The Special Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group for the settlement of the conflict in Donbass, Ambassador Martin Sajdik, commenting on the results of the first month from the date of the renewal of the obligation on July 21, 2019 to observe a comprehensive, unconditional, stable and unlimited ceasefire, described the ceasefire as most effective one as compared to those announced previously.
Nevertheless, gross violations by the Ukrainian side of the norms and requirements of international humanitarian law, as well as of obligations undertaken under international treaties, continue to occur. In violation of Article 13 of Protocol II Additional to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, Relating to the Protection Of Victims Of Non-International Armed Conflicts (hereinafter – Protocol II), civilians, infrastructure and housing are targeted or under threat of destruction as a result of the actions of the Ukrainian side.
Since the beginning of ceasefire, two civilians became victims of such acts. On July 25, as a result of the detonation of an explosive device planted by a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group, a woman born in 1958 residing in the urban-type settlement Zaitsevo sustained injuries incompatible with life. During the examination of the scene, two more anti-personnel mines were found. The above is a violation of Article 1 of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, signed and ratified by Ukraine. In addition, on August 15, during shelling by the armed forces of Ukraine in Zaitsevo, a civilian man born in 1963 sustained multiple injuries.
Ammunition used by the Ukrainian side increasingly leads to the ignition of residential and farm buildings, as well as of vegetation. At the same time, the ongoing shelling often prevents fire brigades from the timely elimination of the consequences, which creates additional threats to the local population and agricultural land. These actions, in addition to the above, are qualified as a violation of Article 14 of Additional Protocol II, which prohibits attacking agricultural areas, crops and other objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population. Similar incidents were documented in the city of Gorlovka, the urban-type settlement of Zaitsevo, the village of Kominternovo, Novoazovsk district, and other settlements.
Also, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for indiscriminate attacks on civilian objects located in the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic has become more frequent. For example, on August 14, a UAV equipped with ammunition of indiscriminate effect was launched to a residential area in Petrovsky District of Donetsk from a Ukrainian military position.
Some of the objects located nearby – a kindergarten, a school, two electric stations and other objects of civilian infrastructure and housing fund – could have been targets of attack. Fortunately, thanks to the prompt response by DPR defenders the tragedy was avoided.
Nevertheless, this incident is a violation of the Convention on the Prohibition or Restriction of the Use of Specific Conventional Weapons, which may be considered to cause excessive damage or have indiscriminate effect, which was signed and ratified by Kiev.
Thus, such acts of aggression by the Ukrainian side not only contradict initiatives for a peaceful settlement of the conflict in the territory of Donbass, but are also a gross violation of the norms and requirements of international humanitarian law and Ukraine’s obligations under international treaties.
In her activities, the Human Rights Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic keeps record of these and other cases of unlawful practices by the armed formations of Ukraine and provides this information to international human rights organizations. This is necessary to ensure that the incidents are properly documented in the relevant reports of human rights defenders and are subject to legal assessment. This also contributes to the formation of an unbiased view of the situation by the world community and helps influence on the Ukrainian authorities in terms of suppressing and preventing further violations of the rights and freedoms of Donbass 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.
Since the beginning of 2019, the Ombudsman received 4414 complaints. In the period of work between 17 and 23 August 2019, 4 persons attended personal reception of the Ombudsman, 35 persons received counselling by the Appeals department, 6 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 11 persons received legal counselling. 11 written appeals were approved for consideration, 27 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 38 calls were received via hotlines, 13 applications were received via e-mail.
All appeals received can be divided into nine categories: violations in criminal law – 415 appeals, violations in civil law – 465 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 50 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of judiciary – 152 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of law-enforcement authorities and servicemen – 248 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of government officials – 189 appeals, social, humanitarian and economic issues – 1711 appeals, issues connected with the political and military situation in DPR – 808 appeals, other issues – 376 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 23.08.2019
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 – 552 appeals; transportation, communication and consumer rights – 55 appeals; issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 317 appeals, migration legislation issues – 483 appeals, labour legislation issues – 150 appeals, healthcare issues – 139 appeals, issues of education, culture and sport – 15 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 23.08.2019
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 23.08.2019
- 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 18 August, as a result of hostilities outside Debaltsevo, two DPR servicemen born in 1986 and 1975 sustained mina-blast traumas and shrapnel wounds.
Within the period between 16 and 22 August 2019, 2 DPR servicemen sustained injuries in the Donetsk People’s Republic as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
Within the period between 1 January and 22 August 2019, 146 persons, including 101 DPR servicemen, 16 civilian women and 26 civilian men and 3 children sustained injuries as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
Within the period between 16 July and 22 August 2019, no deaths reported in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Within the period between 1 January and 22 August 2019, 119 persons, including 111 DPR servicemen, 5 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 4848 persons 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
In the reporting period, the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic received one appeal on arrest of a man born in 1979. At the moment, he is held in Kharkov SIZO.
Based on the updated figures as of 23.08.2019, 256 persons are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 103 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been established and confirmed. One person, whose presence in the territory of Ukraine was confirmed, was added to the list.
– 153 persons whose whereabouts are unknown or are pending clarification by the Ukrainian side. One person, whose presence in the territory of Ukraine was confirmed, was removed from the list.
This week the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic hasn’t received any appeals on missing persons.
As of 23 August 2019, 460 persons 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.
During the period of work between 17 and 23 August 2019, 6 persons have applied to the Ombudsman’s Office on the issues related to being affected by the armed conflict. There are currently 1078 accommodation places in the Donetsk People’s Republic available for citizens affected by hostilities. Since the beginning of the conflict, 6824 persons, including 1683 children have been registered as persons affected as a result of the conflict. 77 social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) have been opened in the territory of DPR. 54 of them operate, 23 of them are held in reserve. Currently, 2276 persons live in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) of the Donetsk Administration, including 426 underage children, 4548 persons live in the housing fund, including 1257 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 20 August representatives of the DPR Human Rights Ombudsman Office conducted an inspection of the educational process and living conditions in Shakhtyorsk Child Welfare Centre.
Currently, 29 children aged from 3 to 18 in difficult life situations are staying in the facility around-the-clock. Children are provided with comprehensive social, psychological, educational, medical, legal and other types of assistance. Social and pedagogical correction is carried out based on individual needs of each child. Also, the specialists promote reintegration to the family.
Every week children visit Shakhtyorsk park of culture and recreation “Yubileiny” as part of leisure management.
Representatives of the Ombudsman Office met the leading staff of the institution. They discussed living conditions, medical treatment, education, cultural and disciplinary measures.
As a result of the inspection, education and living environment for children in the Shakhtyorsk Child Welfare Centre received a positive assessment from the staff of DPR Ombudsman Office.