Opora

From 6 to 9 October, the second stage of trainings for 35 candidates for electoral rights ombudsmen was held in Kyiv. It is conducted under the project “Electoral reform to strengthen the power of agents of change and support public dialog”, financed by European Union.

This time, the training program was scheduled for 4 days, from morning till night. The participants have efficiently used every minute and demonstrated a good endurance.

Analyst of the Civil Network OPORA Oleksandr Kliuzhev welcomed the participants and emphasized that the success of ombudsmen network will depend on each person. “I think that OPORA has managed to find and unite competent and well-trained individuals, who are able to guarantee a professional protection of electoral rights of citizens. It is important to focus on the development of a comprehensive action plan to assist in a fair and true election process in Ukraine. It is a good start, but the success of ombudsmen network will depend on each of us. I would like to mention that this program should become an example for subjects of electoral process. They also should think about personnel and content of their activities and protection of their own legal interests. Unfortunately, the candidates often do not conduct a systematic collection of information about and evidences of electoral violations. Each individual should strive to improve the election process from his/her position,” – he emphasized.

Legal Advisor of the Civil Network OPORA Olha Kotsiuruba said that the participants of Electoral Ombudsmen School became a team before the second stage. “I have noticed on the second stage of the School that the participants have turned from mere candidates representing different regions into a team, laughing at the same jokes, disputing, protecting each other, and offering help. Our enthusiastic discussion of the types of violations demonstrated that the protection of elections and their fairness is not a declaration for School participants, but a real value. Whether they will be selected as electoral ombudsmen, or not, they will protect these values of equality and freedom of will expression,” – she stated.

The first day was dedicated to theory and practice of communication. The future ombudsmen learned about lifehacks for communication with mass media from the Director General of the Interfax-Ukraine News Agency Oleksandr Martynenko.

Besides that, they learned how to feel relaxed before the camera and answer provocative questions together with camera crew of hromadske.ua comprising journalist Natalka Ponomariv and cameraman Oleksandr Morozys.

Communications Manager of Civil Network OPORA Kateryna Zhemchuzhnykova told how it is better to write posts in social networks.

In the evening, OPORA's CivicTech expert Yurii Lisovskyi told about open data, OPORA's servers and fundamentals of digital security.

Candidate for electoral ombudsmen Yevhen Hurnytskyi from the city of Kropyvnytskyi believes this training helped to understand a role of electoral rights activists in the regions. “An ombudsman protects not only human rights, but also a common sense and human dignity. Electoral rights ombudsman guarantees the hopes of society for a fair and transparent electoral process. Having realized that I am responsible personally, impartial, and experienced in human rights issues, I believe that such institution is a must in a democratic society, and I am ready to assist in its introduction,” – he stated.

The second day included a theoretic part dedicated to criminal offenses related to the elections, and liability for them. Besides that, participants of the School have learned on specific examples how to classify these violations under the certain articles of Criminal Code of Ukraine. Associate Professor of Lviv Ivan Franko National University Vasyl Lutsyk explained the topic down to the fine points. This extremely important and long day finished with a movie about political technologies and the importance of communication in them.

Candidate for electoral ombudsman Yuliia Cheberiak from Kyiv believes that the development of a civic network for election watchdog will promote democratic changes in the country. “It is not enough to make a conscious choice during elections, which are not always held democratically and transparently. The development of a civic network for election watchdog, particularly civic involvement in the monitoring of electoral processes and protection of electoral rights, gives a hope for a higher democracy level and elections in line with its fundamental principles. Impartiality of an ombudsman guarantees high-quality rights protection for each electoral subject. Ombudsmen's mission is to observe the election process and whether the conditions for their transparency are guaranteed, record violations and monitor the cases transferred to court for restoration of fairness and bringing the guilty to justice. The transparency of electoral process became quite an acute issue today. Electoral rights ombudsmen are called not only to protect, but also to become a fundamental part of a civic watchdog network, building a democratic and transparent electoral process. I have joined this process to be a part of those involved community, striving for changes and making them a reality,” – she emphasized.

