Armistice Ends, Deaths in Eastern Ukraine Rise

The United Nations (UN) Monitoring Report covers human rights developments in Ukraine from February to the end of July. The report found that 15 civilians have been killed and 47 injured since fighting escalated in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

The report noted the number of violence had increased by 51 percent from the number of cases over the previous six months.

UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif said UN monitors had documented 13 cases of arbitrary detention related to conflict in areas controlled by armed groups. He added 11 people were still in custody.

“The two self-proclaimed republics issued decrees, in March and April, and forcibly recruited 400 people into armed groups,” Al-Nashif said.

In addition, said Al-Nashif, another decree issued on October 1 stipulates the recruitment of another 500 people.

“The move exposes male civilians to lethal danger, strips them of their right to the protection afforded to civilians by international humanitarian law, and exposes them to the risk of criminal prosecution,” he said.

The report said an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship prevailed in areas controlled by armed groups. The report asserts that the self-proclaimed republics continue to limit religious freedom, especially for evangelical Christians.

Al-Nashif said the Ukrainian government also has an uncertain human rights record. For example, he cites 22 documented cases of threats and attacks against journalists, human rights defenders, LGBTI people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) and minorities.

“Hate speech is also directed at Roma, LGBTI people, women, people with disabilities, and people perceived to have pro-Russian views. It is imperative that the authorities effectively investigate any such incident fully acknowledging any bias motives,” he said.

The UN monitoring mission accused Russia of various violations of civil liberties and deprivation of the right to a fair trial on the Crimean Peninsula, which it illegally annexed in 2014. The report documents cases of torture and ill-treatment of Ukrainian citizens in Crimea.

Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Yevheniia Filipenko, said millions of Ukrainians living in Russian-occupied territories were deprived of their basic rights and freedoms. He criticized Russia’s efforts to legitimize its annexation of Crimea. [lt/jm/ft]

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