The situation with human rights in Ukraine needs improvement, as stated in the UN report on the human rights situation in Ukraine over the period from 16 November 2019 to 15 February 2020.
It contains a number of issues concerning Donbas conflict while Volodymyr Zelensky’s presidency, and the tortures, which continue despite the change of the leaders of the Security Service and statements of the Ukrainian authorities.
Besides, the report includes the data about the violation of the language rights of the national minorities, as well as the attacks of the far-right groups on the journalists.
Moreover, the situation with human rights in Crimea annexed by Russia is also mentioned and considered.
The UN also mentioned the high-profile cases investigated in Ukraine.
“Human rights violations within the administration of justice in conflict-related criminal cases continued. Impunity also remained pervasive, notably in cases related to the conflict, the violent deaths and killings at Maidan and in Odesa on 2 May 2014, and attacks on human rights defenders, activists and media workers. By contrast, National Police apprehended three suspects in the 2016 killing of journalist Pavel Sheremet”.
Violation of rights of Donbas citizens
Firstly, the UN underlines the holding of obligatory verification for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and that it hinders people to use the right for their social protection.
“This has caused hundreds of thousands of pensioners to lose their pension payments,” the report says. It is also stressed out that the biggest part of the affected IDPs is women as they make the majority of the IDPs.
Besides, violations of the housing, land and property rights are spotted.
“Residents of Government-controlled Avdiivka, Krasnohorivka, Marinka and Novotroitske (all in Donetsk region) informed OHCHR that their housing was being used by the military without compensation, and that some continued to receive utility bills generated by the military,” the report says.
The UN also notes the lack of investigation of the cases of the looting of civilians’ property. Besides, the offenses are committed not only militants but also by law enforcers.
The militants also do not recognize the Ukrainian documents of the local citizens as official and force them to proceed to the so-called ‘police stations’ for identification. The locals who have Ukrainian license plates also face the violation of their rights as they are forced to pay fines for it.
In 2019, 167 casualties were spotted by OHCHR: 27 people were killed and 140 were injured. It is 40.6% less than in 2018 and the lowest rate since the beginning of the conflict. 105 casualties were caused by shelling.
“Of them: 85 (five killed and 80 injured; 81 per cent) were recorded in territory controlled by the self-proclaimed ‘republics’, 18 (three killed and 15 injured; 17.1 per cent) in Government-controlled territory, and two (both injuries) in ‘no man’s land,” the report says.
The total amount of victims fro April 14, 2014, until February 15, 2020, is 3,052 people. Considering those who perished at MH17 crash, at least 3,350 deaths can be spotted. Over 7,000 civilians sustained injuries during this period of time.
Tortures and violence
The UN mission underlines that the majority of released prisoners suffered from tortures on both sides.
“Fifty-seven of these individuals (the exchanged 75 people, - 112.international) had earlier reported having been subjected to torture or ill-treatment, including in some cases sexual violence, perpetrated mainly by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU),” the message says.
“Such methods of torture and ill-treatment were used: beatings, asphyxiation (dry and wet), electric shocks, sexual violence (such as forced nudity and violence to the genitals), positional torture, water, food, sleep or toilet deprivation, isolation, mock executions, prolonged use of handcuffs, hooding, and threats of further torture, sexual violence, death or harm to family,” the UN wrote.
Another issue is the exchange of non-sentenced people - those considered innocent. Besides, the authorities of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics block the access of the UN to the prisoners kept there.
Far-right groups and freedom of speech
The UN notes that the attacks on the media and journalists held by far-right activists continue in Ukraine. In 2019, four physical attacks against media workers were spotted. Besides, the UN criticizes the law on disinformation, which was put out of the consideration.
Concerning occupied Donbas, the UN observed lack of media coverage critical of or deviating from the perspectives of the ‘authorities.
Language and minorities
Ukraine did not fulfill the demands of the Venice Commission and did not develop extra mechanisms to protect the rights of the national minorities and indigenous peoples.
It is also stated that the Ukrainian parliament adopted the law on general secondary education which states that indigenous and minority languages may be taught as a subject and they can be used as the medium of instruction for other subjects throughout secondary education in public schools, but not fully.
“The legislation provides insufficient guarantees for the protection and use of minority languages in the absence of a law on the realization of the rights of indigenous peoples and national minorities,” the conclusion says.