The third day started with a discussion in the Verkhovna Rada, dedicated to the role of Parliament in adherence to human rights standards in Ukraine, with MP Ruslan Sydorovych participating. After the discussion, Participants had an excursion in Ukrainian Parliament.

This training day had finished with a discussion led by the Right for Protection Charitable Foundation's expert Elina Shyshkina, dedicated to the experience in advocacy campaigns and key challenges in the defense of citizen rights in Ukrainian courts.

Besides that, the participants discussed the transparency of state party financing with analyst Ihor Feshchenko from the CHESNO Civic Movement.

“I have values and beliefs of a human rights activist and I am convinced that a person is able to realize legal interests and to live a worthy life only in a society living by slogan “Human rights above all!”. While those who adopt the laws and must guarantee their realization are elected, the voters must make a conscious choice not to regret in the future. The task of an electoral ombudsman is to overcome any challenges together with civil society representatives to guarantee the fairest possible election regardless of who violates the electoral legislation,” – candidate for electoral ombudsman Yurii Chumak from Kharkiv shared his thoughts.

The School finished with a day full of practical tasks. The participants had a chance to communicate with a representative of the Main Investigation Department of the National Police of Ukraine Anatolii Baidashchuk concerning cooperation with law-enforcement bodies, and learn about peculiarities of collection and recording of electoral crimes evidences on practical examples.

Besides that, a part of the day was dedicated to compilation of procedural documents (acts, complaints, and appeals) for electoral disputes, with the help of lawyer Andrii Kavchuk, and to the imitation of incidents at an election precinct on an election day.

“Human rights protection for me as a practicing lawyer is a philosophy, a job and a lifestyle. Each citizen of Ukraine has a right to make a free choice on an election, and the task of an ombudsman is to protect this right, and prevent its violation by any third person, including other electoral stakeholders. Position of an electoral rights ombudsman is a real chance for me to become a part of changes in our country, society and consciousness of citizens concerning the importance of their choice, as well as an opportunity to become a part of a strong civic power, which is realizing democratic values in the society. I understand the importance of this mission, and thank you for the trust and opportunities,” – stated candidate for ombudsman Olena Chernetska from the city of Dnipro.

In the end of the School, partner of the Civil Network OPORA in preparation of the training program, Ukrainian Catholic University, made a video for the future electoral rights ombudsmen. In the video, founding member of Ukrainian Helsinki Group, Vice Rector of Ukrainian Catholic University Myroslav Marynovych reminds the future electoral rights activists about ethical principles of their activities.

The participants have received a number of home tasks. There will be a general assessment once they finish them. 25 candidates with the highest testing grades will become civic ombudsmen in each of 24 Ukrainian oblasts and the city of Kyiv since January 2019.

“The Electoral Rights Ombudsmen School has finished. Summarizing the results, I may say that we have good results for the future activities. In November, we will announce who will represent interests of citizens in protection of their electoral rights in each oblast. While the participants will be doing their home task and passing a test, we will develop an honor code for electoral rights ombudsmen. I am grateful to each participant for the trust and devotion to their job,” – added Electoral Rights Ombudsmen Network Coordinator Mila Kutsenko.

Ombudsmen will be actively involved in 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections and 2020 local elections. Their activities will be based on the Code of Conduct, jointly developed by OPORA and the Ukrainian Catholic University. This Code will include, first of all, the guarantees of independence and political impartiality of ombudsmen, and enlist major functions and procedures for activities.

We would like to remind that Civil Network OPORA has signed under the project an official Cooperation Memorandum with Human Rights Representative. The Memorandum is aimed at protection of electoral rights and freedoms of citizens.

Detailed information about regional activities of ombudsmen is here.

 

Additional information: The EU project “Electoral reform to strengthen the power of agents of change and support public dialog” is being implemented by the Civil Network OPORA in cooperation with the Ukrainian Catholic University and the European Center for Electoral Support. It will last from January 2018 to April 2021 with financing of 628,000 EUR.

