On April 18, 2019, in the course of a scheduled video conference, the Contact Group on the peaceful resolution in Donbass could not agree on the conditions for renewing the parties’ obligations to impose a comprehensive and unconditional armistice on the eve of Holy Resurrection. Representatives of the official Kiev refused to discuss and take some additional measures to strengthen and control the cease-fire regime. The proposals of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, previously supported by the OSCE, were rejected.
There have been more than 20 ceasefire attempts during the armed conflict in Donbass. Only this year, two truces were agreed upon – the “Christmas truce”, which entered into force on December 29, 2018, and the “spring truce”— from March 8, 2019.
A complete ceasefire, envisaged by the “Christmas truce”, could not be achieved. Armed formations of Ukraine systematically violated it. This has led to civilian and military casualties, as well as to the destruction of housing facilities and infrastructure of the Donetsk People’s Republic. Zabichevo and Staromikhailovka villages on the north of Donetsk, Krutaia Balka, the village of Vasilievka near Yasinovataia, the Gagarin mine village, the city of Dokuchaevsk and many other areas were subjected to shelling. Sakhanka village was also targeted by the Ukrainian army. On February 25, 2019, the building of the only school operating in the village came under fire. Fortunately, the students did not suffer, as they were on holidays.
The “spring truce” was violated by the armed formations of Ukraine five minutes after its entry into force. The population of the Republic and the infrastructure of the region still suffer from the provocative fire of Ukrainian forces. Despite the truce was in force, the Vasilievka, Kashtanovoe, Veseloe, Dzerzhynskoe, Kominternovo, Sakhanka and Gorlovka settlements were repeatedly subject to shelling by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. On April 1, 2019, a cooperative garage and a children’s playground in the Golmovsky urban-type settlement came under mortar fire of the Ukrainian side. In addition, in violation of Article 14 of Additional Protocol II of 8 June 1977 to the Geneva Conventions, the armed forces of Ukraine regularly attack critical civilian infrastructure. Thus, the Vasilievskaia pumping station, which supplies residents of 40 settlements on both sides of the contact line (a total of about 1.8 million people), was subjected to repeated attacks.
According to the DPR Representatives in the Special Centre for Control and Coordination, during the “Christmas” and “spring” truces, the Armed Forces of Ukraine violated the cease-fire regime 1,195 times. As a result, 141 houses and 26 infrastructure facilities in the Republic were damaged. According to the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic, while the truce was effective in 2019, 50 people sustained injuries of varying severities, and 47 people were killed in the territory of the Republic as a result of the armed aggression of Ukraine. At the same time, the Ukrainian side continues to conduct military operations, using armaments prohibited by the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements.
Despite the need for a peaceful settlement of the armed conflict in Donbass, statements by representatives of Kiev about the desire to conclude an “Easter truce” turned out to be just political rhetoric. The Ukrainian side, by its destructive position, prevented the resolution of the most important task of ensuring ceasefire, creating a precedent for a failure to agree on a truce.
In turn, the Donetsk People’s Republic is interested in the introduction of a comprehensive and unconditional cease-fire, which is only possible if additional measures are taken to strengthen and control it. This issue will be the key for discussion at the upcoming meeting in Minsk on April 24.
This agreement must be reached in order to stabilize the situation in Donbass. This would be a guarantee that millions of people on both sides of the line of contact not to endanger their lives and health during the Holy Resurrection.
A comprehensive and unconditional truce is a necessary step for a peaceful resolution of the conflict since armed confrontation leads to a deterioration of the human rights situation, particularly the fundamental right to life.
The post of the Human Rights Ombudsman was established in the Donetsk People’s Republic to ensure the state protection of the rights and freedoms of citizens, to prevent any form of discrimination regarding the exercise of rights and freedoms.
Citizens can apply to the Ombudsman in any suitable way. Now, the majority of applications are still verbal and submitted through personal reception either with the Ombudsman or authorities 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 17 April, staff of the DPR Ombudsman Office conducted an on-site reception of citizens in Starobeshevo region.
