Statement of Ukrainian Human Rights organizations from Coalition “Justice for Peace at Donbas” appeal on priorities during negotiations settlement of the armed conflict in Donbas

 The fall of the authoritarian regime after the shooting in February 2014 on the Euromaidan and Yanukovich escape to Russia has opened the way to build a democratic state upon common with European countries values. Trying to stop the democratic reforms, the Russian Federation with the help of the army occupied Crimea and began hybrid war in Donbas, hiding the direct military aggression of propaganda cliches about the “coup” in Kiev and legitimacy conducted in Crimea, Luhansk and Donetsk regions “referendums.” Only in official data in this armed conflict killed more than 9,700 people, about 22 thousand people were injured, about two million people were forced to leave their homes escape to reach the peaceful area. In fact, the Russian Federation launched the war against Ukraine, thereby grossly violating the provisions of the UN Charter and the post-war world order. Therefore, the current situation in the zone of ATO in Ukraine should be considered in the paradigm of war and human rights, in which norms international humanitarian law became particularly relevant.

At present in the territory under the control of so-called “Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republic” is home to about three million people. They are in an area where legal procedures are virtually not exist or very bad. Freedom, life and property of people living in this area will depend on the illegal armed groups. Any person, regardless of age and sex, faces the risk of being kidnapped, subjected to torture, coercion subjected to virtually slave labor. There is a network of illegal places of captivity, called “basements” due to their unsuitability even for the temporary detention of people. Enough is difficult humanitarian situation, documented cases of starvation elderly. Sharp issue is the implementation of Ukrainian state social benefits to residents outside the control areas according to law.

Concerning this, Ukrainian human rights organizations are deeply concerned that the issue of human rights has not yet become a priority in the negotiations to resolve the armed conflict in the Donbas. There is a lack of persistence in promoting the release of prisoners of war and civilian hostages, which generally would have regarded as a conditio sine qua non in the implementation of all agreements reached. Absolute requirement is to establish proper control over the situation of international organizations and institutions, in particular, should be provided free work of international humanitarian organizations and international monitoring missions, their unhindered access to all places of detention, protection of civilians from the tyranny of people with guns, effectively investigation of serious crimes and bring those responsible to justice, pressure on the Russian Federation to stop violations of human rights in the occupied territories.

Instead, against the backdrop of continuing attacks on the line of delimitation and the continued delivery of military equipment from uncontrolled by Ukraine area of Ukraine-Russia border as a priority were taken the questions of elections in the occupied territories. This completely ignores the fact in the ambiance of uman rights, the elections become from a tool of free expression to a tool of legitimizing military dictatorship.

Concerning this we urge the states – members of the Council of Europe to identify issues of human rights as a priority in the negotiations to resolve the armed conflict in the Donbas and implement their progress in regular consultations with international and Ukrainian human rights organizations working on documenting human rights violations and international crimes in the area of armed conflict and the protection of victims of conflict.

The Coalition “Justice for Peace in Donbas” is an informal union of 17 human rights organizations and initiatives. Members of the Coalition have combined efforts to conduct coordinated documenting of human rights violations, committed during the armed confrontation in eastern Ukraine.

The Coalition focuses on gathering information about the most serious human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law.

An important task of the Coalition (which is reflected in its name) is to struggle with impunity of those guilty of gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Donbas during the armed confrontation. According to members of the Coalition, bringing such individuals to justice is a prerequisite for the restoration of peace and reconciliation in eastern Ukraine.

Coalition Members:

Alchevsk Human Rights Analytical Center

Public Committee for Protection of Constitutional Rights and Freedoms of Citizens

Public organization “Mirny bereg”

Public Movement “Ochyshchennya”

Donbas SOS

Donetsk “Memorial”

Ecological and Cultural Center “Bakhmat”

Luhansk Regional Human Rights Center “Alternative”

Human Rights Center “Postup” / Vostok SOS

Starobilsk public organization “Volya”

Starobilsk district public human rights women’s organization “Victoria”

Eastern-Ukrainian Center for Civic Initiatives

Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Kharkiv Human Rights Group

Center for Civil Liberties / Euromaidan SOS

“Social Action” Centre NGO

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