International Peace Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1982. In 2001, it was decided to celebrate it as a day of renunciation of armed violence throughout the world. In the relevant resolution, the UN invites all states and peoples to strictly observe the cessation of hostilities on September 21st.
International Peace Day is especially relevant in regions where armed conflicts continue, such as Donbass where armed aggression was unleashed against peaceful population by the regime that seized power in Ukraine as a result of the 2014 coup d’état. In response to the free expression of citizens who disagreed with the policy of the new authorities aimed at violating historical memory, spiritual and cultural values, as well as discrimination against human rights and freedoms on the grounds of language, religion and some others, the Ukrainian government deployed troops in the region. They consisted not only from representatives of law enforcement agencies, but also volunteer battalions formed by activists of right-wing radical groups, as well as the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which is a gross violation of the Constitution and other legislative acts.
Kiev made no attempts to resolve the conflict peacefully, and only after several military defeats and pressure from the international community the Ukrainian authorities started to negotiate. As a result of the cooperation, a set of instruments later named the Minsk Agreements were signed. They were approved by the world community, which was reflected in the UN Security Council resolution adopted in 2015. Despite this, over the following years, the Ukrainian side continued to demonstrate a destructive position and lack of political will on the issue of a peaceful settlement of the conflict, without having fulfilled a single paragraph of the Minsk agreements.
Thus, the continuing provocations by the armed forces of Ukraine did not allow for the observance of a comprehensive, unconditional, stable and unlimited ceasefire. There have been more than 20 attempts to achieve it during the military confrontation in Donbass. Only this year, there were three truces – the “Christmas” one, which became effective on December 29, 2018, the “Spring” one – since March 8, 2019, and the “Harvest” one – since July 21, 2019.
During the two months since the last of them, the Ukrainian side has shown its unwillingness to comply with its obligations, which has resulted in a number of gross violations of the norms and requirements of international humanitarian law.
In particular, in violation of Article 13 of Protocol II Additional to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949 relative to the Protection of Victims of Non-international Armed Conflicts, civilians, residential buildings and civilian infrastructure continue to be targeted by armed formations of Ukraine. So, since the resumption of the ceasefire on July 21 of this year, two civilians were killed, ten more were injured.
During the reporting period, a number of gross violations of international humanitarian law were documented. Thus, in violation of Article 14 of Protocol II Additional to the Geneva Conventions, the Ukrainian side continued to attack objects that are of particular importance for the livelihoods of civilians. Over the past week alone, the vicinity of the Vasilievskaia pumping station was under numerous attacks, and the Ukrainian side also endangered the life and health of the civilian personnel of the facility. In addition, the Republic’s power transmission lines are often subjected to shelling. On September 18, when Elenovka village came under shelling by the Ukrainian armed formations, a high-voltage power line of 110 kV “Starobeshevo TPP – Elenovka tiagovaia No. 2”, which supplies the railway, a bakery, a kindergarten and a school, was damaged causing electricity shortage for more than 900 civilians.
Vegetation fires in the fields caused by attacks by the Ukrainian army pose additional threat to the life and health of civilians. Only after the resumption of ceasefire there were three cases of fires in farmland in Cominternovo settlement documented. Due to the ongoing shelling, fires cannot always be immediately extinguished, and fire brigades are often targeted.
So, during a fire extinguishing on September 1 in the village of Kominternovo, as a result of targeted shelling, a fire truck of the DPR Ministry of Emergency Situations burned down. On September 11, as a result of shelling against the village of Trudovskaia mine a detached house caught fire. A fire brigade arrived to extinguish it. Despite the security guarantees provided by the Ukrainian side, the armed forces of Ukraine opened fire against firefighters of the Ministry of Emergencies of the DPR, who were extinguishing the fire, which has led injuries of varying severities to three employees. On September 16, as a result of shelling by incendiary munitions, a fire occurred in the field of the village of mine named after Abakumov. A fire brigade of the Ministry of Emergencies, which arrived at the scene, localized the flame, preventing it from spreading to civilian infrastructure.
In addition, the armed forces of Ukraine continue to use unmanned aerial vehicles for indiscriminate attacks on housing objects and civilian infrastructure of the Republic. Thus, as a result of the attack by the Ukrainian UAV, residential buildings and outbuildings in Golmovsky urban-type village were damaged.
Thanks to the prompt response by the People’s Militia of the Donetsk People’s Republic, other civilian casualties were avoided as a result of attacks using UAVs. So, on September 18, a Ukrainian UAV launched to adjust mortar fire near the Kominternovo village, Novoazovsk region, was shot down. Earlier, two Ukrainian UAVs were shot down on approach to the city of Gorlovka and the village of Kominternovo, Novoazovsk district.
