The United Nations Organization, adopting the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has defined freedom from torture as absolute, not subject to any restrictions under any circumstances. Thus, Article 5 of the Declaration reads: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” This provision is also enshrined in Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of the United Nations. On 10 December 1984, the Convention against Torture was adopted, the main purpose of which was to make more effective the struggle against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment throughout the world. All this means that no exceptional circumstances, no matter what they are, whether a state of war or the threat of war, internal political instability or any other state of emergency and the order of a superior or state authority cannot justify torture.
The Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 on the treatment of prisoners of war regulates in the event of an armed conflict that is not of an international character and arises on the territory of one of the parties, an obligatory humane treatment of all detainees. Article 3 of this Convention bans violence of life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture, taking of hostages, outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
However, not all states are committed to international legal norms. In violation of the norms of the International Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War, representatives of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies continue to use torture against captured supporters of the Republic. And even now, in the era of humanism and democracy, torture is often used in Ukraine. Unfortunately, there is no respectful attitude towards prisoners in Ukraine, which has been repeatedly evidenced by people who have been in Ukrainian captivity. In violation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War and other international norms, officers of the Ukrainian special services repeatedly used illegal methods of interrogation against the detainees.
The UN quarterly human rights reports provide information based on interviewing civilians on the use of illegal methods of influence against detainees. Representatives of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights draw attention to the fact that impunity for violations and infringement of human rights in the territory of Donbass remains a serious problem. None of the members of the Ukrainian power structures, who committed crimes, were held accountable. This is due to the reluctance to investigate cases of human rights violations.
On May 28, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Nils Melzer arrived in Ukraine. On June 4, the representative of the UN Monitoring Mission arrived in the Donetsk People’s Republic and met with the Human Rights Ombudsman Daria Morozova. At the meeting, the use of illegal methods of interrogation against detained persons was discussed, as well as interviewing victims of torture, the work of DPR authorities on the observance of international standards of detention in penitentiary institutions, and access to places where detained persons are held. Daria Morozova told about the use of illegal methods of interrogation against almost 95 per cent of the persons held by the Ukrainian side.
The work of the humanitarian subgroup in Minsk, where evidence of the use of torture against persons released as a result of the exchange of December 27, 2017, was presented, was also discussed. The DPR Ombudsman also told about the refusal of the Ukrainian side to sign the Declaration condemning all forms of torture, ill-treatment, sexual violence and threats of violence against persons detained in connection with the conflict. Daria Morozova expressed concern over the refusal of the Ukrainian side to sign the document and suggested that the representatives of Kiev did not intend to stop the use of torture against persons held in the territory of Ukraine. The Ukrainian side has not found it possible even to sign Declaration condemning torture, there is a complete lack of political will even for this step.
On June 6, the staff of the Human Rights Ombudsman Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic, together with the UN Special Rapporteur Nils Melzer, members of the UN Working Group and representatives of the Geneva Office of the OSCHR visited the Donetsk remand prison of the State Penitentiary Service of the DPR Ministry of Justice. During the visit, UN representatives inspected the conditions of detention of detainees, as well as of persons serving a sentence in the Donetsk remand prison. Representatives of the Monitoring Mission discussed the provision of timely medical assistance in the conditions of remand prison with the medical staff of the penitentiary institution. Also, the UN Special Rapporteur and other staff of the Mission were given an opportunity to have individual conversations with Ukrainian servicemen, held in the said institution.
Despite the fact that the Donetsk People’s Republic is not a state recognized by the international community, all state institutions are established taking into account the norms of the international law.
The post of the Human Rights Ombudsman has been established in the Donetsk People’s Republic to ensure the state protection of citizens’ rights and freedoms, to prevent any form of discrimination regarding the exercise of their 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 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 2777 appeals. In the period of work between 2 and 8 June 2018, 3 persons visited the Ombudsman in person, 48 persons received counselling by the Appeals department, 20 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 8 persons received legal counselling. 5 written appeals were approved for consideration, 6 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 35 calls were received via hotlines, 7 applications were received via e-mail.
