KyivPost

US congressman wants to ban visas for certain Ukrainian officials

Print version
July 17, 2012, 8:58 a.m. |

U.S. Rep Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) wants to deny US visas "to Ukrainian officials involved in serious human rights abuses, anti-democratic actions, or corruption that undermines or injures democratic institutions in Ukraine, including officials responsible for and participating in the selective prosecution and persecution of political opponents
© AFP

Chairman Smith introduces measure calling on Ukrainian authorities to release political opposition leaders and hold free and fair elections Calls for visa bans on human rights violators

 WASHINGTON–Responding to the selective prosecution of opposition political leaders, including former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, by the Ukrainian government, Rep. Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, today introduced a resolution promoting human rights and democracy in that country. The resolution demands that the Ukrainian government cease selective prosecutions, free Tymoshenko and other officials of the former government currently in prison, and act to ensure a democratic, fair
and transparent election process in the run-up to the Oct. 28 parliamentary elections. 

“Under President Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine has seen an alarming decline in its democratic development,” said Rep. Smith, Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission. “This resolution outlines measures the Ukrainian government must take, consistent with its OSCE obligations, to reverse the backsliding. Congress has a longstanding record of supporting the Ukrainian people in building an independent, democratic Ukraine based on the rule of law and respect for human rights. Americans are profoundly interested in Ukraine’s independence and future democratic evolution.”

With Ukraine’s impending leadership of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe – the country will be Chair-in-Office for 2013 – the resolution urges the Ukrainian government to take immediate measures to reverse the current anti-democratic course and display exemplary conduct, especially in human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law. To underscore the seriousness of concerns about Ukraine’s democratic regression, the resolution calls for denying U.S. visas to Ukrainian officials involved in serious human rights abuses, anti-democratic actions, such as
electoral fraud, or corruption, including officials involved in the selective prosecution and persecution of political opponents.

On May 17, Chairman Smith chaired a Helsinki Commission hearing addressing the upcoming elections and imprisonment of opposition leaders.

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent agency of the Federal Government charged with monitoring compliance with the Helsinki
Accords and advancing comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental and military cooperation in 56 countries. The Commission consists of nine members from the U.S. Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.

HRES 730 IH

112th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. RES. 730

Urging the Government of Ukraine to ensure free and fair parliamentary
elections on October 28, 2012, by adhering to democratic standards,
establishing a transparent electoral process and releasing opposition
leaders sentenced on politically motivated grounds.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

July 13, 2012

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey submitted the following resolution; which was
referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the
Committee on the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined
by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as
fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

________________________________

RESOLUTION

Urging the Government of Ukraine to ensure free and fair parliamentary
elections on October 28, 2012, by adhering to democratic standards,
establishing a transparent electoral process and releasing opposition
leaders sentenced on politically motivated grounds.

Whereas Ukraine's independence and future democratic evolution is of
vital importance to the Euro-Atlantic community;

Whereas, since the restoration of Ukraine's independence 21 years ago,
the United States and Ukraine have maintained a strong relationship,
as evidenced by the United States-Ukraine Charter on Strategic
Partnership and Ukraine has played a vital, active, and constructive
role in enhancing global security;

Whereas Ukraine stands at a critical juncture in its development to a
more fully democratic country, and the parliamentary elections on
October 28, 2012, will play a highly significant role in demonstrating
the seriousness of the Ukrainian authorities' commitment to democracy
and respect for human rights and the rule of law;

Whereas, since Viktor Yanukovych became President of Ukraine in
February 2010, Ukraine has seen serious setbacks to its democratic
development, including the concentration of power in the hands of the
president and his Party of Regions;

Whereas the Yanukovych administration has engaged in the abusive
practice of selective justice, targeting leading opposition political
figures for prosecution;

Whereas the most stark manifestation of Ukraine's democratic
backsliding has been the politically motivated prosecution and
imprisonment of former Prime Minister and opposition leader Yulia
Tymoshenko, former Interior Minister and opposition leader Yuri
Lutsenko, and former acting Defense Minister Valery Ivashchenko;

Whereas Ms. Tymoshenko and other imprisoned senior former government
officials have been denied access to proper medical care;

Whereas, since Ms. Tymoshenko's imprisonment, the Prosecutor General
has reopened additional highly questionable, politically motivated
cases against her, some of which were previously closed and reported
to be sealed under a 10-year statute of limitations;

