Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices February 25, 2009
Ukraine, population 46 million, is a republic with a mixed presidential and parliamentary system, governed by a directly elected president and a unicameral parliament (the Verkhovna Rada) that selects a prime minister. Parliamentary elections were held in September 2007; according to international observers, fundamental civil and political rights were respected during the campaign, enabling voters to express their opinions freely. Five political parties and blocs held seats in the 450 member parliament. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces. The police and penal systems continued to be sources of some of the most serious human rights concerns. They included instances of torture by law enforcement personnel, harsh conditions in prisons and detention facilities, and arbitrary and lengthy pretrial detention. The judiciary lacked independence and suffered from corruption. The government continued to be slow to return religious property. Societal violence against Jews continued to be a problem, as did anti Semitic publications, although their number and circulation declined during the year. Serious corruption persisted in all branches of the government. Societal problems included violence and discrimination against women, including domestic violence and sexual harassment in the workplace, and against children, as well as increased violence against persons of non Slavic appearance. Discrimination against Roma continued. Trafficking in persons continued to be a serious problem. Workers continued to face limitations on their ability to form and join unions of their choice and to bargain collectively. During the year the government closed the long criticized Pavshyne migrant detention facility and opened two migrant detention centers that comply with international standards. The Ministry of the Interior established human rights monitoring departments in all regions to monitor human rights performance by police during the year.