Human rights situation in Ukraine discussed in Geneva

Jun 16, 2014

On 16 June 2014, Ukrainian and Russian human rights defenders addressed international community during the side event at the 26th session of the UN Human Rights Council that is currently in progress in Geneva. The event was attended by more than 50 diplomats, accredited to Geneva-based UN organizations, including the representatives of the EU, European nations, the U.S., Turkey and Russia.

Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Valeriya Lutkovska opened the event and emphasized the lack of adequate human rights protection in Crimea. In particular, she drew attention to the restrictions of political rights, poor observance of social and economic rights, and selective application of the right to peaceful protest, especially with regard to Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian-speaking people. The Commissioner has also expressed her concern with mass violations of human rights in Eastern regions of Ukraine.

Head of Mejlis Mr. Refat Chubarov while pointing out the new threats that Crimean Tatars face with nowadays – in particular, dangers related to breakneck and quite traumatic transferof Crimea under the jurisdiction of Russian legislation – Mr. Chubarov called the international organizations, the Governments and Parliaments of the UN Member States to recognize and treat the Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people asan executive authority of Kurultai of Crimean Tatar People and a supreme representative authority of Crimean Tatar people. He also stressed that the Mejlis had decided to neglect the so-called elections of Crimean parliament and local authorities of Crimea scheduled on 14 September 2014 due to discriminatory laws "On the Elections of Members of State Council of the Republic of Crimea" and "On the Elections of Members of Representative Municipal Authorities of the Republic of Crimea" recently passed by the Crimean authorities.

During the meeting, change of trends in the realm of protection of the freedom of expression and rights of journalists was also discussed. Roman Holovenko, Institute of Mass Information, pointed out a positive development with regard to protection of the freedom of expression in Ukraine – in particular, due to adoption of the law on public broadcasting. At the same time, the scales of violations of the rights of journalists and the freedom of expression are not getting lower in the country – but starting from March 2014, their regional breakdown altered significantly: nowadays the vast majority of such violations are documented in Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk regions – 118, 95 and 50 respectively.

Ukrainian human rights activists underlined that the investigation of crimes committed during Euromaidan is one of the significant objectives of new authorities. The same concerns the resolution of conflicts at crisis areas in Eastern Ukraine.
Russian human rights activists, in particular Andrey Yurov, Member of Human Rights Committee at the President of Russian Federation, also participated in the event. He pointed out the aggravating pressure on national minorities in Crimea and stressed the importance of extending the activities of UN Monitoring Mission on the territory of Crimean peninsula.
The main requirements of Ukrainian human rights activists were voiced by Arkadiy Bushchenko, Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, and Oleksandra Matviichuk, Centre for Civic Liberties.

To Ukraine
  • To investigate all crimes and bring to justice everyone guilty in grave and mass violations of human rights during the events of Euromaidan (November 2013 – February 2014) as well as in Crimea and Eastern regions of Ukraine since March 2014;
  • To ensure that anti-terrorist operation is carried out in line with the provisions of national law, and to investigate crimes committed by all parties to the conflict;
  • To promptly ratify the Rome Statute;
To Russian Federation
  • To take efficient and adequate measures to prevent armed mercenaries and illegal armed groups who intent to get to the territory of Ukraine from crossing Russian state border;
  • To facilitate impartial coverage of events and developments in Ukraine by Russian mass media;
To the UN Member States
  • To contribute to the activities of the UN Monitoring Mission in Ukraine; all parties to the conflict are also requested to ensure the continuous operation of the Mission throughout Ukraine, including in Crimea;
  • To provide international legal aid to Ukraine in order to investigate mass violations of human rights in Ukraine starting from November 2013 and bring everyone guilty to liability;
  • To provide technical assistance to Ukraine in order to open "humanitarian route" for civil population that flees the area of anti-terrorist operation to neighbour regions of Ukraine and to disseminate the respective information on such opportunity among civil population of Ukraine;
  • Not to draw their conclusions based only on the information provided by Russian mass media;
To the UN Human Rights Council
  • To immediately react to all events taking place in Ukraine, including events in Crimea and Eastern regions of Ukraine.
Representatives of the EU, Turkey and Russia were the most active participants of the discussion. They discussed the problems of internally displaced persons, cutoff of Russian channels on the territory of Ukraine, violations of the rights of Crimean Tatar people in Crimea, stage of investigation of Odesa events and the role of Commissioner for Human Rights in monitoring of human rights observance in the crisis areas in Eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian human rights activists hope that their recommendations will be reflected in the Resolution on Ukraine, which is to be put to a vote before the UN Human Rights Council in June.

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