This week, there were many events dedicated to the Day of the Liberation of Donbass from fascist invaders in the Donetsk People’s Republic. It is noteworthy that in 2019 this date, which is legendary and deeply respected by residents of the region, coincided with the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Fascism, which is annually celebrated on the second Sunday of September.
Millions of people around the world remember those who suffered from fascism, and also pay tribute to those who fought against it. The International Day was established in 1962. September was chosen because in this month two key events related to the Second World War occurred – the day when it started (September 1, 1939) and the day when it ended (September 2, 1945). One of the main goals of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Fascism is to prevent the revival of this dangerous ideology, which once led to the most large-scale confrontation in the history of mankind. The international community is unanimous that every effort must be made to prevent the development of neo-fascism in the modern world.
However, not only this problem is critical now, but it also is becoming alarming in some of the countries. So, as a result of the coup d’état that took place in Ukraine in 2014, a regime came to power that implements a radical and extremely hostile policy towards all those who do not keep to the official ideology. Residents of Donbass, who advocated the preservation of their historical memory and national-cultural identity and decided to fight against the revival of fascism, were subjected to armed aggression, the victims of which were tens of thousands of people on both sides.
Only after the heavy defeat of the armed formations of Ukraine in the battles for the city of Ilovaisk five years ago, in late August – early September 2014, as well as pressure from the international community, official Kiev sat at the table of negotiations despite the fact that before the Ukrainian side had not made any attempts for the peaceful settlement of the conflict. The negotiations resulted in the signing of the Minsk Protocol on September 5, 2014, which marked the beginning of a lengthy process aimed at de-escalating violence and finding ways to resolve the conflict.
Despite some success achieved, this process is still ongoing. The Ukrainian authorities have not fully implemented any of the clauses of the agreements reached within the Minsk format. This is largely due to the categorical, implacable and uncompromising position of official Kiev, which is based on radical nationalism, intolerance and discrimination.
This is demonstrated not only in the foreign policy, but also in domestic relations. Impunity of right-wing radical activists, indulgence and encouragement of their actions by the authorities lead to further deterioration of the human rights situation, the inability to maintain rule of law and justice in Ukraine. This was repeatedly confirmed by international human rights organizations in their reports. In the Report on the Human Rights Situation in Ukraine for the period from February 16 to May 15, 2019, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern about the lack of progress in the investigation and prosecution of the murders committed during the protests on Maidan, as a result of violence of May 2, 2014 in Odessa, as well as for numerous attacks on media professionals and public activists, pressure on courts and a number of other high-profile incidents.
At the same time, opponents of the Ukrainian regime are subjected to persecution, enforced disappearances, unlawful detention, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, which is also stressed by human rights defenders. Crimes committed on ethnic and religious grounds are becoming more widespread, discrimination on the grounds of language and place of residence was even enshrined in law, and hatred and xenophobia are being actively imposed, including by representatives of the Ukrainian authorities. The aforementioned is a matter of growing concern by the world community regarding unfavorable trends in the development and prevalence in Ukraine of the dangerous ideology and related practice.
In her statements, the Human Rights Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic calls on not only to pay attention and give due consideration to the numerous incidents of violations of human rights and freedoms, as well as international humanitarian law by the Ukrainian side, but also to use all available mechanisms of influence on the leadership of Ukraine in order to prevent the escalation of violence and further deterioration of the socio-humanitarian situation in the region. Progressive humanity, remembering the mistakes of the past and advocating for the well-being of future generations, must unite to jointly resist the revival of fascism and other forms of hatred, discrimination and xenophobia. Without a radical reconsideration of the vector of the further development of Ukraine, restoration of peace is impossible, as well as ensuring the observance of human rights and freedoms.
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 4 September, staff of DPR Ombudsman Office held an on-site reception of citizens at the City Administration of Shakhtyorsk. At the reception, citizens raised issues related to: providing assistance to people who found themselves in a difficult life situation, repair of premises and enrolment of a child in a pre-school educational institution. The human rights defenders gave advice on the above-mentioned issues.
