UN Decries Continuing Violations in East Ukraine, Russian-Occupied Crimea

The United Nations reports human rights violations in both government and separatist-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine continue with impunity.  The report, which was examined by the U.N. human rights council this week also documents violations perpetrated by the Russian occupiers of Crimea.

While critical of the overall situation in eastern Ukraine, the report injects a note of optimism that the new government, headed by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy shows promising signs of the country turning a corner.  

It notes the Ukrainian government and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine largely continue to respect a cease-fire and have disengaged forces. In addition, it says the High Anti-Corruption Court of Ukraine has begun operating.  

The report urges the newly-appointed prosecutor general and chief military prosecutor to promptly investigate conflict-related and other grave human rights violations on both sides of the contact line, the patch of land that divides the government and separatist-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine.

U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore says accountability for past and present human rights violations on both sides of the line have to be addressed.  She accused the authorities in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics of denying U.N. monitors access to their territories and detention facilities despite repeated requests.

“We nevertheless continue to document human rights concerns in those areas; breaches of human rights through such as arbitrary and incommunicado arrests and the absence of space for people to exercise fundamental freedoms, symptoms of the persistent climate of fear that prevails in those parts of Ukraine’s territory,” she said.

Gilmore also condemned violations perpetrated by the Russian Federation as the occupying power in the Crimean Peninsula, which it annexed in March 2014.  Abuses documented in the report include deportations of protected persons, forced conscriptions, restrictions on freedom of expression and an increasing number of house searches and raids, mainly against Crimean Tatars.

Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergiy Kyslytsya blasted Russia’s occupation of Crimea and blamed Moscow for the suffering of Ukraine’s citizens who are in the sixth year of war that was instigated by Russia.

“Russia, which blatantly disrespects human rights of its own citizens, perpetrates human rights abuses at home and abroad, in essence, commits a moral turpitude amid its desire to infiltrate the body, which has been created to prevent human rights violations and go after perpetrators,” Kyslytsya said.

Russia is running for a seat on the 47-member Human Rights Council.  The Ukrainian minister said it would be a travesty of justice to elect Russia to the U.N. body, which is the foremost protector and promoter of human rights.


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