Ukrainian Canadian Congress calls up on government of Canada to include protection of human rights in free trade talks with Ukraine

Jun 17th, 2011 | By | Category: Canada, Civic Actions, Human Rights, Ukrainians Worldwide

Ottawa, Canada-June 16, 2011 – The Ukrainian Canadian Congress has called upon the Government of Canada to include specific provisions in the Canada Ukraine Free Trade negotiations that guarantee the protection of human rights, rule of law and democracy in Ukraine.

“In the months since Prime Minister Harper’s visit to Ukraine there have been a number of serious infringements on human rights and democratic freedoms. Last week, the European Parliament condemned the Ukrainian government’s selective use of prosecution of political opponents,” stated Ukrainian Canadian Congress National President Paul Grod. “In this context, we urge the Government of Canada to increase pressure on the Ukrainian government to ensure respect for democracy and human rights by making these fundamental principles formal conditions in any Free Trade Agreement.”

Since the Prime Minister’s visit, there have been numerous large and small violations of human rights, democracy and basic freedoms such as:

  • The governing party, the Party of the Regions, won the local elections which were held on October 31, 2010, in 85% of the constituencies as a result of amendments to the electoral law and tactics that blatantly discriminated against the opposition parties. The elections have been criticized by a number of international organizations and states, among them the European Union (“EU”), and the United States of America.
  • The Government of Ukraine has imprisoned or brought charges against leading members of the opposition, including the leader of the principal opposition party and former Presidential candidate, Yuliya Tymoshenko.
  • The Ukrainian government has stepped-up its harassment and intimidation of the academic community, focusing on historians who draw attention to Ukrainian national resistance to Soviet rule. Prime Minister Harper drew attention to these concerns during his visit to Lviv by visiting the Ukrainian Catholic University and the National Memorial Museum of the Victims of Occupational Regimes.
  • Censorship of media and curtailment of public rallies.

“Further to the Prime Minister’s commitment to support freedom and democracy in Ukraine, Canada must insist that, Ukraine comply with European standards pertaining to human rights and democratic values in any Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement,” – concluded Grod.

A letter was sent by UCC President Paul Grod to Canada’s Minister of International Trade, the Honourable Ed Fast requesting a meeting to discuss the erosion of human rights situation in Ukraine.

Click here to view a copy of the Resolution adopted by the European Parliament:

UCC Media Contact:
Darla Penner
Telephone: (204) 942-4627

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