As part of her activities, the Human Rights Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic documents these and other incidents of violations of the norms and requirements of international humanitarian law, violations of human rights and freedoms on the part of Ukraine. All available levers are used to influence official Kiev in order to prevent a further escalation of violence and a critical deterioration of the social and humanitarian situation in the region. To do this, these facts are brought to the attention of international human rights organizations, the Minsk negotiation platform is used. In her statements, Daria Morozova repeatedly noted the commitment of the Donetsk People’s Republic to a peaceful resolution of the conflict, as well as the need to strictly follow the principles and provisions of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements. Only this will make it possible to achieve the restoration of sustainable peace in the territory of Donbass and respect for the rights and freedoms of its residents.
Upon a human rights violation, the need to restore one’s rights, to obtain legal advice or appeal against actions (omission) of state bodies or authorities, citizens can apply to the Ombudsman in a way that is convenient for them.
Now, the majority of applications are still verbal and submitted through personal reception either with the Ombudsman or staff of the Office, addressing the Public Complaints and Appeals Department, via hotlines and via web-reception on the Website of the Ombudsman. There is a possibility to file a written complaint that may be submitted either in person or via e-mail.
On 18 September, staff of DPR Ombudsman Office held an on-site reception of citizens at the City Administration of Khartsysk.
At the reception, citizens raised issues related to pension payment and disapproval of neighbours’ actions regarding violation of the rules of good neighbourliness in terms of harmful effects on a neighbouring land plot.
The human rights defenders promptly provided exhaustive consultation and clarification on the applicable legislation and on the procedure for appealing actions (omission) of state bodies and officials.
Since the beginning of 2019, the Ombudsman received 4884 complaints. In the period of work between 14 and 20 September 2019, 39 people received counselling by the Appeals department, 1 written complaint was accepted; 8 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 8 people received legal counselling, and 2 people – through on-site reception. 24 written appeals were approved for consideration, 9 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 43 calls were received via hotlines, 18 applications were received via e-mail.
All appeals received can be divided into nine categories: violations in criminal law – 471 appeals, violations in civil law – 509 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 52 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of judiciary – 164 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of law-enforcement authorities and servicemen – 276 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of government officials – 210 appeals, social, humanitarian and economic issues – 1887 appeals, issues connected with the political and military situation in DPR – 884 appeals, other issues – 431 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 20.09.2019
Violations in criminal law
Сomplaints against the acts or omissions of judiciary
Social, humanitarian and economic issues
Violations in civil law
Сomplaints against the acts or omissions of law-enforcement authorities and servicemen
issues connected with hostilities
Administrative and legal violations against citizens
complaints against the acts or omissions of government officials
Among all incoming correspondence to the Ombudsman of DPR, the one which deals with the issues of exercise of social rights of citizens and violations of these rights is the most frequent. These issues are: pension and social payments, benefits, disability, humanitarian aid – 601 appeals; transportation, communication and consumer rights – 58 appeals; issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 354 appeals, migration legislation issues – 527 appeals, labour legislation issues – 172 appeals, healthcare issues – 155 appeals, issues of education, culture and sport – 20 appeals. (Diagram 2).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens on social and humanitarian issues, received by the DPR Ombudsman`s Office as of 20.09.2019
Pension and social payments, benefits, disability, humanitarian aid
Migration legislation issues
Transportation, communication and consumer rights
Labour legislation issues
Issues of education, culture and sport
Issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services
The majority of complaints are traditionally received from Donetsk, by territory (Diagram 3).
The number of appeals (complains, applications) from citizens, received by the DPR Ombudsman`s Office as of 20.09.2019
- Death toll, injuries to civilians and soldiers as a result of hostilities in the territory of the Donetsk People`s Republic.
The DPR Ombudsman’s Office documents cases of violations of Donbass citizens’ rights by the Ukrainian side: the right to life, to security of the person.
On 14 September, as a result of hostilities in the Novoazovsk region, a DPR serviceman born in 1979 sustained mina-blast trauma and crush injury of ankle-joint and foot.
On 12 September, as a result of shelling against Trudovskaia mine in Petrovsky district of Donetsk, a civilian man born in 1974 sustained gunshot bullet wound to the lower-third of his right shin.
It has been reported that a DPR serviceman born in 1985 had sustained blunt non-penetrating shrapnel wound to left side of the chest as a result of hostilities outside Kominternovo village on 13 September 2019.
