We have familiarised ourselves with the eighteenth report produced by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine for the period from February 16 to May 15, 2017.
We are deeply concerned over a dramatic surge in tension in Donbass resulting in a 48 per cent rise in the number of civilian casualties during the period under review: 36 persons died and 157 were wounded. We support the Monitoring Mission’s call to strictly abide by the ceasefire agreement, addressed to the parties of the conflict. We share the concern made by the members of the mission over the unending shelling of civilian infrastructure facilities, in particular water supply and power supply systems, schools and hospitals, which is contrary to Kiev’s international commitments to protect civilians. In this connection, we again entirely support the Monitoring Mission’s recommendations on the need for scrupulous compliance with the Minsk Agreements.
We are extremely troubled with the mission’s data on the new cases of illegal or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, enforced disappearances, and the Security Service of Ukraine’s systematic use of torture to obtain confession evidence from detainees suspected of involvement in the Donbass conflict. We agree with the UN that the lack of due investigation of the said crimes by the Ukrainian authorities is conducive to the expansion of lawlessness in the country as a whole.
We share the Monitoring Mission’s anxiety in connection with official Kiev’s inhuman and discriminatory efforts to maintain the socioeconomic blockade of Donbass. Introduced in 2016, the so-called verification procedures have deprived over 400,000 Ukrainians of their legal pensions, while the new rules regulating the crossing of the line of contact not only lead to a considerable restriction of the freedom of movement in Ukraine and further separation of families but also expose more than 900,000 people a month to the real mortal danger as they cross the internal border. The bans imposed by the Ukrainian government on the transfer of cargoes across the line of contact are totally irrational and lead not just to the closure of businesses but also to the loss of sources of income and means of livelihood for thousands of people.
The UN Mission’s alarming conclusions about the lack of improvement in the Ukrainian judiciary system or progress in the investigation of the May 2014 Odessa tragedy command attention as well.
We expect the Monitoring Mission to work on efforts to prevent restrictions concerning freedom of expression and pressure on the media in Ukraine and we urge Kiev to create safe working conditions for journalists.
At the same time, we must note that a portion of the report is politically motivated. An attempt is made in a number of its sections to exculpate the Kiev authorities and gloss over the crimes they commit against their own people. Also we would like to remind those concerned that the Republic of Crimea is territory belonging to the Russian Federation as well as the federal city of Sevastopol and that the attempt to include in the UN report on Ukraine an assessment of the human rights situation in this Russian region is illegal.
We are convinced that the UN and the human rights community will make Kiev comply strictly with its international human rights commitments and norms of international humanitarian law and implement in good faith the Minsk Agreements, something that is due to facilitate the attainment of durable peace in that country.