Freedom House calls on Rada to consult with civil society before choosing Ombudsman

As Ukraine`s parliament debates selection of a new Ombudsman, who has a vital role in calling attention to human rights and democratic governance issues, Freedom House suggests that Rada consider postponing the vote to ensure participation of civil society in the decision-making process.

”We urge the Rada to consider a wide range of candidates and to consult closely with civil society, postponing the formal parliamentary vote if necessary,” said Marc Behrendt, director of the organization`s Eurasia programs.

”The institution of the Ombudsman has significantly contributed to improving human rights in  Ukraine and deserves a careful, open selection process. To be effective, the institution should be politically independent, have a formal mandate from the Rada, and the support and participation of civil society,” he said.

The Ombudsman, formally known as the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, is selected by Ukraine`s parliament. The Human Rights Agenda, a coalition of Ukrainian human rights organizations, called for an open selection process and also suggested four candidates for the post.  However, on May 24 the Rada human rights committee is scheduled to consider three candidates selected without consultation with civil society, potentially compromising the ombudsman`s independence.

Ukraine is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2017, Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2017, Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2016, and receives a democracy score of 4.61, on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2017.

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