More than 80 cases of harassment of public activists in Ukraine documented by human rights groups in 2019 – report
There were more than 83 documented cases of harassment of public activists recorded in Ukraine in 2019, according to the report, titled "The Status of Human Rights Defenders and Public Activists in Ukraine in 2019," prepared by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, ZMINA and Truth Hounds, with the support of Freedom House. The report was presented in Kyiv on Monday, January 27.
According to the report, in 2019, one murder of a public activist was committed, 25 incidents related to physical attacks, 20 involved threats, intimidation and other means of pressure, 11 resulted in the destruction and damage of property, 11 attacks on peaceful assemblies, six involved legal prosecution, three with hindering the activities of a public organization and illegal detention and search, two involved a campaign to discredit activists and one resulted in the surveillance of an activist.
According to the report, last year 22 cases of persecution of advocates of LGBT rights and gender equality were recorded. Some 15 activists were prosecuted for anti-corruption activities, 14 incidents were committed against activists opposing illegal construction, 11 – for other civic activities, five related to the protection of the environment and the rights of women, four – to the protection of the rights of national minorities, two – to counteraction to violations of election laws and journalistic activities and one involved protecting the rights of HIV-positive, convicted and unionized people.
According to the report, every fifth attack was carried out by members of the right-wing groups. According to the study, Kyiv became the leader in the number of incidents in 2019. Some 32 cases of persecution of activists and human rights defenders were recorded. Odesa and Kharkiv regions came next, with 15 and 9 incidents, respectively, and four cases reported in Dnipropetrovsk region.
According to Vyacheslav Lykhachov, an analyst at the ZMINA Human Rights Center, the level of persecution of activists "remains dangerously high."
As noted by Lykhachov, the study did not affect cases of attacks and harassment related to political activities.
"We did not document in the final report the cases that related to political activities ... We generally refused to monitor attacks related to political activities ... This is precisely an obstacle to peaceful meetings and attacks on human rights activities," he said.