Last week, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published the 22nd Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine (February 16 to May 15, 2018).
Despite the fact that the document not as long as all the previous ones, the authors paid attention to the violation of human rights due to the conduct of military operations in the territory of Donbass. Apart from violation of the rights to life and personal security, attention was paid to the observance of the social rights of the inhabitants of the region, namely, the receipt of pension and other social benefits. The Document states that the OHCHR welcomes the decision of the Supreme Court as of May 3 2018, to recognize the illegality of termination of payments to internally displaced persons and to recognize such acts as an unlawful interference with the property rights of an applicant.
However, the authors of the Report paid much attention to the observance of human rights in the territory not affected by military actions. It is noteworthy that the absence of war does not mean at all that all the rights and freedoms of citizens are respected in the territory of Ukraine.
One of the issues that the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner are concerned about is the intensification of intolerance, including threats of violence on the part of extreme right-wing groups. The report details the illegal actions of radical groups, such as “C14” and “National Corps”, which assume the role of law enforcement agencies of Ukraine. Thus, in early March, outside Kiev, the “C 14″ members detained a man whose name had been registered on the website called Myrotvorets (Peacemaker), handcuffed and put him face down, interrogated, and then transferred to the Security Service of Ukraine. Realizing their impunity, representatives of radical groups film their illegal actions and then upload those videos on social networks. As it was highlighted in the Report, members of these two radical organizations have recently appeared in reports on pogroms and arsons in settlements where gypsies live.
In the section of recommendations, the authors of the Report recommended to the Ukrainian authorities the following: ” State and local authorities to systematically and publicly condemn acts of violence committed based on race, sex, religion, language, national or ethnic origin, political or social opinion, sexual orientation, gender 29 identity, or place of residence or any other grounds of discrimination prohibited under international human rights standards; Office of the Prosecutor General and law enforcement agencies to ensure that such crimes are appropriately classified, that they are effectively and timely investigated, and that perpetrators – in particular members of extreme right-wing groups – are held accountable.” It is noteworthy that one of the causes of the military operations in the territory of Donbass was the intolerance towards its Russian-speaking population and its political views. Then, in 2014, a full-scale combat operation involving aviation was launched against the inhabitants of the huge industrial region. Then radical nationalist battalions considered themselves to be the true justice. Four years later, nothing has changed in the territory of Ukraine, the discrimination of citizens continues, as well as the punishment for non-compliance with the “standards” of the so-called “titular nation”. People are still persecuted, burned, as it was in the House of Trade Unions. So far, those nationalists have not been held responsible.
OHCHR notes the lack of progress in the criminal investigation against the Myrotvorets (Peacemaker) website, which publishes the personal data of individuals, thereby violating their right to privacy and personal data protection. Based on materials that are publicly available on the website, citizens are accused of terrorist activities and use this data as the only reason for detention. Personal data of citizens (with scanned copies of passports) are published not only on the Myrotvorets, but also on other similar resources.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights observed an increase in the number of cases of encroachment on fundamental rights and freedoms in Ukraine, namely the freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of the media and peaceful assembly. From February to May 2018, 12 cases of attacks against journalists were documented. At the same time, the document noted that the perpetrators are mostly policemen and radicals. The report specified that “in two incidents, the police were named as perpetrators”; in three incidents – members of extreme right-wing groups; and in six other cases where the perpetrators were not identified, the victims were journalists who were investigating allegations of corruption.
In addition, the UN drew attention to the lack of progress in the investigation into the cases of murder of journalists and other cases that led to many victims.
In general, according to the UN Report, the human rights situation in Ukraine has not improved. Serious human rights violations, a threat to freedom of speech and expression, and impunity are systemic problems in Ukraine, especially in cases where extreme right-wing groups and movements are involved.
At the same time, the Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations holds the Ukrainian authorities fully responsible for the observance of human rights. ” The Government of Ukraine must address issues related to accountability, the rights of conflict-affected population and nondiscrimination, to avoid further deepening the divide and making peace and future reconciliation increasingly challenging,” the Report says.
