Blueprint Urges U.S. Role in Ukraine’s Push for Democracy
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today released a blueprint for the U.S. government on how to promote Ukraine’s democracy. The blueprint comes as Ukraine is set to vote in legislative elections next week. It outlines recommendations for the U.S. government to assist Ukraine as it struggles to address a series of challenges, including corruption, hate crime, and the struggle to develop civil society. Human Rights First notes that democracy development and the rule of law must be dealt with simultaneously in Ukraine, where there is conflict in the east, a shaky economy, and energy dependence on a hostile Russia.
“A failure by the U.S. government and Ukraine’s other friends to hold the new government to its full international human rights obligations is ultimately self-defeating. A strong, stable, democratic Ukraine promoting human rights and the rule of law is in the best interests of the European Union, the United States, and the region,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley, author of today’s blueprint. “The United States and other countries should help Ukraine fulfill its human rights obligations. A Ukraine which does not make space for the new politics to breathe is more likely to be unstable, volatile, and at risk of further political convulsions in the form of mass protests.”
The crisis in Ukraine presents the greatest threat to European stability since the end of the Cold War and ranks as a major foreign policy priority for the United States. The country sits at the new fault line between the political east and west, and it represents a key and stark test in the struggle between democracy and authoritarianism, between human rights and repression.
“The European Union and the United States should avoid making Ukraine a ‘Cold War battlefield,’ but rather help Ukraine become a strong vibrant economy and democracy,” said Dooley.
The blueprint recommends a number of steps the U.S. government should take as part of its bilateral and multilateral diplomatic engagement with Ukraine. The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) should implement these recommendations, and Congress should support their implementation through its funding and oversight functions. The blueprint’s recommendations include:
- Support the fight against corruption in Ukraine by vigorously implementing Presidential Proclamation 7750, which denies corrupt Ukrainian officials who solicit or accept bribes, as well as their family members and dependents who benefit from the corruption, entry to the United States . This keeps foreign corrupt officials from benefiting from U.S. resources or finding a safe haven in the United States.
- Encourage the government of Ukraine to fully utilize asset recovery proceedings in the United States through the U.S. Department of Justice Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. This initiative recovers assets earned through corruption that have previously been hidden in U.S. financial institutions and seeks to deter future hiding of corrupt assets in the United States.
- Offer technical support to law enforcement agencies in investigating the Maidan and other protest-related killings to ensure a competent, thorough investigation which has the confidence of the public and that results in credible prosecutions or other means of holding accountable those responsible.
- Offer technical support to Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and education officials on monitoring, preventing, investigating, and prosecuting violent hate crime and combating hate speech. Offer financial support to NGOs working to monitor hate crime incidents and assist victims.
- Push for access of international monitors to Crimea to document human rights violations, as well as for those who are responsible for human rights violations in Crimea to be brought to account.
- Publicly criticize the refusal to protect the 2014 Kiev Pride march in the 2014 State Department Human Rights Report and remind the new Ukrainian government that LGBT rights are human rights.
- Publish on the U.S. Embassy website, translated into Ukrainian, Russian, and other languages as appropriate, the 2013 U.S. Guidelines for Supporting Human Rights Defenders. This will help bring clarity to civil society’s expectations of what assistance it can and cannot expect from the U.S. embassy and government.