Monday, 24 November 2014

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Intimidation and fear in eastern Ukraine

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19 June 2014 - High Commissioner Navi Pillay has urged all Ukrainian armed groups to put down their weapons, end the violence and begin the process of long-term reconciliation following the report of UN monitors that armed separatists have used killings, abductions and torture to instill a “climate of intimidation and fear” in eastern Ukraine.

As her Office (OHCHR) released its third report on the human rights situation in Ukraine, High Commissioner Navi Pillay called on armed groups operating in Donetsk and Luhansk to “stop taking themselves, and the people living in their regions, down this dead end, which is leading simply to misery, destruction, displacement and economic deprivation.”

The 58-page report, covering the period from 7 May to 7 June, is the third to be produced by the 34-strong UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission, since it was deployed by the High Commissioner three months ago in the wake of protests that lead to, among other things, the removal from office of Ukraine’s former President, and a referendum in the Crimea region in which the majority of the people voted in favour of secession from Ukraine.

“The escalation in criminal activity resulting in human rights abuses is no longer limited to targeting journalists, elected representatives, local politicians, civil servants and civil society activists,” the report states. “Abductions, detentions, acts of ill-treatment and torture, and killings by armed groups are now affecting the broader population of the two eastern regions, which are now marked by an atmosphere of intimidation and consequent fear.”

“So we have major reason to be concerned,” Ivan Šimonović, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, told the UN News Centre. “What is clear is who’s paying the price – the situation of citizens in the east of the country has been deteriorating whether they are pro-Ukrainian or pro-Russian.”

Painting a grim picture of the situation, he cited deterioration of social services such as electricity and water, and echoed the report’s concern that a deeper humanitarian crisis may ensue if law and order is not restored to the region.

Ms. Pillay urged the Government to “exercise restraint, ensure that security operations are in line with international standards at all times, and take great care to protect civilians when engaging with armed groups.”

UNRIC's related links:

UNRIC's Library backgrounder on Ukraine

UNRIC's article on Incitement to hatred in Ukraine
UNRIC's article on Solution to Ukraine crisis
UNRIC's article on necessity of non-violence and compromise in Ukraine

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