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Protection of election rights and freedom of speech under Council of Europe mechanisms halted in Ukraine back in 2022, Justice Ministry says

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Protection of election rights and freedom of speech under Council of Europe mechanisms halted in Ukraine back in 2022, Justice Ministry says

In March 2022, Ukraine declared its right to exemption from obligations outlined in the Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), covering areas such as elections and property rights.

Source: statement from Ukraine’s Justice Ministry, as reported by European Pravda

Details: The Ministry of Justice explained that it exercised its right to temporarily derogate from its obligations under emergency conditions in early March 2022 after the start of the full-scale Russian invasion.

„A notification on the possibility of applying restrictions on certain rights in connection with the introduction of martial law in 2022 was sent to the secretary general of the Council of Europe almost immediately after its introduction, which is part of Ukraine’s international obligations,“ the statement said.

In particular, the Ministry of Justice stressed that three articles had been derogated since March 2022: No. 1 (protection of private property), No. 2 (right to education), and No. 3 (right to freedom of elections). Earlier, European Pravda mistakenly reported that these articles had been added to the updated list in 2024.

In addition, the Ministry of Justice confirmed the information released by European Pravda that in a communiqué dated 4 April 2024, Ukraine announced that it was renewing its commitments to respect certain human rights. In particular, the derogations will not apply to the prohibition of discrimination, restrictions on the political activity of foreigners, the right to reparation, freedom of thought, and certain aspects of forced labour. These commitments were also suspended in 2022.

„We once again revised the list of existing restrictions and reduced it in April 2024,“ Justice Minister Denys Maliuska said.

The procedure of notifying citizens of possible restrictions on certain rights due to military operations has been in place before. Back in 2015, Ukraine suspended its obligations to comply with certain articles of the ECHR due to the anti-terrorist operation in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts (The ATO, or Anti-Terrorist Operation, is a term used from 2014 to 2018 by the media, the government of Ukraine and the OSCE to identify combat actions in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts against Russian military forces and pro-Russian separatists – ed.).

As a member state of the Council of Europe, Ukraine is obliged to comply with the human rights standards set out in the ECHR; in case of violation, individuals or organisations may file a lawsuit against Ukraine with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. However, the Convention gives member states the right to declare a reasoned derogation from certain obligations due to special circumstances, including military aggression.

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