Whereas the continued imprisonment and prohibition from participation
in the October parliamentary elections of Ms. Tymoshenko and Mr.
Lutsenko makes it impossible for the international community to assess
these elections as having fully met international democratic
standards;

Whereas according to the Department of State's 2011 Country Report on
Human Rights Practices, serious and salient human rights problems in
Ukraine include the Government of Ukraine's measures to limit freedom
of peaceful assembly, increased government pressure on independent
media outlets and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and pervasive
corruption in all branches of government, all of which could have a
detrimental impact on the upcoming election process;

Whereas the Freedom in the World Indexes for 2011 and 2012 prepared by
Freedom House have downgraded Ukraine's rating from `Free' to a
`Partly Free' country under conditions created by the current
government;

Whereas Ukraine's past 4 national elections, 2 presidential and 2
parliamentary, received positive assessments from the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)-led international
observation missions;

Whereas the October 2010 nationwide local elections, in contrast, fell
short of democratic standards, according to credible domestic and
international observers;

Whereas the Government of Ukraine can restore some measure of
credibility by impartially administering the elections, allowing the
campaign environment in which candidates, campaign activists, and
observers can operate free from harassment and intimidation, ensuring
the transparent and equitable formation of territorial and precinct
election commissions, and respecting and adhering to the legal
framework for the election;

Whereas Ukraine will assume the leadership of the OSCE as the
Chair-in-Office for 2013 and can expect closer scrutiny of its OSCE
commitments; and

Whereas the Government of Ukraine can demonstrate its commitment to
democracy by conducting a free, fair, and transparent parliamentary
election process, as the quality of this process will determine the
course of the future relations between the United States and Ukraine:
Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1)   demands that President Yanukovych and the Government of Ukraine cease selective prosecutions, free Mrs. Tymoshenko and the other senior officials of the previous government currently in detention,
and restore their full political and civil rights;

(2)   urges the Government of Ukraine to ensure full respect of the legal and human rights of all prisoners sentenced on politically motivated grounds, including the right to medical care, in line with
international standards;

(3)   calls for denying United States visas to Ukrainian officials involved in serious human rights abuses, anti-democratic actions, or corruption that undermines or injures democratic institutions in Ukraine, including officials responsible for and participating in the selective prosecution and persecution of political opponents;

(4)   urges the Government of Ukraine to meet its commitments on free and fair elections, as delineated in the 1990 Copenhagen Document of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), with respect to the entire campaign process, including formation of election commissions, nomination of candidates, campaign, voting, count, tabulation, and processing of election challenges and complaints;

(5) urges the Ukrainian authorities to ensure--

(A) the full transparency of election procedures before, during, and
after the 2012 parliamentary elections;

(B) free access for domestic and international election observers;

(C) balanced and fair representation on all election commissions;

(D) unimpeded access by all parties and candidates to print, radio,
television, and Internet media on a non-discriminatory basis; and

(E) the freedom of candidates, members of opposition parties, and
independent media organizations from intimidation or harassment by
government officials at all levels;

(6)   urges that the courts of Ukraine address all election-related
complaints objectively and in timely fashion;

(7)   encourages the Government of Ukraine to take immediate measures
to reverse the current anti-democratic course and display exemplary
conduct as the incoming 2013 OSCE Chair-in-Office by adhering to its
OSCE commitments, especially in the areas of human rights and
fundamental freedoms, democracy, and the rule of law;

(8)   expresses its continuing strong support for the efforts of
Ukrainian citizens to establish democracy based on the rule of law and
respect for human rights; and

(9) reaffirms its ongoing support for Ukraine's independence,
sovereignty, and territorial integrity, and assumption of Ukraine's
rightful place as a full member of the international community of
democracies.

The Kyiv Post is hosting comments to foster lively public debate through the Disqus system. Criticism is fine, but stick to the issues. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks will be removed from the site. The Kyiv Post will ban flagrant violators. If you think that a comment or commentator should be banned, please flag the offending material.
comments powered by Disqus

KyivPost

© 1995–2014 Public Media

Web links to Kyiv Post material are allowed provided that they contain a URL hyperlink to the www.kyivpost.com material and a maximum 500-character extract of the story. Otherwise, all materials contained on this site are protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced without the prior written permission of Public Media at news@kyivpost.com
All information of the Interfax-Ukraine news agency placed on this web site is designed for internal use only. Its reproduction or distribution in any form is prohibited without a written permission of Interfax-Ukraine.