Read the original article at radiosvoboda.org
The war in Donbas has brought to Ukraine an unprecedented since the Second World War grief. Today, nearly two million Ukrainians are forced to seek new homes, thousands over the past 2.5 years died as a result of armed conflict, but only hundreds officially recognized as missing. It’s hard to believe that in the democratic European country behind the scenes of hostilities are happening horrible, bloody crimes, and their perpetrators are still free.
As part of the coalition "Justice for Peace in Donbas" human rights NGO "Peaceful Coast" since the beginning of 2016 gathered information about the crimes of extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, tortures, arbitrary detentions that occurred during the war. In the process of monitoring the human rights organization representatives traveled 56 times to Donbas to visit former prisoners of illegal armed groups DNR and LNR. After all, these people during their stay in captivity witnessed enforced disappearances, tortures and extrajudicial executions. After analyzing the information gathered, human rights activists have come to certain conclusions.
According to the NGO "Peaceful Coast" report, most cases of tortures and cruel and illegal military killings of civilians occurred in the armed conflicts in Izvaryn, Ilovaisk, Debaltseve areas and fighting in the Donetsk and Luhansk airports.
There is a category of prisoners and hostages, who are mostly at risk of becoming victims of executions or tortures. These are especially snipers, representatives of the "Right Sector" and the military, who in captivity could not hide their pro-Ukrainian views. Among the latter - those who had a tattoo of national or state symbols.
Militants cut off the hand of Vasyl Pelysh because of tattoo with the words "Glory to Ukraine"
As for the risk of civilian population, the reasons for the abuse and murder were as a rule, religion and language of communication. Here, as in the case of the military, the reason for the shooting could be the place of registration outside the temporarily occupied territories (and especially - in Western Ukraine) and affiliation with political parties or social movements.
Now human rights defenders of the "Justice for Peace in Donbas" Coalition know the following statistics:
More than 6,000 victims of the conflict;
More than 3,000 dead;
More than 13,000 people who survived captivity
More than 270 hostages;
Nearly 600 missing;
Aware of 51 cases of executions in captivity (46 men and 5 women, 29 military and 22 civilians)
The information gathered can contribute to establishing the truth about the tragic events when due to military command mistakes Ukrainian troops suffered significant losses. For example, the human rights activists unveiled 175 persons participated in hostilities on September 5, 2014. Of this number, 39 people were killed, including four killed and one murdered in captivity. 21 people are missing.
Monitoring results also registered cases of human rights violations by Ukrainian troops and fighters of volunteer battalions. Yes, we know about their illegal actions against members of illegal armed groups and civilians.
Based on data gathered, human rights activists plan to create analytical material and present it to the national law enforcement authorities and international organizations. Representatives of the NGO "Peaceful Coast" hope that the information collected will be useful for investigating crimes and finding missing persons, as well as serve as evidence base for such crimes in international courts in the future.
During the monitoring human rights activists have also found that certain areas of national legislation and were not adapted to the realities of war.
Some databases on missing persons are under control of multiple law enforcement agencies. Thus each of them has its own powers, methods, tools for accounting and search of victims. The result is confusion, when a relative of the missing in one department finds that the wanted person is a prisoner, and in another - that place of his residence is not known.
In addition, human rights activists emphasize, the procedure of search the missing persons is too bureaucratic. It ignores current realities of conflict and is adapted only to peaceful life.
Under current law, mother, father, wife, husband and children of missing person could be recognized
as victims. Instead, usually only one of the family members noted as a victim in a criminal case, so statistics on this issue is much understated.
NGO "Peaceful Coast" continues to collect information on military and civilian, missing persons, among other ways - through the form on the website of the organization. The ultimate goal of human rights activists is the fight against impunity - punishing perpetrators of enforced disappearances, tortures and extrajudicial executions. It is important also to strengthen law enforcement officers’ responsibility for omissions, negligence and lack of investigation of crimes.
The coalition of NGOs and initiatives "Justice for Peace in Donbas" seeking information on cases of serious human rights violations committed during the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Each received evidence increases the chances that the perpetrators would be brought to justice.