UN report: Human rights situation in eastern Ukraine worsens

UN report: Human rights situation in eastern Ukraine worsens
September 15, 2016.

The UN report presents findings regarding human rights and freedom of speech, and provides data on victims of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Kyiv, September 15, 2016. The human rights situation in eastern Ukraine worsened due to escalating hostilities in June-August. Parties to the conflict continue to disregard civilian protection. This was stated by Fiona Fraser, Head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, while introducing the report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. The report covers the period from May 16 to August 15, 2016.

The number of victims of the conflict

“The UN recorded 188 civilian casualties in eastern Ukraine, including 28 killed and 160 wounded persons over the three months covered by the report,” said Ms. Fraser. According to her, from the beginning of the conflict in mid-April 2014 to September15, 2016, OHCHR recorded 9,640 conflict-related deaths and 22,431 wounding among civilians, the Ukrainian military and members of armed groups. Over the second half of August, not covered in this report, the number of civilian casualties continued growing. 11 people were killed, another 53 wounded.

At the contact line

According to Ms. Fraser, a significant problem is continuous restricted access to the contact line. “During the period under review, 26,000 to 32,000 people crossed the contact line daily. People have wait for 36 hours. In the daytime, they have to stay in the sun, with limited access to medical care and shelter in case of shelling. During the period under review, three civilians died at checkpoints due to the poor healthcare services,” said the Head of the Human Rights Monitoring Mission.

Prisons in Ukraine are becoming more open to monitors

According to her, the report notes gradual improvement of access to places of imprisonment. “This is an important achievement, because more than 70 per cent of cases of human rights violations recorded by the UN are associated with tortures, inhumane treatment and unlawful detention of persons. We have regular and unrestricted access to the penitentiaries on the Ukrainian government-controlled territory. Besides, the Security Service (SBU) provides training for its employees on the prevention of tortures. However, so-called (‘DPR’) and “LPR” continue to deny the external monitors access to places of imprisonment,” detailed Ms. Fraser.

Limited freedom of speech and human rights infringement in Crimea

The UN notes a significant increase in cases of journalists’ harassment. “Journalists and other media representatives highlighting sensitive issues are being put under a lot of pressure by militants, the Security Service, and Armed Forces,” she explained.

The report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also notes that the human rights situation is worsening in the temporarily occupied Crimea as its administrative integration into the Russian Federation takes place. “The right to peaceful assembly continues to be restricted. The Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis (Crimean Tatars self-governing body – UCMC) was forced to undergo “treatment in a psychiatric hospital.”  Investigations of missing persons do not give any results,” stressed Ms. Fraser.

Clarifying statement by the UNHCHR on misunderstanding in translation during the press conference.

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