UN report on human rights in Ukraine: Serious threats to people on temporary occupied territories and isolation for displaced


Kyiv, March 3, 2016. Office of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights releases its next, 13th report on human rights situation in Ukraine. The document embraces the period between November 16, 2015 and February 15, 2016. It also emphasizes the daily life of people who reside close to the contact line in ATO zone. “We focus on individuals: men, women, girls and boys and the impact of the armed conflict as they continue to live in the conflict-affected areas controlled either by the armed groups or administered by the government as well as looking at the human rights situation elsewhere in Ukraine including in Crimea. In this report one of our main aims is to give the voice to many of these people with whom we interview,” noted Fiona Frazer, Head of the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine presenting the report at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

She said there are 1,6 million registered internally displaced persons (IDPs) who left their homes as a result of the conflict in Ukraine. Between 800 thousand and one million IDPs reside on the territory administered by the Ukrainian government. Some of them keep facing discrimination in accessing public services. Fiona Frazer emphasized the need to conduct demining activities along the main transportation routes towards the checkpoints. It needs to be done in order to clear the roadsides from explosives – remnants of war as well as from home-made explosive devices. Areas that have not been demined need to be clearly and duly marked.

UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission is concerned with no action being taken as to discovering the fate of those who went missing as well as to prevention of persons’ disappearance as a result of the armed conflict. The report emphasizes the need for cooperation between the parties of conflict in order to exchange information and discover the location of persons who went missing in the conflict zone. Families of such persons should be provided unimpeded access to information on their location and condition.

Head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission said that over the reporting period the mission registered 78 civilian casualties: 21 killed and 57 wounded, that resulted from the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. To compare 178 civilian casualties were registered over the previous period – between August and November 2015. UN has registered a total of 30,211 casualties over the entire time of the conflict, 9,167 of them were killed and 21,044 were wounded. “We believe this to be a conservative estimate. And that the real number of conflict-related casualties is considerably higher,” noted Mrs. Frazer.

She noted that damaged housing facilities, limited access to social services and high prices for food remain topical problems. Checkpoints seriously hamper the freedom of movement: at times hundreds of vehicles are waiting in the queue at the delimitation line while their passengers have to stay overnight under low temperatures. The report also notes that residents of areas controlled by the armed groups are particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses. They live in conditions characterized by development of parallel administrative structures, complete lawlessness, reports on arbitrary detentions, torture, incommunicado detentions and lack of access to real mechanisms of legal protection.

“We are increasingly concerned about the lack of space for civil society actors to operate […]. People who live in the territories under control of the armed groups are particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses. We hear first-hand accounts of arbitrary detention, torture and incommunicado detention by these members of armed groups,” emphasized Mrs. Frazer. The report also mentions the recent series of arrests in the so-called “DPR” that have an even more restraining effect for people to exercise their rights for freedom of expression, religion, peaceful assembly and association. The Mission also documented reports on unprosecuted violations on the part of law enforcement staff of Ukraine, mostly Security Service including forced disappearance, arbitrary detentions as well as incommunicado detentions, torture and ill treatment.

According to Mrs. Frazer compliance with the Minsk agreements remains the only real strategy to achieve peace in particular areas in eastern Ukraine that are controlled by the armed groups. It is key to settlement of the human rights crisis in Ukraine. It includes restoring of effective control by the Ukrainian government over the border with the Russian Federation, withdrawal of foreign troops and military equipment.

Full version of the report is available here.