Since the beginning of 2019, the Ombudsman received 4649 complaints. In the period of work between 31 August and 6 September 2019, 32 people received counselling by the Appeals department, 4 written complaints were accepted; 6 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 5 people received legal counselling. 9 written appeals were approved for consideration, 12 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 28 calls were received via hotlines, 21 applications were received via e-mail.
All appeals received can be divided into nine categories: violations in criminal law – 440 appeals, violations in civil law – 489 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 51 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of judiciary – 159 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of law-enforcement authorities and servicemen – 259 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of government officials – 197 appeals, social, humanitarian and economic issues – 1806 appeals, issues connected with the political and military situation in DPR – 846 appeals, other issues – 402 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 06.09.2019
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 – 580 appeals; transportation, communication and consumer rights – 57 appeals; issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 337 appeals, migration legislation issues – 507 appeals, labour legislation issues – 161 appeals, healthcare issues – 146 appeals, issues of education, culture and sport – 18 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 06.09.2019
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 05.04.2019
- 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 6 September, in the Novoazovsk region, a civilian woman born in 1957 sustained burns in a fire that was caused by shelling. Another woman sustained contusion, and she refused to go to hospital.
Within the period between 30 August and 6 September 2019, 2 civilian women sustained injuries in the Donetsk People’s Republic as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
Within the period between 1 January and 6 September 2019, 155 people, including 108 DPR servicemen, 18 civilian women, 26 civilian men and 3 children sustained injuries as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
Within the period between 30 August and 6 September 2019, 8 DPR servicemen died in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Within the period between 1 January and 6 September 2019, 135 people, including 127 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 4864 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 didn’t receive any appeals on arrest.
Based on the updated figures as of 06.09.2019, 255 people are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 103 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been established and confirmed;
A man born in 1978 was released under the Ukrainian legislation. Another man was added to the list from the list of people whose whereabouts are unknown or are pending clarification by the Ukrainian side;
– 152 people whose whereabouts are unknown or are pending clarification by the Ukrainian side. The whereabouts of one person was found and confirmed in the territory controlled by Ukrainian authorities;
This week the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic hasn’t received any appeals on missing persons.
As of 6 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 5 August, Human Rights Ombudsman Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic took stock of another round of delivery of humanitarian aid. Residents of Donetsk, Enakievo, Zugres, Makeevka, Khartsysk, Shakhtyorsk and urban-type settlement Novy Svet, Starobeshevo region, received about 1800 humanitarian aid packages with food, hygiene products and household chemicals. The beneficiaries were citizens living in social housing objects who suffered from injuries or material damage as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine, people persecuted by other states for supporting the Donetsk People’s Republic, family members of people who lost their lives due to hostilities, and people who became invalids of 1 and 2 category as a result of being wounded.
The humanitarian assistance has been provided as part of cooperation between the Human Rights Ombudsman Office and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
During the period of work between 31 August and 6 September 2019, 6 people 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, 6831 people, including 1679 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, 2267 people live in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) of the Donetsk Administration, including 426 underage children, 4564 people live in the housing fund, including 1253 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 4 September, representatives of the DPR Human Rights Ombudsman Office conducted a follow-up inspection of the educational process and living conditions in the Makeevka Special General Education Boarding School No.36 attended by 119 children with cognitive development disorder.
Representatives of the Human Rights Ombudsman noted the improvements made since the previous visit. Last summer, refurbishment was made in the “rainbow” room, which serves as an assembly hall for representatives of a student self-government called “The Rainbow Republic”.
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 leading staff was recommended to consider fixing beds with malformed armour-clad grid.
Education and living environment for children in the Makeevka Special Boarding School No.36 received a positive assessment from the staff of DPR Ombudsman Office.