May 14, 2012

CANADA'S FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE BEGINS 4 DAY, THREE CITY, HEARINGS ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN UKRAINE

KYIV - MAY 14, 2012- Representatives of the Ukrainian Canadian community welcomed the opportunity to participate in the visit to Ukraine by Canada's Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.  The delegation consists of 7 Canadian Members of Parliament who will be conducting hearings of the Committee that will be open to the public and media in Kyiv, Kharkiv and L'viv, Ukraine.
 
"These historic hearings on the human rights situation in Ukraine continue the work which the Standing Committee has begun in October 2011, and continued in March concurrent with the Ukraine at the Crossroads Conference, in Ottawa, in March this year and come at a pivotal time in Ukraine's democratic development," stated Taras Zalusky, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. "The ability of the committee to travel to Ukraine will afford them an opportunity to gain a firsthand look at the situation regarding human rights, politically motivated selective justice, and the rule of law on the ground in Ukraine.  This will be very valuable information for the committee when it writes its report on recommended future actions by the government of Canada vis a vis Ukraine."

The Parliamentary committee's delegation is composed of the following members:
 
* The Hon. Bob Dechert, M.P., Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs;
* The Hon. Lois Brown, M.P., Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation (CIDA);
* Dave Van Kesteren, M.P. (Chatham - Kent - Essex)
* Nina Grewal, M.P. (Fleetwood Port Kells)
* Linda Duncan, M.P. (Edmonton-Strathcona)
* The Hon. Ralph Goodale, M.P. (Wascana)
* Alexandrine Latendresse, MP (Louis St. Laurent)

The committee members are being accompanied by a delegation from the Ukrainian Canadian community composed of Taras Zalusky, Executive Director, Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Bohdan Onyschuk, Chairman, Canada Ukraine Foundation, and Borys Potapenko, Executive Director, League of Ukrainian Canadians.

"The work of the standing committee will be critical in assessing the situation in Ukraine.  It is important that the committee is travelling to Kharkiv (in Eastern Ukraine) and L'viv (in Western Ukraine) to complement their work in Kyiv," stated Bohdan Onyschuk, Chairman of the Canada Ukraine Foundation. "The committee's findings will be a critical input to the government of Canada in determining next steps in its ongoing relations with Ukraine, including the importance of a large election observer mission to this fall's election to the Verkhovna Rada."

The committee will hold several sessions of hearings on issues such as selective prosecutions; the economy and business climate in Ukraine; the situation with civil society and human rights groups; political developments  in Ukraine; preparations for the elections to the Verkhovna Raoda; and regional economic development.  In addition, the Committee will meet with the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine; and representatives of the Prosecutor General's office, Ministry of Justice, Central Electoral Commission and the Human Right Ombudsperson of the Verkhovna Rada as well as human rights and civil society groups.
 
"For the Parliament of Canada to have found the situation in Ukraine so compelling as to include a fact finding trip to Ukraine in conjunction with the historic hearings by the Foreign Affairs Committee on March 5 and 7, 2012, speaks to the commitment of Canada to helping the Ukrainian people to progress on the path of democratic transformations of their country.  It is important for governments to witness the democratic backsliding firsthand," stated Borys Potapenko, Executive Director of the League of Ukrainian Canadians.   

The hearings begin this morning with a session on selective justice that includes Evgenia Tymoshenko, daughter of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko; Iryna Lutsenko wife of former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko and their respective legal teams, to be followed by a session with representatives of the Prosecutor General's office; the human rights ombudsman of the Verkhovna Rada; the State Penetentiary Service of Ukraine and Ukrainian Ministry of Justice.

Today's hearings are open to the public and will be held at Kyiv's Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Please see attached schedule for details on all meetings open to the public.
 
For more information please contact:

Taras Zalusky
UCC Executive Director
Mobile phone in Ukraine: +380 97 087 1549 or +380 67