The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights continues to document cases of violations by members of the armed forces and other security forces of Ukraine of the human rights to life and personal integrity, as well as the facts of unlawful deprivation of liberty of supporters of the Donetsk People’s Republic. This was noted by the OHCHR in the 27th Report on the Human Rights Situation in Ukraine for the period from May 16 to August 15, 2019, which is based on the results of the work of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU).
Thus the human rights defenders documented the following incident: on 7 August 2019, the man was detained at a Petropavlovka checkpoint by national police because he was named on the Myrotvorets website. The report says that between 7 and 12 August SBU officers held him in unofficial places of detention. The man was questioned several times without a lawyer, forced to take a polygraph test and filmed making a forced confession to participating in armed groups. On 9 August, the man was taken to the prosecutor’s office where he met his free legal aid lawyer for the first time and received a notice of suspicion under article 258-3 (creation of a terrorist group or a terrorist organisation) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. The same day, a judge of the Sieverodonetsk City Court scheduled a court hearing for 12 August without ordering his detention. Nevertheless, after the hearing, when his lawyer had left, SBU officers continued to arbitrarily detain him for two nights. On 12 August, he was brought to Lysychansk City Court and the court ordered he be put in custody for 60 days.
The Office of the Commissioner noted that the Myrotvorets (“Peacemaker”) website publishes the personal data of individuals labelled as “terrorists”. This violates the presumption of innocence, and the rights to privacy and personal data protection. It is often used as the sole reason to arrest individuals.
OHCHR continues to document cases of ill-treatment of persons previously detained by Ukrainian security forces. Based on the evidence, human rights activists note an alarming trend in the use of torture in the SBU, cases of which are often reported.
In particular, the case of arbitrary detention by the Security Service of Ukraine on April 14, 2016 of a man in the Kharkov region is described in detail. “The officials handcuffed him, put him in a minivan, and drove in an unknown direction. In a forest, five or six men in balaclavas beat, kicked and jumped on him while he was lying on the ground. The men forced him to kneel and a gun was pointed at his head. During the beating, the man was asked about his alleged cooperation with, and financing received from, the Russian Federation,” says the Report.
Afterwards, SBU officers searched his house and brought him again to the forest, where he was again beaten and electrocuted, and then taken to the Kharkov SBU with a bag over his head. “There, he was forced to sign papers he could not read before being released,” says the Report.
Also, the Document conveys concerns over “persistent allegations that during pre-trial investigations in conflict-related criminal cases, ammunition or other incriminating evidence was planted in suspects’ homes.” In the reporting period, five cases became known that testified to the falsification of evidence in order to strengthen the weak cases.
OHCHR representatives note that impunity for violations and infringement by the Ukrainian side of human rights in the territory of Donbass indicate the lack of effective investigation and prosecution of perpetrators.
This was repeatedly highlighted by the Human Rights Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic Daria Morozova in her statements. “The human life and health mean nothing to representatives of the power structures of Ukraine, and the lack of proper response from the international community strengthens their confidence in impunity and encourages new crimes,” said the Ombudsman.
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 5111 complaints. In the period of work between 28 September and 4 October 2019, 4 attended personal reception of the Ombudsman; 37 people received counselling by the Appeals department, 3 written complaints were accepted; 7 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 5 people received legal counselling. 10 written appeals were approved for consideration, 13 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 45 calls were received via hotlines, 19 applications were received via e-mail.
All appeals received can be divided into nine categories: violations in criminal law – 486 appeals, violations in civil law – 528 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 52 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of judiciary – 167 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of law-enforcement authorities and servicemen – 281 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of government officials – 222 appeals, social, humanitarian and economic issues – 1982 appeals, issues connected with the political and military situation in DPR – 937 appeals, other issues – 456 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 04.10.2019
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 – 626 appeals; transportation, communication and consumer rights – 61 appeals; issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 369 appeals, migration legislation issues – 561 appeals, labour legislation issues – 184 appeals, healthcare issues – 159 appeals, issues of education, culture and sport – 22 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 04.10.2019
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 04.10.2019
- 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 29 September, as a result of shelling by armed formations of Ukraine against the city of Gorlovka, a civilian man, born in 1951, sustained blunt shrapnel wound to lower-third of his right shoulder.
On 30 September, as a result of provocative fire by Ukrainian forces against “Mayorsk” checkpoint, a civilian man, born in 1960, sustained shrapnel wound to frontal region of head.
On 2 October, as a result of hostilities in Novoazovsk region, a DPR serviceman, born in 1996, sustained a traumatic brain injury.
On 3 October, as a result of shelling outside Staromikhailovka village, a civilian man, born in 1982, sustained gunshot shrapnel blunt wound to the left wing of his nose.
Within the period between 27 September and 3 October 2019, 4 persons sustained injuries in the Donetsk People’s Republic as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine, including 1 DPR serviceman and 3 civilian men.
Within the period between 1 January and 3 October 2019, 173 people, including 113 DPR servicemen, 21 civilian women, 36 civilian men and 3 children sustained injuries and traumas of varying severities as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
Within the period between 27 September and 3 October 2019, 3 DPR servicemen lost their lives in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Within the period between 1 January and 3 October 2019, 143 people, including 134 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 4872 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 raw information on keeping 23 people in custody in the territory of Ukraine. These people were arrested within the period of the last two years. They approached the Ombudsman’s Office as they had no other possibility to address any other competent authority.
Based on the updated figures as of 4 September 2019, 261 people are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 88 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been established and confirmed;
– 173 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 two appeals on missing persons. A man, born in 1975, lost contact with his family in June 2015. Another appeal received was about a man, born in 1990, who went missing in 2015.
As of 4 October 2019, 463 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.
During the period of work between 28 September and 4 October 2019, 7 people have applied to the Ombudsman’s Office on the issues related to being affected by the armed conflict. There are currently 1047 accommodation places in the Donetsk People’s Republic available for citizens affected by hostilities. Since the beginning of the conflict, 6824 people, including 1637 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). 53 of them operate, 11 of them are held in reserve. Currently, 2267 people live in social housing objects of the Donetsk Administration, including 424 underage children, 4557 people live in the housing fund, including 1213 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 1 October, representatives of the DPR Human Rights Ombudsman Office conducted a follow-up inspection of the educational process and living conditions in the state educational institution “Yasinovataia Sanatorium boarding school No.14” (previously, Yasinovataia Sanatorium general-education primary boarding school No.14). At the moment, there are 120 students aged from 6 to 16 with diseases of the muscular-skeletal system (scoliosis). Representatives of the Human Rights Ombudsman noted the improvements made since the previous visit. The institution acquired a vehicle – a bus, which serves for transportation of children. A fence of the institution was renovated. Also, refurbishment was made in the main hall and a corridor of the administrative unit.
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.
Education and living environment for children in the State educational institution “Yasinovataia Sanatorium boarding school No.14” received a positive assessment from the staff of DPR Ombudsman Office.