At the last meeting of the Humanitarian Subgroup in Minsk, no response was provided regarding the progress of the procedural preparation of detainees for the exchange. Earlier, on July 17, Ukraine asked for a six-week delay, but time is out and there are no visible results so far. Lack of progress was observed on other issues as well.
The main issue, as a basis of peaceful settlement, is the one discussed within the Political Subgroup. On September 18 in Minsk, Kiev refused to sign the “Steinmeier formula”, jeopardizing the very process of peaceful settlement. “The Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements” provides for amending the Law on Special Status, its incorporation in the Constitution, and amnesty by introducing a law prohibiting the prosecution of persons associated with the events in Donbass.
The peaceful settlement in Donbass has been largely dependent on the introduction of a special status of certain areas of Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which was approved by the UN Security Council and supported by the heads of state of the “Normandy four” – Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany.
Thus, the law “On the Special Order of Local Self-Governance in Certain Areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Regions” reads that the steps to implement political and security requirements should be carried out in parallel and cooperation with and exclusively in coordination with representatives of the Republics. In addition, this document contains special conditions, the status of the Russian language, economic relations with the regions of the Russian Federation, and a special program that the Ukrainian government would have applied for these areas.
The “Steinmeier Formula”, proposed in September 2015, is a compromise to hold elections in the territory of Donbass and grant special status to the region. This mechanism arose due to the refusal of the Ukrainian side to implement the political requirements of the Package of Measures. What’s important, certain areas of Donetsk and Lugansk regions, according to the mechanism, would be temporarily granted the special status at the time of the local elections, and the status would become permanent after the OSCE declared the election results valid. OSCE would also monitor the elections.
At the next meeting in the capital of Belarus, the DPR will reopen the issue of signing the “Steinmeier formula,” according to the Head of the Republic Denis Pushilin. He said: “Next Wednesday we will demand Kiev to sign the document previously agreed upon by the members of the “Normandy four”. Only in this way Kiev will no longer be able to refuse to grant a special status to the region.”
The position of official Kiev prevents progress in other subgroups as well. Thus, in the Security Subgroup and in the Political Subgroup, the representatives of Kiev in every possible way blocked the adoption of a schedule for eliminating violations at previously disengaged areas, as well as supplements to the Framework decision. On the contrary, Ukrainian politicians make statements aimed at disrupting the implementation of the Minsk Agreements and discrediting them.
At the same time, the Donetsk People’s Republic continues to insist that it is critical to strictly observe the Package of Measures. In particular, the Ombudsman insists on establishment of a written mechanism to procedurally prepare detainees to the exchange and calls on the Ukrainian side to ensure a stable and consistent exchange procedure. Only responsible fulfillment of the obligations undertaken will contribute to improving the social and humanitarian situation and ensuring the observance 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 4985 complaints. In the period of work between 21 and 27 September 2019, 26 attended personal reception of the Ombudsman; 30 people received counselling by the Appeals department, 3 written complaints were accepted; 11 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 5 people received legal counselling. 3 written appeals were approved for consideration, 16 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 36 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 – 478 appeals, violations in civil law – 515 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 – 277 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of government officials – 217 appeals, social, humanitarian and economic issues – 1930 appeals, issues connected with the political and military situation in DPR – 909 appeals, other issues – 443 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 27.09.2019
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 – 614 appeals; transportation, communication and consumer rights – 58 appeals; issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 360 appeals, migration legislation issues – 545 appeals, labour legislation issues – 177 appeals, healthcare issues – 156 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 27.09.2019
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 27.09.2019
- 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 22 September, outside Gorlovka, a civilian man born in 1951 sustained mine-blast trauma, blunt shrapnel wound to the left shin as a result of detonation of a trip wire.
On 23 September, as a result of hostilities in Novoazovsk region, a DPR serviceman born in 1963 sustained shrapnel wounds to his thighs and a shin.
As a result of shelling by armed formations of Ukraine against Kominternovo village, Novoazovsk region, a civilian woman born in 1952 sustained an injury of the inside of her right thigh.
Within the period between 20 and 26 September 2019, 3 persons sustained injuries in the Donetsk People’s Republic as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine, including 1 DPR serviceman, 1 civilian woman and 1 civilian man.
Within the period between 1 January and 26 September 2019, 169 people, including 112 DPR servicemen, 21 civilian women, 33 civilian men and 3 children sustained injuries as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
Within the period between 20 and 26 September 2019, no casualties were documented in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Within the period between 1 January and 26 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
In the reporting period, the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic received an appeal on arrest of a man, born in 1991, in August 2019.
Based on the updated figures as of 27.09.2019, 238 people are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 88 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been established and confirmed;
– 150 people whose whereabouts are unknown or are pending clarification by the Ukrainian side.
This week the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic received one appeal on missing persons. A man born in 1972 lost contact with his family in July 2014.
As of 27 September 2019, 461 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 20 September, as part of cooperation of the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic and the International Committee of the Red Cross a mobility aid for persons with disabilities (a wheelchair) was handed over to a man born in 1972 who has suffered as a result of the armed conflict and resides in a social housing object. Also, representatives of the Ombudsman’s Office provided him with humanitarian aid in the form of bed linens and a blanket.
During the period of work between 21 and 27 September 2019, 11 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, 6834 people, including 1649 children have been registered as persons affected as a result of the conflict. 64 social housing objects have been opened in the territory of DPR (one object in Donetsk was closed for major renovation under decision of the Ministry of Education of the DPR). 52 of them operate, 12 of them are held in reserve. Currently, 2261 people live in social housing objects of the Donetsk Administration, including 424 underage children, 4573 people live in the housing fund, including 1225 children.