UN report: rights abuses persist in Ukraine

UN report: rights abuses persist in Ukraine

[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine [official website] released its tenth report [press release, PDF] on Monday, documenting the serious human rights abuses that persist in eastern Ukraine. The violations include “shelling, executions, arbitrary and illegal detentions, torture, ill-treatment, human trafficking and the lack of justice and accountability, as well as deprivation of economic and social rights.” While the report acknowledges that the previously alarming levels of indiscriminate shelling have decreased due to the February Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements [materials, PDF], some areas of high conflict continue to face intensive use of heavy weapons and landmines, resulting in high civilian casualties. The report offers estimated figures compiled by the Office for the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) and the World Health Organization (WHO) [official websites] that conservatively document fatalities at 6,417 and injuries at 15,962. Even with a decrease in hostilities, human rights abuses continue to be perpetrated by armed groups, who have been accused of “killings, torture and ill-treatment, illegal deprivation of liberty, forced labour, looting, ransom demands and extortion of money.” The report emphasizes that Ukrainian civilians living in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea live their lives with tremendous hardship, in constant fear of violence. The report urges all parties involved to attempt to resolve their differences, and to fully implement the 12 February Package of Measures in an effort to cease the violence.

Ukraine has been internationally criticized for their continuing human rights abuses as a result of the current crisis [BBC timeline]. In March Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] chastised [JURIST report] Ukraine for using cluster munitions, which violate the laws of war because of the high casualties that result when used in populated areas. In April Amnesty International [advocacy website] accused [JURIST report] Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine of killing captured government soldiers in violation of international humanitarian law. Later that month the OHCHR expressed concern [JURIST report] for the “dire rights situation” in Ukraine after reports of fighting in violation of the Minsk Agreement [BBC backgrounder].