From 6 to 9 October, the second stage of trainings for 35 candidates for electoral rights ombudsmen was held in Kyiv. It is conducted under the project “Electoral reform to strengthen the power of agents of change and support public dialog”, financed by European Union.

This time, the training program was scheduled for 4 days, from morning till night. The participants have efficiently used every minute and demonstrated a good endurance.

Analyst of the Civil Network OPORA Oleksandr Kliuzhev welcomed the participants and emphasized that the success of ombudsmen network will depend on each person. “I think that OPORA has managed to find and unite competent and well-trained individuals, who are able to guarantee a professional protection of electoral rights of citizens. It is important to focus on the development of a comprehensive action plan to assist in a fair and true election process in Ukraine. It is a good start, but the success of ombudsmen network will depend on each of us. I would like to mention that this program should become an example for subjects of electoral process. They also should think about personnel and content of their activities and protection of their own legal interests. Unfortunately, the candidates often do not conduct a systematic collection of information about and evidences of electoral violations. Each individual should strive to improve the election process from his/her position,” – he emphasized.

Legal Advisor of the Civil Network OPORA Olha Kotsiuruba said that the participants of Electoral Ombudsmen School became a team before the second stage. “I have noticed on the second stage of the School that the participants have turned from mere candidates representing different regions into a team, laughing at the same jokes, disputing, protecting each other, and offering help. Our enthusiastic discussion of the types of violations demonstrated that the protection of elections and their fairness is not a declaration for School participants, but a real value. Whether they will be selected as electoral ombudsmen, or not, they will protect these values of equality and freedom of will expression,” – she stated.

The first day was dedicated to theory and practice of communication. The future ombudsmen learned about lifehacks for communication with mass media from the Director General of the Interfax-Ukraine News Agency Oleksandr Martynenko.

Besides that, they learned how to feel relaxed before the camera and answer provocative questions together with camera crew of hromadske.ua comprising journalist Natalka Ponomariv and cameraman Oleksandr Morozys.

Communications Manager of Civil Network OPORA Kateryna Zhemchuzhnykova told how it is better to write posts in social networks.

In the evening, OPORA's CivicTech expert Yurii Lisovskyi told about open data, OPORA's servers and fundamentals of digital security.

Candidate for electoral ombudsmen Yevhen Hurnytskyi from the city of Kropyvnytskyi believes this training helped to understand a role of electoral rights activists in the regions. “An ombudsman protects not only human rights, but also a common sense and human dignity. Electoral rights ombudsman guarantees the hopes of society for a fair and transparent electoral process. Having realized that I am responsible personally, impartial, and experienced in human rights issues, I believe that such institution is a must in a democratic society, and I am ready to assist in its introduction,” – he stated.

The second day included a theoretic part dedicated to criminal offenses related to the elections, and liability for them. Besides that, participants of the School have learned on specific examples how to classify these violations under the certain articles of Criminal Code of Ukraine. Associate Professor of Lviv Ivan Franko National University Vasyl Lutsyk explained the topic down to the fine points. This extremely important and long day finished with a movie about political technologies and the importance of communication in them.

Candidate for electoral ombudsman Yuliia Cheberiak from Kyiv believes that the development of a civic network for election watchdog will promote democratic changes in the country. “It is not enough to make a conscious choice during elections, which are not always held democratically and transparently. The development of a civic network for election watchdog, particularly civic involvement in the monitoring of electoral processes and protection of electoral rights, gives a hope for a higher democracy level and elections in line with its fundamental principles. Impartiality of an ombudsman guarantees high-quality rights protection for each electoral subject. Ombudsmen's mission is to observe the election process and whether the conditions for their transparency are guaranteed, record violations and monitor the cases transferred to court for restoration of fairness and bringing the guilty to justice. The transparency of electoral process became quite an acute issue today. Electoral rights ombudsmen are called not only to protect, but also to become a fundamental part of a civic watchdog network, building a democratic and transparent electoral process. I have joined this process to be a part of those involved community, striving for changes and making them a reality,” – she emphasized.