At the reception, citizens raised issues of health care and social security. Representatives of the Ombudsman Office provided detailed explanations of the norms of the current legislation regarding the above issues.
Also, a written application was accepted for further consideration by the DPR Ombudsman within her competence.
Since the beginning of 2019, the Ombudsman received 1842 complaints. In the period of work between 13 and 19 April 2019, 11 citizens attended personal reception of the Ombudsman, 47 persons received counselling by the Appeals department, 11 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 10 persons received legal counselling and 1 person through on-site reception. 12 written appeals were approved for consideration, 11 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 50 calls were received via hotlines, 30 applications were received via e-mail.
All appeals received can be divided into nine categories: violations in criminal law – 159 appeals, violations in civil law – 207 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 22 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of judiciary – 59 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of law-enforcement authorities and servicemen – 119 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of government officials – 71, social, humanitarian and economic issues – 765 appeals, issues connected with hostilities – 442 appeals, other issues – 162 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 19.04.2019
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 – 291 appeals; transportation, communication and consumer rights – 35 appeals; issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 140 appeals, migration legislation issues – 162 appeals, labour legislation issues – 65 appeals, healthcare issues – 69 appeals, issues of education, culture and sport – 3 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 19.04.2019
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 19.04.2019
- 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 13 April, as a result of shelling in Aleksandrovka village outside Donetsk, a civilian woman born in 1966 sustained shrapnel wound to the abdominal wall.
On 16 April, as a result of hostilities in Novoazovsk region, three DPR servicemen born in 1992, 1978 and 1989 sustained wounds of varying severities.
On 17 April, as a result of shelling in Novoazovsk region, a DPR serviceman born in 1973 sustained shrapnel wound to the left foot.
Within the period between 12 and 18 April 2019, 5 persons received injuries as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine in the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic, including 4 DPR servicemen and 1 civilian woman.
Within the period between 1 January and 18 April 2019, 55 persons, including 39 DPR servicemen, 5 civilian women and 11 civilian men sustained injuries of various severities.
As of 16 April 2019, 5 DPR servicemen have died in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Within the period between 1 January and 16 April 2019, 51 persons, including 47 DPR servicemen, 2 civilian women and 2 civilian men died as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
To be specific, since the beginning of the armed conflict 4780 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
This week the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic received one appeal on arrest.
A man born in 1954 was detained in April 2019. Now he is in custody of Mariupol remand prison (SIZO).
Based on the updated figures as of 19.04.2019, 254 persons are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 98 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been confirmed.
– 156 persons 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 a missing man born in 1978. He lost contact with his relatives in January 2019.
As of 19 April 2019, 461 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).
Since the beginning of the conflict 5380 referrals for accommodation in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres etc.) have been issued, 137 of them – in 2018. 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 13 and 19 April 2019, 11 persons have applied to the Ombudsman’s Office on the issues related to internally displaced persons. There are currently 1307 accommodation places in the Donetsk People’s Republic available for citizens affected by hostilities. Since the beginning of the conflict, 7206 persons, including 1751 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, 2448 persons live in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) of the Donetsk Administration, including 461 underage children, 4758 persons live in the housing fund of the DPR, including 1290 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 16 April representatives of the Ombudsman Office conducted an inspection of living conditions and educational process in the Donetsk Children’s Home No.1 “Teremok”. At the moment, 54 aged 3-7 years old live in the institution. They are orphans and children deprived of parental care.
One of the basic tasks of the Children’s home is to prepare children for school. For that purpose, with due consideration of children’s individual needs, general education programmes and additional programmes for pre-school education are used. Special attention is paid to preserving and strengthening the health of the students, development of personality and education of such qualities as active social life, creative approach, respect to traditional cultural values and patriotism.
As a result of the inspection, education and living environment for children in the Donetsk Children’s Home No.1 “Teremok” received a positive assessment from staff of DPR Ombudsman Office.