), in an October 2016 report mentions:

“The Committee is concerned about reports that some organizations, such as the Right Sector, the Azov Civilian Corps and the Social National Assembly, promote activities that amount to incitement to racial hatred and racist propaganda. It is also concerned that such organizations are responsible for racially motivated violence against persons belonging to minority groups that has not been always punished (arts. 2 and 4).” (CERD, 4 October 2016, p. 3)

Race / Nationality

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (CoE-ECRI), a body of the Council of Europe monitoring racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, intolerance and discrimination, in a September 2017 report gives insights into provisions on racially-motivated hate crimes as well as on criminal law enforcement:

“The specific provisions on racially-motivated hate crime (hate speech and hate-motivated violence) are rarely applied and with a low conviction rate. Roma are the most frequent targets of racist violence. In 2014 and 2015 there was an increase in serious violence against LGBT persons, in some cases with the use of weapons and explosives. Racist violence committed by police continues to be reported as well as failure by police to intervene to stop racist or homophobic attacks.” (CoE-ECRI, 19 September 2017, p. 9)

“Article 161(1) of the Criminal Code punishes ‘wilful actions inciting national, racial or religious enmity and hatred, humiliation of national honour and dignity, or insulting citizens’ feelings in respect of their religious convictions’. The same paragraph then goes on to criminalise additionally ‘any direct or indirect restriction of rights, or granting direct or indirect privileges to citizens, based on race, colour of skin, political, religious and other convictions, sex, disability, ethnic and social origin, property status, place of residence, linguistic or other characteristics’. Article 161(2) punishes more severely all the above actions when accompanied by violence, deception or threats, or committed by an official.” (CoE-ECRI, 19 September 2017, p. 11)

“As concerns criminal law enforcement, ECRI notes that there were 79 prosecutions for hate-motivated offences in 2015, and only three final convictions with sentences imposed. As data covers both incitement to hatred and violence without distinction, it is impossible to ascertain how many involved hate speech. Indeed, according to NGOs, Article 161(1) of the Criminal Code has never been applied. ECRI considers the figures to be very low and regrets the minimal success rate in prosecuting and punishing this type of crime. This could indicate defects such as lack of understanding of hate crime and insufficient training of legal professionals. ECRI has also been informed that it is common during the criminal justice process to downgrade hate crime offences to acts of hooliganism which are easier to prosecute but result in lesser sentences. It regrets that by doing so, the important message that hate crime is more serious and will not be tolerated is lost. […]

ECRI welcomes a number of recent developments which could have a positive effect and help to address some of the issues of under-reporting and lack of recognition of hate crime. These include amendments to the police crime report form which include a checkbox to reflect the victim’s perception of hate as a motive; the nomination of a Contact Point on Hate Crime in the National Police in Kyiv and of special police officers at the regional level to follow up on investigations where a hate motive has been indicated by the victim; extensive police training, in particular from the OSCE, on identifying hate crime and using the new crime report form; and the collection of data on hate-motivated incidents targeting LGBT, even though no such ground currently exists in the criminal law, which has improved relations between LGBT groups and the new police. Finally, posters have been produced to encourage reporting of hate crime, featuring images of five distinct vulnerable groups: ethnic minority groups, Muslims, homosexuals, disabled and elderly people. The headline reads: ‘Being yourself is not a crime – attacking people for who they are, is a crime’. ECRI encourages the authorities to display these posters as widely as possible throughout the country.” (CoE-ECRI, 19 September 2017, p. 17)

The US broadcast institution Voice of America (VOA) in a September 2017 article refers to the situation of Roma:

“In the hours after the mutilated body of a 9-year-old girl was found in a forest near the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, rumors spread quickly that a local Roma man had been arrested - and violent retribution followed.

A meeting of local leaders the same day in August last year denounced nearby Roma as criminals and demanded evictions, while a mob circled homes, pelting buildings with rocks and trashing a community where many Roma had lived for a decade, said rights groups.

By early September, all two dozen Roma targeted, including 17 children, had fled.

A year on, they remain in temporary housing in Izmail, southwest Ukraine, and say they are unable to return home to their village of Loshchinovka for fear of further violence, according to the Roma Human Rights Center (RHRC).

Rights groups say the attack follows a pattern of xenophobic ‘pogroms’ across Ukraine against the Roma, also known as gypsies, to which the state has turned a blind eye. […]

Since Ukraine's ‘Euromaiden’ revolution of 2014, government agencies - bogged down in a series of economic and political crises and a conflict with Russian-backed forces in the east - have failed to guarantee the safety of Roma, said Volodymyr Kondur, head of Odessa RHRC. ‘The situation has become more complicated throughout Ukraine: Roma are not protected, the state is not able to provide security,’ Kondur, who works to represent the affected communities in Izmail, told Reuters.

There are between 120,000 and 400,000 Roma in Ukraine who face poverty and discrimination, with limited access to justice and their property rights barely protected, according to the European Roma Rights Centre. In the year since the Odessa riot, there have been at least eight mass attacks on Roma, in the metropolitan regions of Kyiv, Kharkiv and Lviv as well as the rural areas of Transcarpathi and Chernigov, said Kondur.

Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said 20 police officers in Odessa had undergone training since the attacks to teach them how to deal with hate crimes and investigate Roma communities without discrimination. A spokesman said police and local authorities have planned further training exercises to encourage cooperation with Roma communities, including a series of classes for Roma participants on legal rights.” (VOA, 25 September 2017)

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a United Nations agency with the mandate to protect and support refugees and assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration, or resettlement to a third country, in July 2017 provides the following information:

“The participatory assessment process aims to gather accurate information on specific protection risks faced by refugees, internally displaced persons, and persons at risk of displacement, to analyze the risks jointly with them, to understand their capacities, and to hear their proposed solutions through structured dialogue. […] The 2017 Ukraine participatory assessment utilized focus group discussions with refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, and persons at risk of displacement to listen, gather information, and conduct interactive analysis.” (UNHCR, July 2017, p. 6)

“Many participants recounted security incidents linked to xenophobia; they reported threats, beatings, harassment, intimidation and lack of protection from the authorities, particularly the police. Participants described their impressions that as foreigners they are unable to access protection or assistance, consequently they do not bother to report harassment or violent incidents. Such underreporting to the authorities conceals the real extent and severity of many acts of aggression towards asylum seekers and refugees. […]

Peaceful coexistence with local communities: One group observed that their physical, religious and cultural differences made acceptance of them by the local community difficult amid preconceptions of Muslims as religious extremists, of having few skills or education to offer, and being prone to criminality. Participants from non-CIS countries were the most prone to facing overt discrimination and harassment.” (UNHCR, July 2017, pp. 10-11)

The USDOS in its March 2017 human rights report (covering 2016) states:

“Mistreatment of minority groups and harassment of foreigners of non-Slavic appearance remained problems. NGOs dedicated to combating racism and hate crimes observed that overall xenophobic incidents declined slightly during the year.

The law criminalizes deliberate actions to incite hatred or discrimination based on nationality, race, or religion, including insulting the national honor or dignity of citizens in connection with their religious and political beliefs, race, or skin color. The law imposes increased penalties for hate crimes; premeditated killing on grounds of racial, ethnic, or religious hatred carries a 10- to 15-year prison sentence. Penalties for other hate crimes include fines of 3,400 to 8,500 hryvnias ($126 to $315) or imprisonment for up to five years.

Human rights organizations stated that the requirement to prove actual intent, including proof of premeditation, to secure a conviction made application of the law difficult. Authorities did not prosecute any of the criminal proceedings under the laws on racial, national, or religious offenses. Police and prosecutors continued to prosecute racially motivated crimes under laws against hooliganism or related offenses.

According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, authorities registered 58 criminal investigations involving racial, national, or religious hatred during the first nine months of the year. Of these cases 13 were closed and 15 were forwarded to court. The International Organization for Migration (IOM), reported as of October 31, 10 documented cases of violence against racial or ethnic minorities that involved 17 victims. Victims of the attacks were from Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Jordan, Nigeria, and Syria, as well as citizens of Tajik, Jewish, and Muslim descent. Most of the incidents occurred in Dnipropetrovsk, Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Odesa. There were cases of vandalism, including arson, targeting Jewish and Romani property in the Dnipropetrovsk, Cherkasy, and Zakarpattya Oblasts and in Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, and Mykolaev.

On January 4, the Pechersk District Court in Kyiv sentenced a participant in a racist attack at a Dynamo Kyiv football match to two years in prison. Investigations into other persons involved remained open.” (USDOS, 3 March 2017, section 6)

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in its aformentioned October 2016 report explains the following:

“The Committee is concerned at reports of racially motivated incidents and hate crimes, including physical attacks targeting individuals on the basis of their ethnic origin, such as Roma, Jews, Africans and other minorities, that have taken place in some localities of the territory of the State party. The Committee is also concerned at information on denial to African and Indians, on the basis of colour, of entrance to some public places in Uzghorod, such as the local water park. It is further concerned that cases of hate crime or other racially motivated acts are not always adequately and effectively investigated and that those responsible are not prosecuted and punished. While noting that some cases have been addressed, the Committee remains concerned at the low number of cases of hate crime brought to domestic courts (arts. 2, 4 and 6). […]

The Committee is concerned that requirements for the application of article 161 of the Criminal Code to acts of racial discrimination, such as the fact that the violation must take place during a public event and the necessity of an expert opinion, hamper the effectiveness of the article. The Committee is concerned that such requirements result in difficulties in proving racial motivation and that consequently hate offences are qualified as hooliganism (art. 2, 4, 6).“ (CERD, 4 October 2016, pp. 3-4)

