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Amnesty Urgent Actions
Startseite Urgent Actions 2021 07 Investigate attack against LGBTI* activist
UA 081/21
Ukraine
Abgeschlossen am 31. Juli 2021

Investigate attack against LGBTI* activist

AI-Index: EUR 50/4473/2021

Ukrainian LGBTI* activist Vitalina Koval has been waiting for justice for more than three years after surviving a homophobic attack in March 2018 for organizing an event on International Women’s Day. The investigation is now at risk of being permanently closed on 31 July, which would deny her access to justice and set a damaging precedent.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Vitalina Koval is an active member of the LGBTI* and feminist community in Ukraine. On 8 March 2018, she organized a public action to mark International Women’s Day in her hometown Uzhgorod, in western Ukraine. When the public action was coming to an end, six members of a local anti-LGBTI* group «Karpatska Sich» doused Vitalina Koval and other participants with paint. She received chemical burns to both her eyes as a result.

The assailants were immediately detained by the police, however, only two female members of the group who threw the paint were subsequently charged with causing minor bodily harm (Article 125 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). The remaining four male members of the group were not included in the investigation. Moreover, the police did not qualify the attack as hate crime under Article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, ignoring the homophobic messages that were spread by the group on social media before and after the attack, as well as the homophobic leaflets that the six assailants were throwing at participants during the attack.

The trial against the two female assailants began in December 2018 and was marred with delays. Eventually, on 5 March 2021, the judge declared that the two assailants were no longer criminally liable due to the expiration of the statute of limitations for the criminal offence. While the decision is lawful, it violated Vitalina Koval’s right to a fair trial, leaving her without justice and reparations.

Vitalina Koval’s lawyer was able to successfully challenge the fact that the investigators did not initially qualify the attack as hate crime and in November 2018 the court ordered the police to open another criminal case investigating the attack under the Article 161 (hate crime). The investigation under Article 161 started in December 2018. However, this investigation must be completed before 31 July 2021, or it will be closed according to regulations set in the Criminal Procedure Code.

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