International humanitarian law represents international rules of conventional or customary law aimed at resolving humanitarian issues arising directly from armed conflicts, internal or international, that limit, for reasons of humanity, the belligerent rights to choose methods and means of warfare or protects persons and property affected or that may be affected by military actions, and also establishes the responsibility of states and individuals for violating these norms.
The main legal acts of the International Humanitarian Law are four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the 2 Additional Protocols to them of 1977 that define special principles and norms aimed at regulating the means and methods of warfare.
Means of warfare are weapons and other military equipment used by the armed forces of the belligerents to destroy the enemy’s manpower and material resources, suppressing its forces and the ability to resist.
Methods of warfare imply the order, all possible ways of using the means of warfare for particular purposes. The means and methods of warfare are divided into prohibited and unprohibited ones, regulated by the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 relating to the protection of victims of non-international conflicts (Protocol II).
Under the provisions of international humanitarian law, restrictions imposed on belligerents in the choice of means of injuring the enemy. It is prohibited to employ weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering, according to Paragraph 2 of Art. 35 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 1949
The international legal regulation of warfare is aimed at deterrence of the parties to the conflict from senseless violence and is also designed to protect those affected by war. Violations of these norms with criminal intent or with criminal negligence are recognized as war crimes, namely:
– It is prohibited to use means and methods of warfare that are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering or make one’s death inevitable;
– it is prohibited to use means and methods of warfare that are of a nature to cause or, as expected, will cause extensive, long-term and serious damage to the natural environment;
– the responsibility of the parties to the conflict to distinguish at all times between civilians or other protected persons, on the one hand, and combatants on the other hand, and between civilian or other objects of protection and military objects;
– the principle of protection of victims, providing special protection for women and children, as the most vulnerable part of the population;
– the principle of responsibility of states and individuals for violating the laws and customs of war.
In the framework of international legal measures to prohibit certain means of warfare, it is necessary to note the fact of the elaboration of the 2008 Convention on cluster munitions, which establishes an absolute prohibition on the use of cluster weapons.
Article 25 of the Fourth Hague Convention of 1907 prohibits attacks or bombardment in any way unprotected cities, villages, dwellings or buildings.
Four years ago, grossly violating the norms of the international humanitarian law, the Ukrainian army, using combat aircraft, heavy weapons and indiscriminate weapons, carried out massive attacks against the settlements of the Republic. As a result, there were civilian casualties, damaged houses and civil infrastructure objects that were not military targets.
On August 13, 2014, a pilot of the Armed Forces of Ukraine dropped cluster munitions on the peaceful city of Zugres. As a result of this bombardment, 19 people were killed, including 3 small children, 40 civilians were injured. As a result of the air strike, the Zuevka Experimental Station was damaged, where the road transport shop caught fire. Civilians died near the school No.10 and the city stadium. The largest number of victims was recorded on the city beach for children, which was citizens’ favourite place to rest.
The right to life is an inalienable right of every person, guaranteed by law. It implies that no one can be intentionally deprived of life. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
In the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Ombudsman Office is responsible for observance of the rights and freedoms. So, one can file a complaint with the Ombudsman or make an appointment for a personal reception if his\her rights have been violated.
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.
Since the beginning of 2018, the Ombudsman received 3761 complaints. In the period of work between 11 and 17 August 2018, 7 persons visited the Ombudsman in person, 43 persons received counselling by the Appeals department, 8 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 15 persons received legal counselling. 5 written appeals were approved for consideration, 8 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 28 calls were received via hotlines, 5 applications were received via e-mail.
