Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, gestures while speaking during his inauguration ceremony in Kyiv, May 20, 2019. © 2019 AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

(Kyiv) – Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, should address several key human rights concerns as a central part of his administration’s agenda and make good on promises of reform, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Freedom House said today in a letter to the new president.

Zelenskiy took office on May 20, 2019.

“We have seen some progress by the Ukrainian government on key issues, but also stagnation and setbacks on others,” the groups said in the letter. “We are writing … to ask that, as you look forward, you ensure that justice, accountability, and human rights protections are central to your agenda.”

“Ukraine needs to halt hate-based violence against vulnerable groups,” said Rachel Denber, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “And older people who are living in parts of Ukraine under the control of Russia-backed armed groups shouldn’t face discrimination to get their pensions.” 

The human rights groups highlighted the need for progress in areas in which they have been monitoring and documenting violations. They cited the need to investigate and prosecute hate-based violence and violence against civil society activists and journalists; for more accountability by law enforcement and security service agencies; and to put an end to policies that discriminate against older people from non-government controlled areas of Ukraine, who have to make an onerous crossing into government areas to get their pensions.