The third day started with a discussion in the Verkhovna Rada, dedicated to the role of Parliament in adherence to human rights standards in Ukraine, with MP Ruslan Sydorovych participating. After the discussion, Participants had an excursion in Ukrainian Parliament.

This training day had finished with a discussion led by the Right for Protection Charitable Foundation's expert Elina Shyshkina, dedicated to the experience in advocacy campaigns and key challenges in the defense of citizen rights in Ukrainian courts.

Besides that, the participants discussed the transparency of state party financing with analyst Ihor Feshchenko from the CHESNO Civic Movement.

“I have values and beliefs of a human rights activist and I am convinced that a person is able to realize legal interests and to live a worthy life only in a society living by slogan “Human rights above all!”. While those who adopt the laws and must guarantee their realization are elected, the voters must make a conscious choice not to regret in the future. The task of an electoral ombudsman is to overcome any challenges together with civil society representatives to guarantee the fairest possible election regardless of who violates the electoral legislation,” – candidate for electoral ombudsman Yurii Chumak from Kharkiv shared his thoughts.

The School finished with a day full of practical tasks. The participants had a chance to communicate with a representative of the Main Investigation Department of the National Police of Ukraine Anatolii Baidashchuk concerning cooperation with law-enforcement bodies, and learn about peculiarities of collection and recording of electoral crimes evidences on practical examples.

Besides that, a part of the day was dedicated to compilation of procedural documents (acts, complaints, and appeals) for electoral disputes, with the help of lawyer Andrii Kavchuk, and to the imitation of incidents at an election precinct on an election day.

“Human rights protection for me as a practicing lawyer is a philosophy, a job and a lifestyle. Each citizen of Ukraine has a right to make a free choice on an election, and the task of an ombudsman is to protect this right, and prevent its violation by any third person, including other electoral stakeholders. Position of an electoral rights ombudsman is a real chance for me to become a part of changes in our country, society and consciousness of citizens concerning the importance of their choice, as well as an opportunity to become a part of a strong civic power, which is realizing democratic values in the society. I understand the importance of this mission, and thank you for the trust and opportunities,” – stated candidate for ombudsman Olena Chernetska from the city of Dnipro.

In the end of the School, partner of the Civil Network OPORA in preparation of the training program, Ukrainian Catholic University, made a video for the future electoral rights ombudsmen. In the video, founding member of Ukrainian Helsinki Group, Vice Rector of Ukrainian Catholic University Myroslav Marynovych reminds the future electoral rights activists about ethical principles of their activities.

The participants have received a number of home tasks. There will be a general assessment once they finish them. 25 candidates with the highest testing grades will become civic ombudsmen in each of 24 Ukrainian oblasts and the city of Kyiv since January 2019.

“The Electoral Rights Ombudsmen School has finished. Summarizing the results, I may say that we have good results for the future activities. In November, we will announce who will represent interests of citizens in protection of their electoral rights in each oblast. While the participants will be doing their home task and passing a test, we will develop an honor code for electoral rights ombudsmen. I am grateful to each participant for the trust and devotion to their job,” – added Electoral Rights Ombudsmen Network Coordinator Mila Kutsenko.

Ombudsmen will be actively involved in 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections and 2020 local elections. Their activities will be based on the Code of Conduct, jointly developed by OPORA and the Ukrainian Catholic University. This Code will include, first of all, the guarantees of independence and political impartiality of ombudsmen, and enlist major functions and procedures for activities.

We would like to remind that Civil Network OPORA has signed under the project an official Cooperation Memorandum with Human Rights Representative. The Memorandum is aimed at protection of electoral rights and freedoms of citizens.

Detailed information about regional activities of ombudsmen is here.

Additional information: The EU project “Electoral reform to strengthen the power of agents of change and support public dialog” is being implemented by the Civil Network OPORA in cooperation with the Ukrainian Catholic University and the European Center for Electoral Support. It will last from January 2018 to April 2021 with financing of 628,000 EUR.

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