As readers of this blog will be aware, as this is not the first time the UK FCO Human Rights Report has been featured.
Every year the Foreign & Commonwealth Office issues a report on what it has done (or not) with regards to human rights around the globe, the threats it sees and the action it takes to mitigate such threats.
A few days ago, the FCO Human Rights Reoprt 2011 was released. A lengthy document consisting of 392 pages. Undeniably the past 12 month reporting period has been a busy one.
There is though, only one reference to Ukraine throughout the entire document that I can find, which reads:
“On 19 December, Ukraine concluded negotiations on an association agreement with the European Union that includes human rights requirements. That marked the end of a year in which Ukraine’s respect for democratic principles and the rule of law had been called into question, principally over the detention, trial and convictions of opposition political leaders. Independent experts, including the Danish Helsinki Committee, identified serious flaws in trials that were widely judged to be politically motivated. The Prime Minister told the House of Commons that the treatment of former Prime Minister Tymoshenko was “disgraceful” and the Foreign Secretary issues a statement expressing his deep concern. The Minister for Europe issued a similar statement when an appeal court upheld Ms Tymoshenko’s conviction and sentence. The UK and the EU have made clear that to ensure that the association agreement is ratified, Ukraine must demonstrate that it can live up to EU principles.”
That, as far as any mention of Ukraine goes, is your lot in the hefty tome of UK human rights positions via the FCO.
Not an awful lot. No mention of whether the UK is supporting (or not) the supposed “fast tracking” of Ms Tymoshenko’s ECfHR appeal which you would think would be poignant as the UK currently holds the Presidency of the Council of Europe and is the driving force behind reforms of the ECfHR.
I know that the UK does support the fast tracking of her case through the ECfHR, but the report doesn’t say so.
Also no mention of the 80+ Somalian refugees indefinitely detained near the EU border. No mention of human trafficking. No mention of any human rights issues in Ukraine other than Ms Tymoshenko and a vague reference to “other trials”. At 392 pages long, a brief mention of the other issues, even if it meant the report went to 393 pages long, really would not have hurt anybody would it?
Returning to Ms Tymoshenko, one has to hope that such support is robust, given the statements referred to in the quote above, and the fact that whether she is guilty or innocent of the actual allegations, a fair trial must be the method to reach that verdict.
The issue as I have written here numerous times, is not her guilt or innocence from an EU perspective, but the method used to reach that conclusion. In her case, that methodology was flawed (just as in so many other cases that the EU have ignored for everyday Ukrainians for decades) and a transparent due process lacking.
As an aside, recognising the system is flawed for so many other Ukrainians, one wonders how the EU can deny everyday Ukrainians Visas based on the fact they have a criminal record when they received that criminal record through the same system they now decry over Ms Tymoshenko and former colleagues. If we believe one of the core human rights for everybody is equality before the law and a fair due process, the system is either flawed for all Ukrainians or it isn’t. (And we know that it is.) Therefore legal rulings resulting in a dubious criminal record, thus preventing a Visa to the EU being granted in the future must be of less than solid foundation as far as grounds for refusal very often as well. - Hmm.
It all gets rather messy and unfair when decrying a system as seriously flawed and yet accepting some results for some Ukrainians and dismissing results from the same seriously flawed system for others.
Anyway, a very long read for those of you who want to know what the UK FCO is doing about human rights around the world. As far as Ukraine is concerned, as you can see from the quote, for now, it is making public statements! (And hopefully much more behind the scenes that will never see the light of public scrutiny.)