All appeals received can be divided into six categories: violations in criminal law – 284 appeals, violations in civil law– 280 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 5 appeals, social and humanitarian issues – 1816 appeals, issues connected with hostilities – 474 appeals, other issues – 902 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 17.08.2018
Violations in criminal law
Issues of social and humanitarian affairs
Violations in civil law
issues connected with hostilities
Administrative and legal violations against citizens
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 – 450 appeals, temporary accommodation – 504 appeals, issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 168 appeals, migration legislation issues – 313 appeals, labour legislation issues – 141 appeals, healthcare issues – 106 appeals, guardianship and family law issues – 48 appeals, issues of education, culture and sport – 21 appeals, activities of public associations, organizations and trade unions, religious organizations – 24 appeals, land use and tenure – 10 appeals, the rights of servicemen and law enforcement officials – 31 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 17.08.2018
pension and social payments, benefits, disability, humanitarian aid
migration legislation issues
guardianship and family law issues
labour legislation issues
issues of education, culture and sport
issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services
activities of public associations, organizations and trade unions, religious organizations
land use and tenure
the rights of servicemen and law enforcement officials
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 17.08.2018
- Estimates of mortality, wounds 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, to inviolability of the home.
On 12 August, as a result of military operations in Bezimennoye village, Novoazovsk region, two DPR servicemen born in 1992 and 1987 sustained shrapnel wounds.
On 14 August, as a result of shelling in Kominternovo village, Novoazovsk region, by Ukrainian forces, a civilian woman born in 1959 sustained blunt shrapnel wound of the right chest cavity.
On 15 August, as a result of military operations in Bezimennoye village, Novoazovsk region, a DPR serviceman born in 1981 sustained perforating bullet wound of the right shoulder joint.
On 16 August as a result of shelling against Octyabr village, Novoazovsk region, a DPR serviceman born in 1990 sustained shrapnel wound of the scalp.
Within the period between 10 and 16 August 2018, 5 persons sustained injuries in the territory of the DPR as a result of armed aggression of the Ukrainian side. Among them, there are 4 DPR servicemen and 1 civilian woman.
Within the period between 1 January and 16 August 2018, 222 persons sustained injuries of various severities in the territory of the DPR. Among them, there were 138 DPR servicemen, 53 civilian men, 29 civilian women and 2 underage children.
Within the period between 10 and 16 August 2018 – neither civilian nor military personnel deaths have been reported in the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Within the period between 1 January and 16 August 2018, 106 persons died in the territory of the DPR, including 8 women and 98 men, including 2 underage children.
To be specific, since the beginning of the armed conflict 4673 persons died. Among them, there are 613 women and 4060 men, including 78 children under eighteen.
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 didn’t receive any appeals on arrest.
Based on the updated figures as of 17.08.2018, 280 persons are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 82 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been confirmed.
– 198 persons whose whereabouts are unknown or are being clarified by the Ukrainian side.
This week the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic didn’t receive any appeals on missing persons.
As of 17 August 2018, 473 persons are considered missing. There is a possibility that they are held in Ukrainian captivity.
- Register of displaced persons and affected citizens.
At the time of the 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 authorities in cities and districts are now responsible for accommodating affected civilians. Social housing objects, which used to carry out activities under the patronage of the Ombudsman Office, are authorized to supervise the authorities.
During the period of work between 11 and 17 August 2018, 8 persons have applied to the Ombudsman’s Office on the issues related to internally displaced persons. There are currently 1250 accommodation places available for IDPs in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
It is necessary to remind that there are 7416 persons, including 1790 children under the age of eighteen registered since the beginning 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 (according to the information provided by Territorial commissions of cities and districts, the number of housing objects held in reserve was changed). Currently, 2627 individuals live in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) of the Donetsk Administration, including 491 underage children, 4789 persons live in the housing fund of the DPR, including 1299 children under eighteen.
- Employment of DPR citizens
The Republican Employment Centre is the main institution responsible for providing jobs to the population.
According to their data, 33.2 thousands of vacancies were available in the common database as of 17.08.2018. As of 17 August 2018, there were 30.8 thousand individuals who seek for a job, registered in the Republic Employment Centres. Among them: 23.4 thousand have been employed (14.6 of them – on permanent positions, 8.8 – temporarily).
Donetsk Centre of Vocational Education of The Republic Employment Centre organises regular free public workshops to train practical skills, such as work with personal computers; technique and mechanization of trade accounts (work with cash register machines); the program “1C: Accounting 8.2.”; fundamentals of entrepreneurship; processing and decoration of textile and clothing products etc. 162 persons participated in such seminars.