29 August 201618:17

Comment by Konstantin Dolgov, Russian Foreign Ministry Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law on forced disappearances and secret detentions of civilians in Ukraine

1496-29-08-2016

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During the past month, human rights activists have reported information attesting to Ukraine’s systematic practice of subjecting civilians, including women, to lengthy and arbitrary detentions, with the direct involvement of the Ukrainian Security Service (USS). This information is cited, in particular, in the materials of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International published on August 28, 2016.

These international NGOs write that civilians being secretly and illegally kept in USS facilities are subjected to torture, inhuman and degrading treatment (beatings, electric shocks, threats of rape and shooting, and reprisals against family members) are denied access to medical assistance or legal representation, and contact with relatives or the outside world in general.

The forced disappearances and secret detentions carried out by the USS are serious crimes and constitute a flagrant violation of international norms by the Ukrainian authorities, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. To this day, no one has been held accountable for these crimes despite the evidence provided by people released by the USS. This is an outrageous fact, which confirms that Ukraine has become a lawless country.

We have repeatedly drawn the attention of the international human rights community to the scale of the abuses in Ukraine.

Particularly troubling is the absence of any response by Ukraine to the inquiry of the Russian Foreign Ministry of June 28, 2016 regarding the precise number of Russian citizens kept in pre-trial detention centres and other places of confinement in Ukraine. There is every reason to suspect that some have been tortured.

We believe that the Ukrainian government and law enforcement should document all instances of illegal detentions of civilians and inhuman and degrading treatment, conduct a thorough and impartial investigation, and bring those responsible to justice.

We reiterate our demand for unhindered consular access to all Russian citizens detained or held on Ukrainian territory without due notification of Russian diplomatic and consular authorities.

We urge international human rights organisations, including the UN Human Rights Council, the Council of Europe and the OSCE, to pressure the Ukrainian authorities to abandon these illegal practices and to hold the guilty parties accountable. 

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