ENNHRI speaks out in support of the Ukrainian NHRI
Recent developments in Ukraine raise concerns regarding the tenure of the Ukrainian Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights. In response, ENNHRI has spoken out in support of the institution and addressed letters to relevant authorities. In these, it recalls the international and regional standards in place to ensure the independent and effective work of NHRIs.
In December 2021, the Ukrainian Parliament’s Committee on Rules of Procedure, Deputy Ethics and Organisation of Work approved a Draft Resolution on the establishment of a Temporary Special Commission. This would seek to verify a possible violation of oath by the Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Draft Resolution has now been sent to the Parliament’s Plenary, which is expected to discuss the proposal on 18 January 2022. If approved, it would formally trigger the process of a possible dismissal of the current Commissioner.
ENNHRI is concerned, given a series of attacks that the Commissioner has faced from parliamentarians. In response, ENNHRI has sent letters to the President of Ukraine, the Speaker and other members of the Ukrainian Parliament calling for all national authorities to fully respect the relevant international and regional standards.
According to the UN Paris Principles and the Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA) General Observation, the head of an NHRI must be able to undertake their responsibilities without fear and inappropriate interference from the State and other actors. A stable mandate must be ensured for Heads of NHRIs, with an enabling environment created that facilitates their and their institutions’ independence and effectiveness.
The grounds for dismissal must be clearly defined, confined to actions that negatively impact the capacity of the Head of the NHRI to fulfil their mandate, and based on serious misconduct or incompetence. Any assessment of dismissal should be done in accordance with fair procedures set out in national law that ensure objectivity and impartiality.
These requirements are also rooted in the recent Recommendation on NHRIs from the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers and the Principles on the Protection and Promotion of the Ombudsman Institution (the “Venice Principles”).
ENNHRI remains available to further clarify the applicable standards and to cooperate on this matter.