Impunity for killings remains rampant. That undermines prospects for justice – UN Report


Kyiv, July 14, 2016 – A new UN report describes the widespread killings that have taken place in Ukraine since January 2014 and highlights the very limited accountability that has taken place. The report describes more than 60 specific cases. It focuses mainly on cases of alleged killings of the civilian population and persons otherwise protected under international humanitarian law, in a conflict zone although no armed hostilities had taken place in the immediate vicinity of the incidents, this was stated by Fiona Frazer, head of the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. The report, to which Fiona Frazer refers, says that nobody has taken responsibility for any civilian deaths caused by the conduct of hostilities, adding that some of the killings may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. “The UN Human Rights office estimates that up to 2000 civilians have been killed in the armed conflict. So far neither the armed groups nor the government of Ukraine has taken responsibility for a single civilian death resulting from the conduct of hostilities. We are also not aware of any cases where the alleged perpetrators either those who carried out the attacks or those who were commanders are being Investigated or brought to justice”, she said. According to Fiona Frazer, impunity for killings remains rampant, encouraging their perpetuation and undermining prospects for justice.

Fiona Frazer notes that the UN Human Rights office has achieved some progress by the investigation in relation to Maidan events. “As of 1 June 2016, 55 individuals have been charged in relation to the deaths of Maidan protestors, including ten senior Government officials and 29 former commanders and servicemen of the ‘Berkut’ special police regiment, 10 ‘titushki’ [mercenary agents and street hooligans with the express purpose of performing illegal acts for money], a Maidan protester, and five other persons,” – highlights Fiona Frazer. She also added that a number of cases have already been heard in the courts, however ‘the majority of suspects have fled the country, essential evidence is lost due to the failure of the law enforcement to collect or preserve it  immediately after the events.’ Ms Frazer urged that the investigations of the violent deaths which occurred both joined Maidan events and in Odessa are completed in accordance with international standards and without due delay.

The UN Human Rights Office has proposed the number of recommendations to the government of Ukraine in this regard. First, to improve the collection of forensic and preservation of other material evidence. Second, to systematically interview people who were deprived by their liberty by the armed groups. Third, to strengthened internal and prosecutorial oversight of military and law enforcement bodies in a conflict zone. And fourth, to allocate necessary human and technical resources to the investigation and prosecution of killings.

Fiona Frazer also concluded that all available accountability mechanisms both national and international must be ensured that those responsible for killings and other violations, abuses or crimes are brought to justice. “Whether in the context of implementation of the Minsk agreements or not, there must be a guarantee that there will be no amnesty for those responsible for acts of arbitrary deprivation of life and suspected, accused or sensed to war crimes, crimes against humanity or violations of human rights.” – she said.