Conflict in the East of Ukraine still poses the biggest threat to human rights protection in Ukraine. Since November 2017, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine have recorded a decrease in the number of civilian deaths and ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine. Yet, systemic human right violations, including arbitrary and prolonged detention, use of torture and ill-treatment, and limited access to the due legislative process are still present in Ukraine. People living in the combat zone still suffer from limited access to administrative, medical and education services. Fiona Frazer, Head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine presented such results of the 21st Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine at a press briefing in Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Between November 16, 2017, and February 15, 2018, UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine documented a total of 73 conflict-related civilian casualties – 12 people killed and 61 injured. “This is an overall decrease of 16 percent compared with the previous reporting period. Yet, the number of civilian casualties resulting from shellings and use of light weapons increased by 66.7 percent,” elaborated Fiona Frazer.
February marked the lowest number of civilian casualties since the beginning of the entire conflict – seven people were injured, and no civilian deaths were recorded. “Although we have three civilian deaths and seven people injured in March, the trend of low civilian casualties currently continues,” Fiona Frazer noted. Since the comprehensive ceasefire came into effect on March 5, a decrease in the number of ceasefire violations has also been recorded.
A simultaneous release of 307 people that took place on December 27, 2017, under the auspices of all-for-all exchange envisioned under the Minsk agreements became one of the greatest achievements in the human rights protection area last year. “Through confidential interviews on both sides of the contact line with 64 of those released individuals we collected substantial information on detention conditions and human rights violations and abuses. All of those interviewed reported inhuman conditions of detention, torture, instances of sexual violence, threats of violence and violations of fair trial guarantees,” elaborated Head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.
Fiona Frazer drew attention to the fact that four years into the conflict there is still no sufficient progress in bringing to account those responsible for killings and violence during the Revolution of Dignity.
The UN Monitoring Mission continues to record the systemic violation of judges’ rights on the part of law-enforcement units and right-wing groups. “Criminal cases are registered against judges as punishment or intimidation for issuing a decision with which law-enforcement units disagree. Not only it is an attack on individual judges, but these actions constitute a serious assault on the independence of the judiciary system in Ukraine as a whole,” noted Fiona Frazer.
Head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine stressed that Russia continues to violate international law by applying Russian legislation in occupied Crimea. “Since 2014 we document systemic problems undermining human right protection in Crimea – lack of impartiality in the administration of justice, restriction on the exercise of the fundamental freedoms including peaceful gatherings, lack of accountability for human right violations, and the unwillingness of Russian Federation to allow critical and dissenting views,” elaborated Fiona Frazer.
Adoption of the law providing a new framework for reestablishing control over certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions has become the most significant legislative development of the previous monitoring period.
“We call on the government to utilize the information contained in our reports as a baseline for dialog and policy-making, and to work together with the UN, civil society and the international community to identify and implement concrete actions to improve the human rights situation Ukraine,” stressed Fiona Frazer.