1. UN. Human rights
BSSB.BE ohchr.org 02.04.2018
*Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights UN reports.
Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine 16 November 2017 to 15 February 2018.
This twenty-first report on the situation of human rights in Ukraine by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is based on the work of the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine1 and covers the period from 16 November 2017 to 15 February 2018.
This report is based on data collected by OHCHR through 276 in-depth interviews with victims and witnesses of human rights violations and abuses, and visits in both government-controlled and armed-group-controlled territory. OHCHR also carried out 546 activities to facilitate the protection of human rights connected with the cases documented.
During the period under review, OHCHR documented 205 cases involving violations and abuses of the right to life, deprivation of liberty, enforced disappearance, torture and ill-treatment.
In 66 out of these 205 cases, the alleged violation or abuse occurred within the reporting period; the Government of Ukraine bore responsibility for 38 of these cases, and armed groups for 28 cases.
Out of the total 205 documented cases, 121 cases involved credible allegations of torture committed in the context of unlawful or arbitrary detention.
OHCHR also documented a total of 73 conflict-related civilian casualties, namely 12 deaths and 61 injuries. While this represents an overall decrease of 16 per cent compared with the previous reporting period, the number of civilian casualties resulting from shelling and light weapons fire increased by 66.7 per cent.
Yet, of the 47 civilian casualties resulting from shelling and small arms/light weapons fire, 35 (2 killed and 33 injured) were recorded in territory controlled by armed groups, and are likely attributable to the Government, and 12 (1 killed and 11 injured) were recorded in territory controlled by the Government, and are likely attributable to armed groups.
OHCHR noted a lack of significant progress in achieving accountability for grave human rights violations in the killing of protestors at Maidan and the 2 May 2014 violence in Odesa.
OHCHR documented nine cases involving physical attacks or use of force against journalists and media professionals, and ten attacks on individuals, peaceful assemblies and social events.
Average 35,000 daily crossings of the contact line registered created long queues at the five official crossing routes, with people exposed to a dangerous environment due to shelling nearby the checkpoints and mine-contamination, amid freezing temperatures and with inadequate access to basic hygiene, heating and medical facilities.
On 18 January 2018, the Parliament of Ukraine adopted a law describing the conflict in the east as an armed aggression and providing a new legal framework to re-establish control over certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, considered to be occupied by the Russian Federation.
Rights to life, liberty, security and physical integrity
Conduct of hostilities and civilian casualties
From 16 November 2017 to 15 February 2018, OHCHR documented 73 conflict-related civilian casualties (12 killed and 61 injured),10 reflecting a 16 per cent decrease compared with the previous reporting period, when it recorded 87 civilian casualties (15 killed and 72 injured).
OHCHR documented 40 civilian casualties (2 killed and 38 injured) caused by shelling from various weapons systems – including mortars, howitzers and multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) – and light weapons fire.
This represents a 66.7 per cent increase compared with the previous reporting period (16 August to 15 November 2017), when OHCHR recorded 24 civilian casualties caused by shelling and light weapons fire (2 killed and 22 injured).
Of the total of 47 casualties from shelling, light weapons and small arms fire, more than two thirds – 35 (2 killed and 33 injured) occurred in territory controlled by armed groups, and are likely attributable to the Government, based on the geographic location where they occurred. Twelve civilian casualties (1 killed and 11 injured) were recorded in territory controlled by the Government, and are likely attributable to the armed groups, based on the geographic location where they occurred.
The Donetsk Filtration Station, in particular, was shelled on eight occasions, with potentially devastating consequences for the population and the environment given the toxic chlorine gas stored in that facility. On 18-19 December, the Donetsk Filtration Station came under shelling and heavy machine gun fire for over 24 hours, forcing the evacuation of staff without security guarantees.
Deprivation of liberty, enforced disappearance and abduction, torture and ill-treatment, and conflict-related sexual violence
On 15 January 2018, ‘MGB’ of ‘Donetsk people’s republic’ recognized that in 2017 it detained 246 individuals under “suspicion of espionage and state treason”, 148 of whom were living and working in armed-group-controlled territory.
