Annual Report: Ukraine 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Ukraine 2010

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Head of state Viktor Yushchenko
Head of government Yuliya Timoshenko
Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes
Population 45.7 million
Life expectancy 68.2 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 18/13 per 1,000
Adult literacy 99.7 per cent

Refugees and asylum-seekers were at risk of forcible return. People detained pending extradition had no possibility to challenge the legality of extradition and detention. The authorities failed to respond adequately to racist attacks. Reports of torture and illtreatment in police detention continued, and perpetrators of human rights violations enjoyed impunity. Freedom of assembly continued to be under threat.

Rights of refugees and asylum-seekers

Ukraine continued to violate the right to asylum by failing to provide adequate and fair asylum procedures and by refoulement, or forcibly returning asylum seekers and refugees to countries where they faced the risk of serious human rights violations. During the year Amnesty International raised four cases of refoulement with the Ukrainian government. On 25 August, changes to a Council of Ministers Regulation governing the entry of foreigners and stateless persons to Ukraine came into force. This required nationals of listed countries and stateless people to carry at least 12,620 Ukrainian hryvna (about €1,000). The application of this new regulation to asylum-seekers was contrary to international refugee law, and it amounted to refoulement.

  • On 31 August, six nationals of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) arrived at Boryspil airport, but were not allowed to leave the airport and were deported to the DRC via Dubai on 2 September. Reportedly, one of them was beaten when he tried to claim asylum; his claim was ignored and he was then drugged to make him sleep. According to the State Border Guard Service, the DRC nationals were not allowed to enter Ukraine because they had less than €1,000 each.
  • The Prosecutor General exercised his right to oversee the legality of all court decisions and overturned the decisions which had granted refugee status to 15 asylum-seekers from Afghanistan, Belarus and Uzbekistan. He based his decision on minor omissions, such as the absence of a medical check or the failure to document employment in the country of origin. According to UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, these do not constitute legitimate grounds to refuse refugee status. The asylum-seekers had no avenue of appeal against decisions of the Prosecutor General.

Torture and other Ill-treatment/impunity

There were continued reports of torture and other ill-treatment by law enforcement officials and of the authorities' failure to carry out effective and independent investigations into such allegations. Between January and October, 13 human rights NGOs belonging to the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union received 165 complaints about torture and other ill-treatment, of which 100 related to police actions. Ukraine ratified the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture in 2006, but had still not set up a national mechanism for monitoring places of detention in accordance with its obligations under the Protocol.