Within the period between 14 and 20 September 2019, 2 persons sustained injuries in the Donetsk People’s Republic as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine, including 1 DPR serviceman and 1 civilian man.
Within the period between 1 January and 20 September 2019, 166 people, including 111 DPR servicemen, 20 civilian women, 32 civilian men and 3 children sustained injuries as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
Within the period between 14 and 20 September 2019, 1 DPR serviceman died in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Within the period between 1 January and 20 September 2019, 140 people, including 131 DPR servicemen, 6 civilian women and 3 civilian men died as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
To be specific, since the beginning of the armed conflict 4869 people died, including 81 children.
Officially confirmed information on individuals, who have been wounded since the beginning of the conflict continues to be reported to the Ombudsman’s Office in DPR.
- Register of the prisoners of war, missing soldiers
n the reporting period, the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic didn’t receive any appeals on arrest.
Based on the updated figures as of 20.09.2019, 237 people are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 88 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been established and confirmed. One person was killed in the city of Mariupol and 2 persons were released as they have served their sentence. 12 people were released as part of the exchange of detainees and convicted persons that took place between the Russian Federation and Ukraine on 7 September 2019;
– 149 people whose whereabouts are unknown or are pending clarification by the Ukrainian side. One person was released as he has served his sentence. 2 people were released as part of the exchange of detainees and convicted persons that took place between the Russian Federation and Ukraine on 7 September 2019;
This week the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic didn’t receive any appeals on missing persons.
As of 20 September 2019, 460 people are considered missing. They could have been taken prisoner in Ukraine.
- Register of displaced persons and affected citizens.
At the time of armed conflict, the civilian population living in the zone of fighting and near the contact line is often affected. With the view to protect the human right to life and security of the person, and to provide assistance to victims as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine, social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres).
With the coming into force of the Order of the Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic No. 137 of 24.04.2018, Territorial commissions in cities and districts are now responsible for accommodating affected civilians. They work under supervision of the Republican Commission on Resettlement of Affected Persons chaired by the DPR Human Rights Ombudsman.
On 15 September, a visit to the Donetsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre named after A. Solovyanenko was organized for children from families affected by armed conflict in Donbass. The students living in social housing objects had the opportunity to see a musical play “Frog Princess”.
The event was organized thanks to cooperation between the Human Rights Ombudsman Office and the Ministry of Culture of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
During the period of work between 14 and 20 September 2019, 8 people have applied to the Ombudsman’s Office on the issues related to being affected by the armed conflict. There are currently 1055 accommodation places in the Donetsk People’s Republic available for citizens affected by hostilities. Since the beginning of the conflict, 6825 people, including 1648 children have been registered as persons affected as a result of the conflict. 65 social housing objects have been opened in the territory of DPR. 53 of them operate, 12 of them are held in reserve. Currently, 2262 people live in social housing objects of the Donetsk Administration, including 424 underage children, 4563 people live in the housing fund, including 1224 children.
- Protection of children’s rights
The need to protect the rights and freedoms of children is provided for in the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child, 1924, and the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, adopted by the UN General Assembly on November 20, 1959, recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 23 and 24), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 10), as well as in national legislation (Article 31 of the Constitution of the Donetsk People’s Republic).
The Human Rights Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic pays special attention to this issue in her activities. In the view to ensure effective protection of children’s rights and freedoms by the state, according to the established schedule of visits to child social institutions, on 17 September representatives of the DPR Human Rights Ombudsman Office conducted a follow-up inspection of the educational process and living conditions in the public general-education institution Uglegorsk Special Boarding School No.6 attended by 70 children aged 7 to 16 with cognitive development disorder.
Representatives of the Human Rights Ombudsman noted the improvements made since the previous visit. The institution acquired a vehicle – a bus manufactured by PAZ, which is used for transportation of children.
At the time of the visit, refurbishment was being made in levels 3 and 4 of the building, and outside there were facade decoration works. For children there are cosy classrooms, playrooms, bedrooms, an assembly hall and a canteen.
As part of the visit, representatives of the Ombudsman Office met the leading staff of the institution. They discussed living conditions, medical treatment, education, cultural and disciplinary measures. The Administration of the institution reported that the previous summer forty students attended a children’s health camp in Snezhnoe, and ten children had the opportunity to spend holidays in the city of Anapa, the Russian Federation.
Education and living environment for children in the Uglegorsk Special Boarding School No.6 received a positive assessment from the staff of DPR Ombudsman Office.