April 11 is celebrated worldwide as the International Day of Liberation of Prisoners of Fascist Concentration Camps, established in memory of the international resistance uprising in the Buchenwald concentration camp, which took place on April 11, 1945.
During the World War II, there were 14,000 concentration camps, death camps and prisons in Nazi Germany, its allies’ territory and in the occupied countries, where more than 20 million people from 30 countries were held, including 5 million citizens of the Soviet Union. About 12 million people have not survived until liberation, among them about 2 million children.
The prisoners were burned alive in the crematorium furnaces, poisoned in gas chambers, tortured, raped, starved, forced to undergo medical experiments while they had to work beyond the brink of exhaustion.
In 1945, fascism was defeated by the joint efforts of the world community. All nations of the world were confident that the misanthropic ideology would never return. However, it did. After the 2014 coup d’état in Ukraine, nationalism was elevated to the rank of official ideology and acquired a radical nature. Evidence of this was the increased persecution on political, ethnic, religious and other grounds. The armed conflict, which has been continuing since 2014 in the territory of Donbass, has demonstrated the intolerance of the Ukrainian authorities towards dissent. Unlawful detention, threats and acts of violence – to name but a few forms of struggle with dissent.
In violation of the international humanitarian law, many people held in the territory of Ukraine are subject to unlawful methods of questioning. Citizens released from Ukrainian captivity had suffered from it. They all undergone medical examinations when returned to the territory of the DPR, which has revealed that about 95 per cent of them were tortured. In addition, cases of forced abduction and detention of people in secret prisons, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment, sexual violence are widespread in Ukraine. The existence of secret prisons of the Security Service of Ukraine is also confirmed by numerous testimonies of supporters of the Donetsk People’s Republic, who returned to the DPR from Ukrainian captivity.
Examples of arbitrariness and violence against persons held in Ukraine are the cases of Yulia Prosolova, Daria Mastikasheva, Alexandra Valko, Vitaly Osinsky and Valery Ivanov. The latter was tortured and killed in Drohobych correctional colony No. 40.
The issue of inadmissibility of the use of any form of violence against prisoners of war is on the agenda of the Humanitarian Subgroup of the Trilateral Contact Group on the peaceful resolution in Donbass. Representatives of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Coordinator of the Humanitarian Subgroup, OSCE Ambassador Tony Frisch, call on the Ukrainian side to sign a Declaration Condemning all Forms of Torture, iIl-treatment, Sexual Violence and Threats of Violence Against Persons Detained in Connection with the Conflict. The official Kiev is reluctant to sign the document, demonstrating the lack of willingness to stop this unacceptable practice used in the territory of Ukraine.
Following his visit to penitentiary institutions of Donetsk People’s Republic last week, Tony Frisch said that the DPR authorities treated Ukrainian POWs correctly. He also noted that he had no reason to assume that torture or other unlawful methods of questioning were used against detainees. At the same time, the OSCE representative said that he was not allowed to three penitentiary institutions in the territory controlled by the government of Ukraine.
It is extremely important to prevent the events connected with fascist concentration camps from reoccurrence. To this end, the Human Rights Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic pays special attention to monitoring the observance of the rights of persons held on the territory of Ukraine, preventing abductions, arbitrary detentions, torture and other offences by representatives of law enforcement agencies and armed formations of Ukraine.
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 10 April, staff of the DPR Ombudsman Office conducted an on-site reception of citizens in Novoazovsk region.
Five citizens attended the reception in order to get assistance counselling. They were provided with detailed explanations of the norms of the current legislation.
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 1842 complaints. In the period of work between 4 and 12 April 2019, 5 citizens attended personal reception of the Ombudsman, 29 persons received counselling by the Appeals department, 7 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 13 persons received legal counselling, and 6 persons through on-site reception. 14 written appeals were approved for consideration, 19 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 37 calls were received via hotlines, 16 applications were received via e-mail.
