[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Thursday urged [press release] both sides to the conflict in eastern Ukraine to “take immediate steps to protect civilians in the days before [the ceasefire] comes into force … on Saturday night at midnight.” According to the group, civilians are now at an even greater risk, as both sides will “try to gain territory before the fighting is halted.” Many individuals have been evacuated, but a few thousand civilians still remain in Debaltseve, “a Ukrainian-held area that is currently under heavy attack by pro-Russian militias.”
Russia’s ongoing conflict [BBC timeline] with Ukraine [JURIST news archive] has reinvigorated fears of Cold War Era politics and increased tensions between Russia and the West. In November the Ukrainian parliament was able to pass some key legislation pertaining to the protection of human rights [JURIST report], including laws on internally displaced persons, corruption and reform of the Office of the Prosecutor. The Ukrainian government has been subject to significant criticism for human rights violations and their use of incendiary weapons [JURIST report]. In July the UN human rights office issued a report documenting what it referred to as the “continuing deterioration of the human rights situation in eastern Ukraine and calling for greater care to prevent civilian casualties [JURIST report]. In April the International Criminal Court opened an investigation [JURIST report] into alleged crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes in the Ukraine.