Impunity in Ukraine to western human rights defenders

July 21 was released a new  report  by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch «You do not exist. Arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and torture during the conflict in the east of Ukraine “, based on data from 40 interviews with victims, their families, witnesses, victims, lawyers, meetings with formal and informal groups and data from other sources. Respected international organizations describe nine cases of torture and unlawful prolonged detention Ukrainian authorities civilians detained, including enforced disappearances, in unofficial places of detention, and nine incidents of torture and unlawful prolonged detention of civilians detained militants self-proclaimed DND and LNR. Most of the reported cases were in 2015 and the first half of 2016.

This is a very important report demonstrates gross violations of human rights in Ukraine on the part of both sides of the armed conflict and impunity for offenders who have committed serious or especially serious crimes. Impunity provokes new and new crimes such spins a spiral of violence, which is a very alarming trend for the future of Ukraine.

Therefore, we must thank our Western colleagues for what they pay attention to the Ukrainian authorities, the public and the entire world for such serious human rights violations and the actual promotion of impunity. Perhaps the Ukrainian authorities to better listen to the international human rights organizations, than to domestic, constantly witnessing about these violations and trying to protect their victims. Because “there is no prophet in his own country!”

However, this report has caused a mixed assessment in the Ukrainian society. Many were frustrated and even offended, considering the report biased and prejudiced.

Information about the actions of both parties to the conflict in the report supplied symmetrically. Already on the cover of the report – a mirror image of the tortured men. Indeed, the methods of torture on both sides are almost identical, as in the background is the same executioners – Soviet. Torture in 1937 was legalized by the special order of Stalin, and 24 known method of torture passed from generation to generation, and law enforcement officers survived. The report described in detail on the 9 cases of torture by state agents and Ukrainian fighters DNI / LC, and in no way observed the difference between these terrible events that took place in the occupied territories and controlled.

And this difference is large, and it is, unfortunately, not reflected in the report of AI and HRW.

First, such action in the controlled area are classified as serious and very serious crimes, and the victim can apply for these crimes to be registered and should be investigated. Military Prosecutor’s Office instituted criminal proceedings against the accused in the commission of these crimes, as a preventive measure, as a rule, elected to stay in custody. However, this does not mean that really brought to justice those responsible: in detention are sometimes the innocent and the guilty walk free. The problem of ineffective investigation of crimes, in particular, torture and enforced disappearances, as she was, and remains unresolved for Ukraine. However, to assert that there is complete impunity, it is impossible.

Nothing like this in the DNR and LNR, where such actions are not regarded as a crime, and where you can not even complain, because it is those who are killed, tortured, abused, abducted people just became part of the so-called People’s Police. It would not be the people’s police to prosecute itself!

Secondly, the very different scale of these criminal acts. According to the estimates of human rights defenders, the number of victims of these crimes in the occupied territories has exceeded 5,200 people, and it is far from the final figure. The number of victims in the controlled areas, we can not estimate exactly. By all estimates is known dozens of people, though, in my opinion, it is expected that the final figure will be higher than is now considered. But it is still not thousands or even hundreds. Of course, from the point of view of the problem of impunity, it does not matter: still bad, that remains unpunished, and he who attempted at least one person, and one who tortured many people. But a large number of victims of a very serious impact on the psychological health of a large number of people and society as a whole. The more victims, the more suffering, the sharper and wider than the loss of health, in particular, psychological trauma. In my opinion, did not even remember the report on the different scales of these crimes properly.

Third, the authors of the report, in my opinion, just had to point out that torture in the occupied territories participated Russian military and the Russian special services officers and the prisoners were taken to the territory of the Russian Federation and tortured there. The facts cited in the  report, “Survivors of Hell”, which was prepared by a coalition of Ukrainian human rights organizations “Justice for Peace in the Donbas.” This report is the result of a detailed analysis of 165 cases of illegal deprivation of liberty, continued detention and torture. She has presented in Brussels, Strasbourg, Berlin, Paris, Warsaw, Prague, in the majority of the embassies of EU Member States in Ukraine, the United Nations shall circulate it through their own channels of communication, and respected international human rights organizations could not know about the data. Here are a few quotes. 1. “… Reading 44% affected indicate their personal contact with at least 58 mercenaries from the Russian Federation and the Russian military personnel, played a leading role in the interrogations and the organization of protection of places of non-freedom” (p.43) . 2. “Among individuals, conduct interviews separately, must be distinguished those which the respondents called themselves members of the armed forces of the Russian Federation. According to the respondents, they are either presented (for example, an officer of the Russian FSB), or they can be identified by the presence of the chevrons of the Russian Armed Forces, in their conversations (they called the city of residence in Russia), belonging to a specific people (the Buryats, Chechens, Ossetians ) etc. “(P.73). 3. “It is necessary to pay attention to the interrogation and torture of detainees in the territory of the Ukrainian people, which took place on the territory of the Russian Federation. Taking into account the small number of applications, it is impossible to draw objective conclusions about the prevalence of this practice. At the same time, these documented cases indicate the direct connection of illegal armed groups t. N.

Fourth, the conditions of detention in the occupied territories have been much worse than controlled. It was easy to see in the video exchanges that Ukrainian prisoners of war and hostages were very thin, barely moving, supporting each other, while the prisoners in general look of a well-controlled territories.

AI and the HRW, wanting to be objective and impartial, were biased. But anyway, I want to thank them for their attention to the problems of Ukrainian human rights. Ukrainian authorities recommendations provided in the report of our Western colleagues, important, accurate and essential, is confident that under them would subscribe and Ukrainian human rights activists.

Author: Evgeniy Zaharov, head of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, a board member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Sourse, 28/07/2016