Comment by the Information and Press Department on new report by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine
We have read the 15th report by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine for a period from May 16 through August 15, 2016.
The official UN data on the recent increase in civilian casualties is cause for regret and deep concern. Against this backdrop, the appeal by UN experts to Kiev urging it to control the operations of independent paramilitary units along the line of contact is particularly apt.
We share the concerns, conclusions and recommendations of the UN experts as regards various human rights violations being perpetrated by the Ukrainian side, especially its service personnel and law enforcement and secret service officers, including the use of torture and other types of brutal and degrading treatment in Kiev-controlled prisons, arbitrary arrests, detention in custody without communication with the outside world, and sexual and gender-motivated violence.
In this connection, we support the resumption of visits by officials from the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture that stopped in May 2016. We hope that the subcommittee members will objectively assess the scale and implications of the problems and will prompt the Ukrainian authorities to see that the national penitentiary system functions in line with internationally recognised standards of humanitarian law and human rights.
We are deeply concerned, with regard to Ukrainian citizens’ living standards, for the consequences of official Kiev’s decision to disregard its basic human rights obligations. According to the UN, this approach has undermined the entire system of protecting the rights of the country’s population.
We also share the concern of the UN experts on the consequences of the new Ukrainian amnesty law that aims to reinstate the immunity of those involved in hostilities in eastern Ukraine, including those whose actions could be qualified as crimes against humanity. All of this is taking place at a time when the Ukrainian authorities have failed to make any progress on extreme cases, including the May 2014 clashes in Odessa.
We are satisfied with the attention that the UN Mission has focused on the serious freedom-of-speech situation in Ukraine and the fact that journalists are unable to exercise their professional duties in the country without fearing for their lives. We are worried about observer data showing that journalists are being attacked more often in Ukraine.
We are alarmed by the mission’s data that the Ukrainian authorities are not ready to care for internally displaced persons. State assistance to these people is made dependent on their former place of residence, which is illegal. We support the demands of UN observers that the Government of Ukraine needs to abolish any terms and pre-conditions for assisting those who have been forced to abandon their homes. Objectively speaking, these terms and preconditions are discriminatory.
We urge Kiev to responsibly fulfill the UN Mission’s recommendations. For our part, we continue to assert that it is possible to rectify the situation in Ukraine, including in its eastern regions, and to achieve a lasting regional peace only through honouring the Minsk agreements.