All appeals received can be divided into six categories: violations in criminal law – 172 appeals, violations in civil law– 218 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 5 appeals, social and humanitarian issues – 1329 appeals, issues connected with hostilities – 369 appeals, other issues – 684 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 08.06.2018
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 the 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 – 313 appeals, temporary accommodation – 420 appeals, issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 106 appeals, migration legislation issues – 220 appeals, labour legislation issues – 94 appeals, healthcare issues – 81 appeals, guardianship and family law issues – 32 appeals, issues of education, culture and sport – 16 appeals, activities of public associations, organizations and trade unions, religious organizations – 22 appeals, land use and tenure – 2 appeals, the rights of servicemen and law enforcement officials – 23 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 08.06.2018
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 08.06.2018
- 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 1 June, a civilian man at the age of 32 sustained a mine-blast trauma, multiple superficial wounds to the face and left thigh as a result of an explosion of a trip wire in Gorlovka.
As a result of shelling in Petrovskiy district of Donetsk by Ukrainian forces, a civilian man born in 1987 sustained gunshot wound to the lower third of the anterior surface of the right thigh.
On 6 June, as a result of hostilities in Bezymennoye village, Novoazovsk region, a DPR serviceman born in 1973 sustained blunt shrapnel wound to the upper-third of the left forearm.
A teenager born in 2002 sustained mine-blast trauma, multiple shrapnel wounds to the right hand as a result of careless handling of an explosive device in Yenakievo.
On 7 June as a result of hostilities in Kominternovo village, Novoazovsk region, a DPR serviceman at the age of 39 sustained mine-blast trauma, blunt shrapnel wound; a DPR serviceman at the age of 31 sustained shrapnel wound to the back.
Within the period between 1 and 7 June 2018, 6 persons sustained injuries in the territory of the DPR as a result of armed aggression of the Ukrainian side. Jf them, there were 3 DPR servicemen, 2 civilian men and a child born in 2002.
Within the period between January 1 and June 7, 2018, 154 persons sustained injuries of various severities in the territory of the DPR. Among them, there were 95 DPR servicemen, 38 civilian men, 19 civilian women and 2 underage children.
Within the period between 1 and 7 June 2018 – 3 DPR servicemen died in the territory of the DPR.
Within the period between January 1 and June 7, 2018, 77 persons died in the territory of the DPR, including 66 DPR servicemen, 7 civilian men and 4 civilian women.
To be specific, since the beginning of the armed conflict 4644 persons died. Among them, there are 610 women and 4034 men, including 76 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 08.06.2018, 294 persons are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 85 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been confirmed.
– 209 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 8 June 2018, 452 persons are considered missing. There is a possibility that they are held in Ukrainian captivity.
- Register of forcibly displaced persons.
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, Temporary Accommodation Centres (TACs) have been opened in the Donetsk People’s Republic. Any person can receive temporary accommodation there if they need it.
1219 IDPs now live in temporary accommodation centres of the Office, including 227 underage children. Since the beginning of the conflict 5380 referrals for temporary accommodation have been issued, 137 of them – in 2018. All the TACs are under the DPR Ombudsman’s inspection. The staff of the Office monitor the TACs on a weekly basis, with the view to respond promptly to the citizens’ needs. The Ombudsman makes every effort to improve social and living conditions for people who live in the TACs.
During the period of work between 2 and 8 June 2018, 20 persons have applied to the Ombudsman’s Office on the issues related to internally displaced persons. There are currently 1200 housing spots available for IDPs. Among them: 1200 – in DPR Temporary Accommodation Centres (including TACs of Ombudsman`s Office); 289 – in TACs of the Ombudsman`s Office.
It is necessary to remind that there are 7510 persons, including 1866 children under the age of eighteen registered since the beginning of the conflict. 63 temporary accommodation centres have been established within the territory of DPR. 55 of these TACs operate, 8 of them are held in reserve. The Ombudsman Office is in charge of 11 TACs.
Currently, 1470 individuals live in the centres, including 282 underage children, 4821 persons live in the housing fund of the DPR, including 1357 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, 24.9 thousands of vacancies were available in the common database as of 8.06.2018. As of 1 June 2018, there were 23.5 thousand individuals who seek for a job, registered in the Republic Employment Centres. Among them: 17.4 thousand have been employed (9.7 of them – on permanent positions, 7.7 – 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. 103 persons participated in such seminars.