UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine: 36 civilians killed and 157 wounded in Donbas over three months


Military conflict in eastern Ukraine

From February 16 to May 15, 2017, as a result of combat operations in Donbas 36 civilians were killed, 157 were injured. “This is a 48 per cent increase compared to the previous reporting period, and a 70 per cent increase comparing to the same time period one year ago. Shellings accounted for 42 per cent of the casualties. Almost an equal amount – 41 per cent – was caused by mines and other explosive devices. […] We call on the parties to the conflict to implement their commitments to the Minsk agreements, including to strictly adhere to the ceasefire and withdraw weapons and fighters from the contact line. This is particularly important as we move into the summer, where hostilities may escalate,” stated Fiona Frazer, Head of the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, presenting the report of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine at a press briefing held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.  The report is based on interviews with 252 witnesses and victims of human rights violations as well as on observations during monitoring visits to both parties to the conflict.

The report focuses on persistent problems with infrastructure as a result of attacks, difficulties in crossing the contact line, prohibition of movement of goods between government-controlled and uncontrolled territories, the production cutback or closedown of a number of companies in the temporarily occupied territories, which resulted in people losing jobs. It is also noted that the forced termination of operation of the Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Staff, which has provided humanitarian aid to half a million civilians, deteriorated the condition of the most vulnerable and poor population in the temporarily occupied territories.

Illegal detention

The report contains information on new cases of unlawful or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, abductions, enforced disappearances, in particular, on the territory controlled by militants of so-called “LPR-DPR”. There were recorded the new cases of tortures inflicted on detainees on both sides of the contact line. “We do not have full and unrestricted access to detainees held by armed groups. Nevertheless, we continued to document cases of deprivation of liberty perpetrated by members of armed groups of the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk people’s republic’ and self-proclaimed ‘Luhansk people’s republic’. The practice of the 30-day so-called ‘administrative arrest’ continues, which is often prolonged, without any legal redress, while detainees are denied access to lawyers or visits by family members,” noted Fiona Frazer. She added that in the government-controlled territory the Monitoring Mission had unimpeded access to the places of detention.

During the period covered by the report, 14 people imprisoned before the conflict were transferred to the government-controlled territory. However, 9,500 persons imprisoned before the conflict still remain on the other side of the contact line.

Situation in Crimea

For the first time since the annexation of Crimea 12 persons imprisoned before the conflict were transferred to mainland Ukraine as a result of direct negotiations between the Ombudsmen of Ukraine and Russia.

The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission interviewed all transferred persons and documented serious violations of their rights to physical and mental integrity committed during their detention in prisons in Crimea and Russia, where they were transferred to in violation of international humanitarian law.

The report recorded violations of the Crimean Tatar community’s right to a fair trial and restriction of the use of Ukrainian language in education. Besides, concern is expressed about the development of parallel structures in the territory of self-proclaimed “republics”. It is noted that the Monitoring Mission has documented a number of violations of fundamental principles and standards of the trial, the right to liberty and security of a person committed in these “republics”.