All appeals received can be divided into nine categories: violations in criminal law – 147 appeals, violations in civil law – 198 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 20 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of judiciary – 54 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of law-enforcement authorities and servicemen – 112 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of government officials – 65, social, humanitarian and economic issues – 677 appeals, issues connected with hostilities – 418 appeals, other issues – 151 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 12.04.2019
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 – 264 appeals; transportation, communication and consumer rights – 33 appeals; issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 128 appeals, migration legislation issues – 138 appeals, labour legislation issues – 48 appeals, healthcare issues – 63 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 12.04.2019
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 12.04.2019
- 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 April as a result of shelling in Petrovsky district of Donetsk, a civilian man born in 1963 sustained shrapnel wounds to the upper limb, abdominal and a chest.
As a result of hostilities in Debaltsevo region, two DPR servicemen born in 1977 and 1960 sustained mine-blast traumas and multiple shrapnel wounds.
On 8 April, as a result of shelling in Staromikhailovka village, a civilian woman born in 1940 sustained multiple comminuted fractures with impaled objects.
As a result of shelling in Zaitsevo village, a civilian woman born in 1982 sustained injuries to the lower limbs.
As a result of hostilities in Novoazovsk region, three servicemen born in 1997, 1999 and 1984 sustained wounds of varying severities.
On 9 April, as a result of shelling in Trudovskie village near Donetsk, a DPR serviceman of 44 years old sustained shrapnel wounds.
Within the period between 5 and 11 April 2019, 9 persons received injuries as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine in the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic, including 6 DPR servicemen, 2 civilian women and 1 civilian man.
Within the period between 1 January and 11 April 2019, 50 persons, including 35 DPR servicemen, 4 civilian women and 11 civilian men sustained injuries of various severities.
Within the period between 5 and 11 April 2019, 4 DPR servicemen died in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Within the period between 1 January and 11 April 2019, 46 persons, including 42 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 4775 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 hasn’t received any appeals on arrest.
Based on the updated figures as of 12.04.2019, 253 persons are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 98 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been confirmed.
– 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 hasn’t received any appeals on missing persons.
As of 12 April 2019, 460 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 6 and 12 April 2019, 7 persons have applied to the Ombudsman’s Office on the issues related to internally displaced persons. There are currently 1308 accommodation places in the Donetsk People’s Republic available for citizens affected by hostilities. Since the beginning of the conflict, 7160 persons, including 1741 children 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, 2401 persons live in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) of the Donetsk Administration, including 448 underage children, 4759 persons live in the housing fund of the DPR, including 1293 children.
- Monitoring of the observance of the rights of vulnerable groups of the population
Observance of the rights and freedoms of vulnerable groups of the population is guaranteed by international legislation, such as the Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter, and is also regulated by the legislation 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 9 April representatives of the Ombudsman Office conducted an inspection of living conditions and social support for vulnerable categories of citizens in the in-patient department for permanent or temporary residence of the Regional Social Service Centre of the Administration of Shakhtyorsk, which is located in Dmitrovka village, Shakhtyorsk region.
At the moment, 15 physically challenged citizens of advanced age in need of constant care live in the Centre.
As a result of the inspection, representatives of the Human Rights Ombudsman Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic revealed several unsatisfactory features to be dealt with. The staff of the Ombudsman Office is going to visit the institution again.
On 11 April, staff of the Human Rights Ombudsman Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic visited Torez psycho-neurological boarding house, where they conducted an inspection of living conditions, social services and the provision of medical care to people with disabilities who need nursing care. Currently, 149 women over the age of 18 live in the institution.
Medical personnel look after patients 24 hours. They provide psychiatric care and counselling. Also, medical treatment and preventive measures are carried out, including individual and group classes in aromatherapy, sand therapy and other activities.
As a result of the inspection, education and living environment for children in the Torez psycho-neurological boarding house received a positive assessment from the staff of DPR Ombudsman Office.