Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine (OHCHR, 15 May 2014)
I. Executive Summary
1. The present report is based on the findings of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU) covering the period of 2 April – 6 May 2014. It follows the first report on the human rights situation in Ukraine released by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on 15 April 2014.
2. Since the issuance of the first report, the HRMMU has noted the following steps undertaken by the Government of Ukraine to implement some of the recommendations from the report. These include: the drafting of legislation on peaceful assembly; and the development of a policy to prevent the negative stereotyping of minority communities in the media.
3. The HRMMU also notes the ongoing investigation by the Office of the General Prosecutor into the gross human rights violations that were committed during the violent Maidan clashes between November 2013 and February 2014 that resulted in the killing of protesters and police, as well as allegations of torture and reports of missing persons. These investigations need to be completed in a timely, independent, effective and impartial manner to ensure accountability and justice for all, both victims and alleged perpetrators; the process and the results of these investigations must be transparent.
4. OHCHR appreciates that the Government of Ukraine has welcomed the HRMMU, offering open and constructive cooperation. It has been forthright in providing information and discussing with the HRMMU human rights concerns: right to life, liberty and security of person, the freedoms of movement, peaceful assembly, expression and association, as well as right to fair trial and equal access to justice without discrimination and the protection of the rights of all minorities.
5. The main findings and conclusions for the period covered by this report are:
i. The Government of Ukraine is taking steps to implement the provisions of the Geneva Agreement concluded on 17 April 2014. On the same day, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine issued an Order “On the organization of the discussion of amendments to the provisions of the Constitution of Ukraine on decentralization of State power”. On 18 April, a parliamentary coalition suggested to all political parties represented in the parliament to sign a memorandum of understanding regarding ways to resolve the situation in eastern Ukraine. According to acting President and Speaker of Parliament Turchynov, the initiative was not supported by members of the opposition. On 22 April, the draft law “On prevention of harassment and punishment of persons in relation to the events that took place during mass actions of civil resistance that began on 22 February 2014” was registered in Parliament.
ii. Armed groups continue to illegally seize and occupy public and administrative buildings in cities and towns of the eastern regions and proclaim “self-declared regions”. Leaders and members of these armed groups commit an increasing number of human rights abuses, such as abductions, harassment, unlawful detentions, in particular of journalists. This is leading to a breakdown in law and order and a climate of intimidation and harassment.
iii. In the aftermath of the 16 March unlawful “referendum” in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine, there are increasing reports of residents being affected by the changing institutional and legal framework. Human rights concerns relate to citizenship, property and labour rights, access to health and education. Of concern to the HRMMU, are the increasing reports of on-going harassment towards Crimean Tatars, and other residents who did not support the “referendum”. The reported cases of Crimean Tatars facing obstruction to their freedom of movement, as well as the recent attack on the building of the parliament of the Crimean Tatar people are worrying developments. Legislation of the Russian Federation is now being enforced in Crimea, in contradiction with UN General Assembly resolution 68/262, entitled “Territorial integrity of Ukraine”. In addition, its differences with Ukrainian laws will have a significant impact on human rights, posing in particular limitations on the freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, association and religion.
iv. The Government of Ukraine needs to carry out a prompt, transparent and comprehensive investigation into the violent events in Odesa and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice in a timely and impartial manner. The impact of the 2 May violence in Odesa has hardened the resolve of many, and strengthened the rhetoric of hatred. In its aftermath, a call was made for mobilisation to join local armed groups in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Referenda on the “recognition” of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic and “Luhansk People’s Republic” were planned in both regions for 11 May.
v. Many peaceful demonstrations have been observed by the HRMMU in the country. A tendency has been observed for a peaceful protest to suddenly turn into a violent confrontation. Increasingly the result of such violent acts and confrontation leads to numerous deaths and injuries. All too often, the police appear unable to guarantee the security of participants, and ensure law and order. Peaceful assemblies must be permitted, both as a matter of international law and as a way for people to express their opinion. Policing should facilitate such assemblies, ensuring the protection of participants, irrespective of their political views.
vi. In eastern Ukraine, freedom of expression is under particular attack through the harassment of, and threats to, journalists and media outlets. The increasing prevalence of hate speech is further fuelling tensions. Both these factors are deepening divisions between communities and exacerbating the crisis. All parties must take immediate steps to avoid incitement and radicalisation.
vii. Campaigning for the 25 May Presidential elections is well underway. Some candidates report arbitrary restrictions, conflicts and incidents, which impacts and curtails their ability to campaign with voters. Transparent, fair and democratic Presidential elections on 25 May are an important factor in contributing towards the de-escalation of tensions and restoration of law and order.
Quelle: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, <http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/UA/HRMMUReport15May2014.pdf>
UNHCR says internal displacement affects some 10,000 people in Ukraine
GENEVA, May 20 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency on Tuesday said the tension in Ukraine had displaced an estimated 10,000 civilians and added that the number of people affected was continuing to rise.
“A needs assessment has recently been completed and we are working closely with local authorities, other UN agencies and NGO partners to help those who are most affected. So far this includes providing legal assistance, integration grants for 150 families, cash assistance for 2,000 people, and improved shelters for 50 families,” UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva.
He said the displacement in Ukraine started before the March referendum in Crimea, that led to that region joining Russia, and has been rising gradually since. Registration numbers are being compiled on the basis of data UNHCR is receiving from local authorities.
Among the affected population are people who have been displaced twice—first from Crimea, and then again from the eastern part of the country. Most of those displaced are ethnic Tatars, although local authorities have also reported a recent increase in registrations of ethnic Ukrainians, Russians and mixed families.
At least a third of the displaced are children. Most IDP (internally displaced people) families are moving to central (45 per cent) and western Ukraine (26 per cent), though some are also located in the southern and eastern regions. The number of Ukrainian asylum-seekers in other countries has remained low.
“Among accounts we’re hearing from displaced people is that they have left either because of direct threats or out of fear of insecurity or persecution. Some report having received personal threats over the phone, via social media, or finding threatening messages left on their property,” Edwards said.
“People cite fear of persecution because of ethnicity or religious beliefs or, in the case of journalists, human rights activists and among intellectuals, due to their activities or professions. Others say they could no longer keep their businesses open,” he added.
The main challenges facing displaced people are access to social services, long-term shelter, transferring residence registration so that they can access their economic and social rights access to documentation, and access to livelihoods. Help for IDPs is primarily being organized through regional governments, community-based organizations and through voluntary contributions by citizens.
People are being accommodated in shelters provided by local authorities, or staying in privately owned spaces, such us sanatoriums or hotels. Others are being hosted in private homes.
“However the capacity of host communities to support people is fast becoming exhausted,” Edwards said, adding: “The pressing needs include for more permanent shelter, more employment opportunities, and support for community-based and local organizations in developing long-term solutions for people who have become internally displaced.”
The spokesman said UNHCR welcomed a newly adopted law on the rights of displaced people from Crimea. The law includes safeguards relating to freedom of movement of Ukrainian citizens between Crimea and the rest of Ukraine. It also allows for identity cards to be restored and covers voting rights. Further work will be needed to ensure that displaced people enjoy full equality and the same rights and freedoms under international and domestic law as other citizens of Ukraine.