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Comment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine regarding the 12th report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
10 December 2015 09:17

On 9 December, 2015 the 12th report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was presented in Geneva and New York. The report was prepared by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU), which has been operational since March 2014 at the invitation of the Government of our country. The document covers the period of 16 August - 15 November 2015 and, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes, provides fairly objective picture of developments, particularly in eastern Ukraine.

Among the most important Mission’s findings is direct confirmation of arms and mercenaries supplies from the Russian Federation into Donbass through parts of Ukrainian-Russian border temporarily uncontrolled by Ukraine. The Mission documented crimes committed by Russia-backed illegal armed groups in certain areas of Donetsk and Lugansk regions; the emphasis was made on their responsibility for the killing of civilians, kidnapping, torture, sexual violence, forced labor, extortion and other human rights violations, as well as on the inevitability of punishment.

The Ukrainian side utterly shares the OHCHR conclusion that full implementation of the Minsk agreements is the only strategy for achieving peace settlement in Donbass, and calls on the Russian Federation to fully implement its obligations in accordance with these documents.

As an established tradition, a separate section of the 12th report is devoted to the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol occupied by Russia, which continues to grossly violate the rights of Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians. This time the document draws noticeable attention to the situation of the Ukrainian language in the peninsula, the level of teaching which in schools decreased since 2013 more than tenfold. Currently, only two schools - in Alushta and Feodosia - can provide primary and secondary education in Ukrainian. In this regard, we join the OHCHR's call to the occupation authorities to ensure the possibility for the residents of Crimea to receive education in Ukrainian.

The Mission indicates continued oppression of political and civil rights. The egregious cases of killings, arbitrary detentions, disappearances of pro-Ukrainian activists that took place on the peninsula since the occupation of Crimea by Russia are left uninvestigated. The Ukrainian side supports OHCHR recommendations to self-proclaimed Crimea authorities and to Russia to stop using local so-called "law-enforcement" and "judiciary" as a means of political pressure, blackmail and intimidation of opponents.

We also demand that Russia provides permanent access for the Monitoring Mission and for other international human rights mechanisms to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. We are convinced that the appalling human rights situation on the peninsula following the Russian occupation deserves a thorough examination and a separate comprehensive OHCHR report.

The 12th OHCHR report positively evaluates the steps taken by the Ukrainian authorities, including those at the legislative level, to strengthen the protection of human rights and welcomes the cooperation between the Government of Ukraine and the HRMMU. The document also contains a number of recommendations to the Ukrainian side aimed at improving the human rights situation in Ukraine. All of them, exactly like the previous ones, will be carefully considered and taken into account. The Ukrainian side commends the activities of the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine. We consider its reports, conclusions and recommendations as a possibility to see the human rights situation in the context of Russian aggression through the eyes of international experts, and as a good opportunity to analyze and overcome the identified problems.

We believe that the increased attention of impartial UN experts to the human rights situation on the occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and in certain areas of Donetsk and Lugansk regions will facilitate a broad international awareness of the systemic blatant human rights violations resulted from the aggressive actions of the Russian Federation.

Report:  http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/UA/12thOHCHRreportUkraine.pdf

Press-release: http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16858&LangID=E

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