UN finds “alarming” deterioration of human rights in eastern Ukraine News
UN finds “alarming” deterioration of human rights in eastern Ukraine

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] announced [press release] on Friday that her 34-member monitoring team in Ukraine has produced a report [text, PDF] showing an “alarming deterioration in the human rights situation in the east of the country, as well as serious problems emerging in Crimea, especially in relation to the Crimean Tatars.” The report, which covers the period from April 2 to May 6, is the second to be produced by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission (HRMMU) since it was deployed by the High Commissioner in March. The report describes both peaceful rallies and demonstrations that are taking place within Ukraine, as well as “an increasing tendency in some critical urban areas for rallies of opposing groups to be held simultaneously, often leading to violent confrontations.” Pillay called on those with influence over the armed forces to exert their power in efforts to curb the growing violence. The report also lists specific examples of human rights violations carried out primarily by anti-government groups in the east, including targeted killings, torture, abductions and sexual harassment. The report draws attention to missing persons, including 83 people still unaccounted for since the protests in Kiev, and 23 members of the press who have been abducted and unlawfully detained. Finally, the report notes other growing problems in Crimea, especially in relation to the Crimean Tatars and other minority groups. These individuals face emerging issues including the suppression of the freedom of movement, media restriction, physical harassment and fears of religious persecution.

The HRMMU report comes as the situation between Russia and Ukraine continues to deteriorate. Earlier this month, Pillay expressed grave concern [JURIST report] over the escalating unrest in Ukraine that as brought increasing destruction and death to the region. Last month, at the request of the new Ukrainian government, the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened [JURIST report] an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes in the Ukraine. The requested investigation specifically involves claims that ousted [JURIST report] president Viktor Yanukovich is responsible [JURIST report] for the killing of more than 100 protesters. Ukraine also requested that the ICC investigate alleged crimes committed by Russian-backed militias within Ukraine. In an effort to diffuse violence in the area, Russia, Ukraine, the US and the EU issued [JURIST report] a joint statement last month promising amnesty to protesters and to those that seized public places, provided they surrender their weapons and with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes. This amnesty promise came two days after the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued [JURIST report] a report detailing rights violations that occurred both before and after the protests that began [JURIST report] last November.