[JURIST] The UN Working Group on mercenaries on Tuesday urged [press release] the government of Ukraine to bring accountability for any human rights violations committed by foreign armed actors since conflict began in 2014. The working group has claimed that many volunteer and paid men and women from professional or independent militia groups are responsible for rights violations. Human rights expert Patricia Arias stated, “[w]hat is particularly concerning is that with the diverse array of foreign armed actors who joined the conflict, reports on human rights violations by these individuals have not been properly investigated or brought to justice.” While some prosecutions have taken place the UN Working Group is calling for more bad actors brought to justice.
Russia and Ukraine have been in conflict since the annexation of Crimea [JURIST backgrounder] in March 2014. Last month Russia filed suit [JURIST report] against Ukraine over Ukraine’s default on $3 billion in bonds. A Ukrainian official said in January that the nation plans to sue Russia [JURIST report] in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] on claims of financing terrorism. In August a Russian military court sentenced [JURIST report] two Ukrainian activists to substantial jail time for the charge of conspiring to commit terror attacks. Last March the EU committed to stand by its policy of refusing to recognize Crimea’s annexation [JURIST report]. Last February Russian liberal political activist Boris Nemtsov was shot in the back four times [BBC report] in the middle of busy downtown Moscow. Nemtsov was openly politically opposed to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its role in Ukraine.