Ukraine (CCPR 9 February 2022)
The Committee considered the eighth periodic report of Ukraine1 at its 3820th and 3821st meetings,2 held on 25 and 26 October 2021, in hybrid format owing to restrictions imposed in connection with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. At its 3833rd meeting, held on 4 November 2021, it adopted the present concluding observations.
Concluding observations on the eighth periodic report
C. Principal subjects of concern and recommendations
13. Despite the legislative initiatives to expand the grounds for discrimination in law, including by adding gender identity and sexual orientation as protective grounds, the Committee is concerned about the lack of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation in line with the provisions of the Covenant. The Committee notes with concern the lack of information from the State party about the steps taken to address stigma and discriminatory attitudes towards multiple groups, including ethnic minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, internally displaced persons and persons with disabilities, and to promote sensitivity and respect for diversity among the general public. The Committee is also concerned about cases of Roma not being able to gain access to the courts to defend their rights because they lack identification documents (arts. 2 and 26).
14. The State party should adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation to
ensure that its legal framework provides: (a) effective protection against discrimination in all spheres, including in the private sphere, and prohibits direct, indirect and multiple discrimination; (b) a comprehensive list of prohibited grounds for discrimination, including colour, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity, or other status, in line with the Covenant; and (c) for effective remedies in cases of violations. It should also take concrete steps, such as comprehensive awareness-raising campaigns and activities, to address stigma and discriminatory attitudes and promote sensitivity and respect for diversity among the general public. In line with paragraph 4 of the Order of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 701-r of 11 September 2013, the State party should intensify its efforts to assist Roma persons in obtaining identification documents.
Hate speech and hate crimes
15. While noting the legislative measures taken by the State party to combat hate speech and hate crimes, the Committee is concerned about reports of intolerance, prejudice, hate speech and hate crimes against members of vulnerable and minority groups, including Roma, Hungarians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Crimean Tatars and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, in the media and often perpetrated by extreme right-wing groups. The Committee is also concerned about reports indicating that the majority of hate crimes against members of minority groups are not classified as such under article 161 of the Criminal Code. It regrets the very low number of complaints, investigations and convictions for hate crimes, as well as the reports indicating that amicable settlements have been mediated under article 161 of the Criminal Code instead of prioritizing access to judicial remedy. In particular, it notes with concern the slow pace of the investigations and lack of convictions in respect of the attacks on Roma settlements in Kyiv, Ternopil and Lviv in 2018 and the attacks that occurred in 2019 against seven members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community participating in a pride event in Kyiv (arts. 2, 19–20 and 26).
16. The State party should:
(a) Consider reviewing its legislation to explicitly prohibit hate crimes in accordance with the Covenant and strengthen its efforts to combat intolerance, stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination against members of vulnerable and minority groups, including Roma, Hungarians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Crimean Tatars and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, including by increasing training for law enforcement personnel, prosecutors and members of the judiciary and by conducting awareness-raising campaigns;
(b) Encourage the reporting of hate crimes and hate speech and ensure that such crimes are identified and registered, including through the establishment of a comprehensive system for collecting disaggregated data;
(c) Strengthen the capacity of law enforcement officers to investigate hate crimes and criminal hate speech, including on the Internet, reinforce the training of judges and prosecutors and ensure that all cases are systematically investigated, that perpetrators are held accountable with penalties commensurate with the seriousness of the crime and that victims have access to full reparation.
Freedom of expression
47. The Committee is concerned about:
(a) Continued reports of intimidation, persecution and assaults committed by, among others, members of extreme right-wing groups against journalists and human rights defenders, particularly activists working against corruption and to promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons and gender equality;
(b) Systematic flaws in investigations and delays in criminal proceedings, in particular in the cases of Oles Buzina (2015), Pavlo Sheremet (2016) and Vadym Komarov (2019), whose murders have not yet been solved;
(c) The lack of adequate safeguards, including judicial oversight, to ensure that restrictive measures on freedom of expression on national security grounds conform with article 19 of the Covenant and the Committee’s general comment No. 34 (2011);
(d) Reports that journalists’ sources of information have been disclosed, in particular in high-profile cases of corruption, despite the October 2019 amendment to the law on the prevention of corruption defining the legal status, rights and guarantees of whistleblowers (arts. 2, 6–7, 14 and 19).
48. The State party should prohibit officials from interfering with the legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression of human rights defenders and journalists, guarantee defenders’ and journalists’ effective protection against any kind of threat, pressure, intimidation or attack and ensure that illegal acts are thoroughly investigated and that those responsible are appropriately charged and brought to justice. The State party should ensure that any restrictions on the right to freedom of opinion on national security grounds comply fully with the strict requirements of article 19 of the Covenant and the Committee’s general comment No. 34 (2011). It should also ensure, in law and in practice, the protection of the confidentiality of journalistic sources, including through adequate judicial safeguards to prevent undue interference in the right tofreedom of expression.