Comment regarding the facts of enforced disappearances and secret detentions of civilians in Ukraine

Submitted on Tue, 08/30/2016 - 11:01

Comment by Konstantin Dolgov, Russian MFA Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law, regarding the facts of enforced disappearances and secret detentions of civilians in Ukraine

During the past month, human rights activists have been reporting numerous facts and data attesting to Ukraine’s long-established systemic practice of subjecting civilians, including women, to lengthy and arbitrary detentions, with the direct involvement of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). This is indicated, in particular, in the materials of “Human Rights Watch” and “Amnesty International” published on 28 August 2016.

According to these international NGOs, civilians secretly and illegally kept in SBU facilities are subjected to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment (beatings; electric shocks; threats of rape, shooting or reprisals against family members, etc.), denied access to medical and legal assistance, and cut off from any contacts with relatives or the outside world.

The enforced disappearances and secret detentions practiced by SBU personnel represent a serious crime and constitute a flagrant violation by Ukrainian authorities of international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. It is outrageous that, in spite of the evidence provided by those released from the SBU torture chambers, no one has yet been held accountable, which proves that lawlessness has become common practice in the country.

We have repeatedly drawn the attention of the international human rights community to the great scale of abuse in Ukraine.

In this context we are even more concerned by the lack of reaction from Ukrainian side to the Note by the Russian Foreign Ministry of 28 June 2016 with a request of information regarding the precise number of Russian citizens who have been detained and are kept in pre-trial detention centres and other places of confinement in Ukraine. There is every reason to believe that some of them have been subjected to torture.

We consider that Ukrainian authorities and law enforcement bodies must take real steps to establish all facts of illegal arrests and detentions of civilians, and inhuman and degrading treatment, as well as conduct a thorough and impartial investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice.

We once again urge that unhindered consular access be provided to all citizens of the Russian Federation who have been detained or are held in custody on Ukrainian territory without due notification of Russian diplomatic and consular missions.

We call upon international human rights organisations and bodies, including the UN Human Rights Council, the Council of Europe and the OSCE, to exercise necessary pressure on Ukrainian authorities in order to stop these illegal practices and hold those responsible accountable.