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Monitoring of Persecution of Human Rights Defenders and Anti-corruption Activists in Ukraine

Despite improved freedom rankings and reforms since the “Euromaidan” revolution in 2014, the environment for the work of human rights defenders and anti-corruption activists in Ukraine remains unfavourable. With the focus of international organisations and human rights groups active in Ukraine shifting devotion to the humanitarian situation in the conflict affected Donbas and politically-motivated persecutions in the illegally annexed Crimea, territories under the control of the government in Kyiv remain largely undiscussed. According to previous monitoring conducted by ZMINA Human Rights Centre and the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, since 2014, over 100 cases of criminal and administrative prosecutions of human rights defenders and anti-corruption activists, threats, physical violence and smear campaigns were documented.

The vast majority of violent attacks have not been effectively investigated, which results in perpetrators not being held accountable and undermines effective human rights defence in Ukraine. An environment that lacks effective investigations by the law enforcement and judiciary fosters a climate that encourages new attacks. This, in turn, impairs human rights defenders and anti-corruption activists who perform watchdog roles or who strive for a safe space where meaningful engagement with public life can take place. Threats as such and legislative changes have had a chilling effect on society, making it increasingly more difficult for human rights defenders and anti-corruption activists to perform their crucial role in society.

In order to combat this effect on civil society, and encourage human rights defenders to remain active, the NHC, in partnership with ZMINA Human Rights Centre, are implementing a project, entitled “Increasing the Role and Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Ukraine,” with financial support from the European Union. This project aims to stimulate public demand for defence of human rights in Ukraine, which will help to remove obstacles for independent civil society and the Ukrainian society as a whole. One of the ways of doing so is by producing quarterly and annual reports that provide full and up-to-date information about the pressure and risks human rights defenders and anti-corruption activists face. These reports are created to inform representatives of the government, media, international missions, partner organizations, and the general public.

The following reports on the persecution of activists and human rights defenders in Ukraine have been published:

The contents of these publication are the sole responsibility of ZMINA Human Rights Centre and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union.