Ukraine: Rights Must Be Respected During Martial Law

Washington

Following the Ukrainian Parliament's approval of a declaration of martial law made by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Freedom House issued the following statement:

"The Ukrainian government must carefully balance national security and human rights considerations as it responds to security threats in the Sea of Azov and implements provisions of the declaration of martial law," said Marc Behrendt, Regional Director for Europe & Eurasia Programs. "The declaration removes protections on a number of fundamental freedoms, particularly the freedoms of assembly, movement, and expression. We urge the Ukrainian government to limit implementation of any restrictions to those which are focused on the specific security threat, rather than broadly applied. Any restrictions to fundamental freedoms must be transparently justified and consistent with a democratic society.  The fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution must be maximally protected in Ukraine, particularly ahead of its 2019 electoral season."

Background:

On November 25, three Ukrainian naval vessels were attacked  by Russian forces as they tried to leave the area near the Kerch Strait Bridge. Six Ukrainian crew members were captured by Russian special forces. On November 26, President Poroshenko demanded the immediate release of Ukrainian sailors and vessels.  Poroshenko, along with the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, called for a period of martial law in order to repel “armed aggression” and ensure national security.  The Verkhovna Rada passed the legislation on November 26, which will remain active for 30 days

Ukraine is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2018, Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2017, Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2018, and receives a democracy score of 4.64, on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2018.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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