“The Committee is concerned about the low number of cases of racial discrimination registered, investigated and brought to domestic courts and other bodies. It is also concerned about the lack of information related to remedies afforded to victims. The Committee notes that the State party has not provided comprehensive information concerning sanctions or compensation in cases of racial discrimination, including discrimination in employment, handled by the courts or by the Parliamentary Human Rights Commissioner. While noting the State party’s comments about equal access to justice for all and the measures put in place in that regard, including legal assistance, the Committee remains concerned about the limited extent to which minorities can effectively report instances of racial discrimination and enjoy equal access to justice (arts. 5 and 6).” (CERD, 4 October 2016, p. 7)

The Equal Rights Trust, an independent international organisation whose purpose is to combat discrimination and promote equality, in a July 2016 alternative report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination contains the following information:

“Foreign nationals and recent immigrants also face discriminatory treatment by law enforcement agencies, primarily the police, who sometimes racially profile them for the purpose of identity checks or even to extort money. The Committee has previously urged Ukraine to ‘ensure that the police do not engage in racial or ethnic profiling when conducting document checks on foreigners or members of ‘visible minorities’’. However, discriminatory profiling of minorities remains a problem. In a survey of foreign nationals conducted by the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group in the city of Kharkiv at the end of 2011, 79.1% of respondents stated that they had been detained by representatives of law enforcement agencies with the most obvious reason for this being their skin colour or appearance. In addition, 67% of respondents had had their documents checked, and 13.2% had had money extorted from them. More than half stated that law enforcement agents had detained them, despite their having the correct documentation with them, and 45% of those detained were only released after they had paid a bribe to the police. One interviewee told researchers ‘Once a policeman was asked, ‘Why do you stop us and extort money out of us constantly?’ and he replied, ‘Why? Because you are foreigners’’.” (The Equal Rights Trust, 11 July 2016, p. 6)

The Interfax-Ukraine News Agency, a company belonging to the independent Russian Interfax Information Services, in a November 2015 article provides the following information on ethnically and racially motivated cases of violence

“Ethnically and racially motivated cases of violence are not effectively investigated or tried by courts in Ukraine, with almost one half of the victims preferring not to contact the law enforcement agencies, rights activists say.

‘The 'Diversity Initiative' network registered ten events of violent actions suspected of racial motivation, which affected 17 people in the first nine months of 2015. The victims include 13 expatriates coming from Nigeria, Ghana, Jordan, Syria, Afghanistan, the DR Congo, as well as Ukrainian citizens of Tajik and Jewish origins, the Muslim religion and of a mixed parentage,’ the expert on counteracting racism and xenophobia at the International Organization for Migration in Ukraine, Yana Salakhova, told a press conference in the Interfax-Ukraine office in Kyiv.

These cases were recorded in four cities: four in Kyiv, four in Kharkiv, two in Dnipropetrovsk and one in Odesa, she said.

Nine such victims complained to the police and one case was dismissed, Salakhova said. All the other victims refused to file complaints with the law enforcement authorities. Salakhova pointed out that only one of all the documented cases contained hatred motive in the description of the nature of the offence.” (Interfax Ukraine, 10 November 2015)


References: (all links accessed 6 October 2017)

·      CERD - UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Concluding observations on the twenty-second and twenty-third periodic reports of Ukraine [CERD/C/UKR/CO/22-23], 4 October 2016 (available at ecoi.net)

·      CIS-EMO – Commonwealth of Independent States – Europe Monitoring Organization: The Problematic Issues of Access to Justice in Eastern Europe, 13 September 2017

·      CoE-ECRI - Council of Europe - European Commission against Racism and Intolerance: ECRI Report on Ukraine (fifth monitoring cycle) [CRI(2017)38], 19 September 2017 (available at ecoi.net)

·      HRC - UN Human Rights Council (formerly UN Commission on Human Rights): Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Situation of human rights in Ukraine (16 November 2015 to 15 February 2016) [A/HRC/31/CRP.7], 17 March 2016 (available at ecoi.net)

·      HRC - UN Human Rights Council: Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in Ukraine; (16 November 2016 to 15 February 2017) [A/HRC/34/CRP.5], 16 March 2017 (available at ecoi.net)

·      Interfax Ukraine: Thirteen foreigners have become victims of racism in Ukraine so far this year – expert, 10 November 2015

·      OHCHR - UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine 16 February to 15 May 2017, 13 June 2017 (available at ecoi.net)

·      RT – Russia Today: Ukrainian nationalists battle police outside court after anti-Maidan activists declared ‘not guilty’, 19 September 2017

·      Sputnik News: Odessa Massacre One Year On: Still No Answers, Still No Justice, 1 May 2015

·      The Equal Rights Trust: Alternative report submitted to the 90th session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in relation to the combined 22nd and 23rd periodic reports submitted by: Ukraine, 11 July 2016

·      UNHCR - UN High Commissioner for Refugees: Ukraine; 2017; Participatory Assessment; "We carry our tragedy inside", July 2017 (available at ecoi.net)

·      USDOS - US Department of State: Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2016 - Ukraine, 3 March 2017 (available at ecoi.net)

·      VOA - Voice of America: A Year on From Odessa 'Pogrom,' Ukraine's Roma Face Rise in Mob Justice, 25 September 2017