According to the decision of the United Nations General Assembly, March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, dedicated to a negative phenomenon that is still a concern in many countries around the world. The relevant Resolution adopted in 1966 provides for that racial discrimination should be considered a denial of human rights, fundamental freedoms and justice, and regarded as a crime against human dignity.
Every year the International Day has a different topic that raises the most acute issues related to the problem of racial discrimination. In 2019, this is a fight against populist, nationalist, right-wing agendas and racial superiority.
The United Nations report dated August 6, 2018, which deals with issues of contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, condemns nationalist populism, which promotes repressive methods in policies and practices that harm the interests of individuals and groups based on racial or ethnic origin, national origin or religion.
The same problems became acute in Ukraine after the 2014 coup d’état. Intolerance and persecution of dissent were supported by the state and have led to armed conflict in the territory of Donbass. Currently, the situation of those who disagree with the official Kiev’s policy is becoming worse, with cases of harassment in various forms, criminal prosecution, and physical attacks. The victims of right-wing activists are public figures, representatives of the media and national minorities, parishioners and priests. These crimes are rarely investigated properly and sometimes even justified by politicians and public officials.
This situation is unacceptable, as it contradicts the principles of democracy and international law, requires an objective assessment and appropriate response from the world community. The Human Rights Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic actively interacts with international organizations, providing information about the cases of violation on the part of Ukraine against the residents of Donbass.
The protection of human rights and freedoms and the prevention of harassment on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin or religion is still an acute problem in the modern world. And the efforts of all humanity must be focused on its resolution.
In accordance with Article 3 of the Constitution of the Donetsk People’s Republic, a person, his/her rights and freedoms are the highest value. The recognition, observance and protection of the human and civil rights and freedoms is the duty of the Donetsk People’s Republic, its state bodies and officials.
The post of the Human Rights Ombudsman has been established in order to ensure state protection of the rights and freedoms of citizens, to prevent any form of discrimination regarding the exercise of rights and freedoms in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
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 the heads 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 20 March, staff of the DPR Ombudsman Office together with representatives of the City Administration and other authorities conducted an on-site reception of citizens in Khartsysk.
6 citizens attended the reception in order to get assistance in restoring their rights and receive clarifications. They were provided with detailed explanations of the norms of the current legislation. Some of the problems have been promptly resolved.
As regards issues demanding further consideration, written appeals were accepted for review by the DPR Ombudsman within her competence.
Since the beginning of 2019, the Ombudsman received 1444 complaints. In the period of work between 16 and 22 March 2019, 4 citizens attended personal reception of the Ombudsman, 48 persons received counselling by the Appeals department, 14 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 10 persons received legal counselling, and 6 persons through on-site reception. 20 written appeals were approved for consideration, 26 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 48 calls were received via hotlines, 8 applications were received via e-mail.
All appeals received can be divided into nine categories: violations in criminal law – 98 appeals, violations in civil law – 131 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 17 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of judiciary – 30 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of law-enforcement authorities and servicemen – 85 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of government officials – 50, social, humanitarian and economic issues – 551 appeals, issues connected with hostilities – 352 appeals, other issues – 130 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 22.03.2019
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 – 216 appeals; transportation, communication and consumer rights – 31 appeals; issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 105 appeals, migration legislation issues – 105 appeals, labour legislation issues – 37 appeals, healthcare issues – 55 appeals, issues of education, culture and sport – 2 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 22.03.2019
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 22.03.2019
- Death toll, injuries to civilians and soldiers as a result of hostilities in the territory of the Donetsk People`s Republic.
Almost every day the DPR Ombudsman’s Office records cases of violations of Donbass citizens’ rights by Kiev authorities: the right to life, to security of the person.
On 16 March, as a result of hostilities in Novoazovsk region, DPR servicemen born in 1991 and 1969 sustained wounds of various severities.
On 19 March a DPR serviceman born in 1977 sustained a mine-blast trauma and multiple shrapnel wounds of various severities outside Debaltsevo. Also, a DPR serviceman born in 1979 sustained shrapnel wounds of the chest and of the jaw.
As a result of shelling in Petrovsky district of Donetsk, a DPR serviceman born in 1986 was wounded.
On 21 March, as a result of hostilities in Novoazovsk region, a DPR serviceman born in 1974 sustained multiple shrapnel wounds to the abdominal and the chest area.
Within the period between 15 and 21 March 2019, 6 DPR servicemen were wounded in the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Within the period between 1 January and 21 March 2019, 29 persons, including 20 DPR servicemen, 1 civilian woman and 8 civilian men sustained injuries of various severities.
Within the period between 15 and 21 March 2019, 2 DPR servicemen died in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Within the period between 1 January and 21 March 2019, 33 persons, including 29 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 4762 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 1987 was detained in November 2018, now he is in custody of Mariupol SIZO.
Based on the updated figures as of 22.03.2019, 253 persons are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 98 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been confirmed. It was reported that three persons from the list had been released as they had served their sentences.
– 155 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 missing persons. A man born in 1973 has not been in contact with his family since December 2018.
As of 22 March 2019, 458 persons are considered missing. They might be held in Ukrainian captivity.
- 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.
On 20 March representatives of the DPR Ombudsman Office began distribution of humanitarian aid in the form of bed linen as part of cooperation with humanitarian organisations. Residents of six social objects in Donetsk received 802 of sets of bed linen.
In total, it is planned to deliver 1500 sets to citizens living in 23 social objects in the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
During the period of work between 16 and 22 March 2019, 14 persons have applied to the Ombudsman’s Office on the issues related to internally displaced persons. There are currently 1375 accommodation places in the Donetsk People’s Republic available for citizens affected by hostilities. Since the beginning of the conflict, 7165 persons, including 1770 children under the age of eighteen have been registered as persons affected as a result of the conflict. 75 social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) have been opened in the territory of DPR. 52 of them operate, 23 of them are held in reserve. Currently, 2424 individuals live in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) of the Donetsk Administration, including 456 underage children, 4741 persons live in the housing fund of the DPR, including 1314 children.
- Protection of children’s rights
The Human Rights Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic strongly promotes the rights and freedoms of children, as the most vulnerable category of citizens, who constantly need state support.
In the view to ensure effective protection of children’s rights and freedoms by the state, on 19 March representatives of the Ombudsman Office conducted an inspection of living conditions and educational process in a Dokuchaevst Special General Education Boarding School No.27. At the moment, 54 children in need of rehabilitation regarding their physical or mental development live there, including 7 children from the territory temporarily under control of Ukraine, who have been enrolled at the institution under the Humanitarian Programme for the Reunification of the Donbass People.
As a result of the inspection, education and living environment for children in the Dokuchaevsk Special General Education Boarding School No. 27 received a positive assessment from the staff of DPR Ombudsman Office.