Comment by the Information and Press Department on the recent report by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine
We have familiarised ourselves with the 21st report of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine covering the period from November 16, 2017, to February 15, 2018, which was circulated in Geneva.
We took note of the information about lower number of civilian casualties in the Donbass conflict. However, the statistics of losses are still shocking at 12 killed and 61 wounded.
Of particular concern is the fact that the number of casualties from shelling civilian targets from rocket systems has doubled. At the same time, observers managed to reliably establish that the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics account for three quarters of all the casualties during the reporting period, for which likely “the government is responsible”.
The number of civilian deaths resulting from explosions of mines, booby-traps and IEDs remains inordinately high.
We join the appeal of the Monitoring Mission to the parties to the conflict asking them to strictly comply with the ceasefire agreements, including to withdraw heavy artillery from the line of contact. We emphasise the need to restore critically important infrastructure. Disruptions in the work of water treatment and power plants have left more than half a million residents of Donetsk without drinking water, electricity and heating, and put the region on the brink of an ecological disaster. We would like to remind the Ukrainian authorities that the shelling of civilian infrastructure is a direct violation of their international legal obligations.
The level of gross human rights violations on the part of the Ukrainian law enforcement agencies and the Security Service recorded by the Monitoring Mission, which, according to the most recent UN reports, are systemic in nature, causes major concern. These include unlawful confinement, kidnapping, detention with no outside communication, torture, sexual violence, and using anti-terrorism legislation to crack down on political opposition and dissent in society. Again, the UN mission members had to admit that the Ukrainian authorities lacked political will and interest in conducting a full-scale investigation into all the cases of human rights violations by members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Security Service. This feeds the atmosphere of permissiveness and impunity in the country.
The lack of progress in investigating the crimes committed in Odessa in May 2014 is no longer surprising given these circumstances.
We are seriously concerned by the findings of the UN mission members regarding Kiev’s discriminatory policy against the citizens of Ukraine residing in Donbass. The authorities’ reluctance to pay pensions and social benefits to residents of southeastern Ukraine, lack of procedures for reimbursing their own citizens for the loss of housing and property resulting from the actions of the Ukrainian military, the artificial restrictions on crossing the contact line by the people have led to further impoverishment of the poorest groups of the population, further dividing Ukrainian society and, thus, reducing the chances for national reconciliation in the future.
We share the Monitoring Mission’s concerns regarding the mounting offensive by the Ukrainian authorities against civil and political freedoms in that country, including increased attacks on freedom of expression, freedom of the media and physical attacks on journalists. According to the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, 90 media workers were attacked in 2017 alone. We support the UN demand to ensure prompt, effective and unbiased investigations into all violations caused by the work of the Myrotvorets website, to revise state policy on forming TV and radio content, and to cancel the disproportionately strict bans on imports of printed products into that country.
We are concerned about the numerous cases of discrimination and violence against representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its worship sites established by the UN mission. According to the Monitoring Mission, the issue is not about isolated instances of intolerance against the UOC, but a coordinated campaign which is being carried out with the obvious connivance of official authorities and law enforcement officers.
We urge Kiev to carefully heed to the assessments and recommendations provided by the Monitoring Mission and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe regarding the law On Education, which grossly violates the rights of the linguistic minorities living in that country, especially Russian speakers. We look forward to the authorities making the necessary amendments to article 7 of the law, withdrawing private schools from its sphere of application and providing for sufficient education in minority languages at public schools.
Again, we are forced to remind everyone that the mandate of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine does not include reviewing the situation in third countries. The Republic of Crimea and the city of federal importance Sevastopol are part of the territory of the Russian Federation, and the latest attempt to include an assessment of the human rights situation in this Russian region in the report on Ukraine is inappropriate.
- The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at: ohchr.org