15:01 16.02.2021

Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors records 52 cases of pressure on civil activists

3 min read

From July to December 2020, the Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors (UMDPL) recorded 52 incidents related to pressure on civil activists, human rights defenders and journalists throughout Ukraine, the organization's Deputy Executive Director Hanna Rozhkova said.

"In 2020, for the period from July to December, the UMDPL recorded 52 incidents of pressure on activists, human rights defenders and journalists throughout Ukraine," Rozhkova said at a press briefing titled "Presentation of Results of Study of Security of Civil Society Representatives in Ukraine" in Kyiv on Tuesday.

The most "popular" type of pressure on civil activists, monitors of the UMDPL named property damage.

In addition, they recorded six cases of damage and arson of activists' cars, some 11 cases of physical assault, ten cases of threats and seven cases of verbal discrediting. Most often, incidents occurred in Kyiv, Kyiv region and Odesa, as well as in Kharkiv and Lviv regions.

Over the year, the number of cases of obstruction of peaceful assemblies increased significantly, which was influenced by restrictive quarantine measures and the selectivity of their application by the police.

A feature in 2020, according to Rozhkova, was the periodic monthly recording of the facts of the establishment of funeral symbols near the premises of activists.

A survey conducted among victims of pressure showed that their psycho-emotional state and everyday habits have worsened. Moreover, they are not satisfied with the way the government ensures their safety.

At the same time, the victims noted an increase in the level of motivation to fight for public interests and an increase in their professional contacts.

Coordinator of monitoring campaigns of the Association UMDPL Serhiy Pernykoza said that in most cases, investigations into attacks on activists are carried out by the National Police of Ukraine, sometimes by the State Bureau of Investigations. However, he said, investigations are still very slow and ineffective.

"The speed of investigations depends strongly on how high-profile the cases are. If the head of state, the Verkhovna Rada deputies say that it is necessary to investigate, then the police investigate. If this is not and there is no press attention, the investigation is carried out very slowly and ineffectively," Pernykoza said.

He also said that in Ukraine "there is still no established and understandable mechanism on how to ensure preventive security measures for activists, which can negatively affect their existence and lead to repetitions of offenses."

The UMDPL coordinator said that the police pay special attention to the development of a crime prevention system and proper performance of official duties. At the same time, in his opinion, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, together with the SBU and the Prosecutor General's Office, should contribute to the introduction of an orderly system for providing security measures.