The DPR Human Rights Ombudsman Daria Morozova commented on the anniversary of the signing of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements and the effectiveness of the document for a peaceful settlement in Donbass.
“Last year, at the Humanitarian Subgroup meetings we focused our efforts on closure of criminal cases against persons released as a result of the exchange of 27 December 2017, returning identity documents and medical records to them. Ukrainian plenipotentiaries had been absent from the meetings for a long time, which did not allow for comprehensive discussion of any of the issues on the agenda. Unfortunately, in 2018 we couldn’t reach agreement on the second stage of the exchange under formula “all confirmed for all confirmed”, as the Ukrainian side used to wreck negotiations all the time. The question of searching for missing persons was also relevant since the lack of information about the fate of relatives and loved ones equates to the use of torture in international law. At each meeting in Minsk, we remind Ukrainian representatives about the need to continue close cooperation. Indeed, all issues under discussion are vital for people, who hope that their problem will be addressed,” said the Ombudsman.
Another focus of discussion, according to Ms. Morozova, was the use of unlawful methods of questioning of detainees.
“We informed the attendees of the Humanitarian Subgroup meeting about cases of ill-treatment of persons in custody of Ukrainian penitentiary institutions. Then, Coordinator Tony Frisch proposed to sign a Declaration condemning all forms of torture, ill-treatment, sexual violence and threats of violence against persons detained in connection with the conflict. The Ukrainian side, however, has so far refused to sign this instrument,” she added.
The Humanitarian Subgroup has reached agreement on the transfer of persons convicted before the conflict who expressed a desire to serve their sentences in the territory of Ukraine. “In 2018, we held transfers of convicts twice (total – 33 persons). Since the beginning of the conflict, the DPR handed over 199 pre-conflict prisoners. I would like to note that this process is a unilateral humanitarian initiative of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” said Ms. Morozova.
Finally, the Ombudsman stressed that it has been possible to reduce the number of victims of the conflict thanks to the Minsk agreements: “As compared to 2014, the number of civilian casualties reduced 14 times. At the moment, there are no alternatives to the Minsk agreements. Accordingly, we sincerely hope that 2019 will be fruitful and that we will manage to implement it fully through cooperation with the Ukrainian side. For our part, we reiterate the openness of the Donetsk People’s Republic and our willingness to start a peaceful dialogue aimed at settlement of the conflict in Donbass.”