In the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Ombudsman Office is responsible for observance of the rights and freedoms. So, the one can file the 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 3071 appeals. In the period of work between 23 and 29 June 2018, 9 persons visited the Ombudsman in person, 38 persons received counselling by the Appeals department, 5 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 13 persons received legal counselling. 5 written appeals were approved for consideration, 6 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 22 calls were received via hotlines, 11 applications were received via e-mail.
All appeals received can be divided into six categories: violations in criminal law – 208 appeals, violations in civil law– 240 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 5 appeals, social and humanitarian issues – 1463 appeals, issues connected with hostilities – 397 appeals, other issues – 758 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 29.06.2018
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 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 – 348 appeals, temporary accommodation – 439 appeals, issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 128 appeals, migration legislation issues – 247 appeals, labour legislation issues – 103 appeals, healthcare issues – 91 appeals, guardianship and family law issues – 37 appeals, issues of education, culture and sport – 17 appeals, activities of public associations, organizations and trade unions, religious organizations – 23 appeals, land use and tenure – 3 appeals, the rights of servicemen and law enforcement officials – 27 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 29.06.2018
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 29.06.2018
- 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 June 23, as a result of shelling in Dokuchaevsk by Ukrainian forces, a civilian woman born in 1942 sustained shrapnel wound of the scalp in the nape of the neck.
As a result of shelling in Petrovskiy district of Donetsk, a civilian man born in 1971 sustained gunshot shrapnel wound to the left shoulder with an impaled object (a bullet), a displaced fracture of the middle-third of the left shoulder.
On 24 June, as a result of shelling in Sakhanka village, Novoazovsk region, a civilian man born in 1968 sustained multiple shrapnel wounds to the face and upper limbs.
As a result of shelling in Novoazovsk region, three DPR servicemen were wounded.
On 27 June, another two DPR servicemen were wounded during the hostilities in Novoazovsk region.
Within the period between 22 and 28 June 2018, 8 persons sustained injuries in the territory of the DPR as a result of armed aggression of the Ukrainian side. Of them, there were 5 DPR servicemen, 2 civilian men and 1 civilian woman.
Within the period between January 1 and June 28, 2018, 187 persons sustained injuries of various severities in the territory of the DPR. Among them, there were 110 DPR servicemen, 51 civilian men, 24 civilian women and 2 underage children.
Within the period between 22 and 28 June 2018 – 2 DPR servicemen died in the territory of the DPR.
Within the period between January 1 and June 28, 2018, 86 persons died in the territory of the DPR, including 75 DPR servicemen, 7 civilian men and 4 civilian women.
To be specific, since the beginning of the armed conflict 4653 persons died. Among them, there are 610 women and 4043 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, a regular meeting took place in the Minsk format. However, the Ukrainian delegates did not attend the meeting of the humanitarian subgroup again, so a number of issues couldn’t be resolved, and they won’t be at least until the next meeting, which will be held in a month.
“Due to the indifference of the Ukrainian side, many questions cannot be resolved. I would like to note that we do not understand how we can move forward, and we are really disappointed. We had great hopes for the today’s meeting because the following one is scheduled for 25 July, almost a month from now. I would like to add that the Ukrainian side did not provide any written response,” said Daria Morozova.
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 29.06.2018, 280 persons are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 85 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been confirmed.
– 195 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 29 June 2018, 471 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.
1159 IDPs now live in temporary accommodation centres of the Office, including 210 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 23 and 29 June 2018, 5 persons have applied to the Ombudsman’s Office on the issues related to internally displaced persons. There are currently 1254 housing spots available for IDPs. Among them: 1254 – in DPR Temporary Accommodation Centres (including TACs of Ombudsman`s Office); 349 – in TACs of the Ombudsman`s Office.
It is necessary to remind that there are 7415 persons, including 1846 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, 1475 individuals live in the centres, including 284 underage children, 4781 persons live in the housing fund of the DPR, including 1352 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, 26.9 thousands of vacancies were available in the common database as of 29.06.2018. As of 29 June 2018, there were 25.5 thousand individuals who seek for a job, registered in the Republic Employment Centres. Among them: 18.9 thousand have been employed (10.9 of them – on permanent positions, 8.0 – 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. 111 persons participated in such seminars.