On 22 March under Item 10 of the agenda of the 34th HRC session "Technical assistance and capacity building" the 17th OHCHR report on the human rights situation in Ukraine was presented with the ensuing discussion in the interactive dialogue format. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergiy Kyslytsya took part in the dialogue from the Ukrainian side.
Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Sergiy Kyslytsya in his speech during the interactive dialogue drew attention to the recent violations of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine by Russia, in particular, to the recognition of the documents of the self-proclaimed «DNR» and «LNR» by Russia. Hiding behind the rhetoric of human rights protection and humanitarian purposes, the Kremlin has put itself over the international law.
The Ukrainian diplomat emphasized the need of full implementation by the Russian Federation of the Minsk agreements, as well as the UN General Assembly resolution 71/205 "Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)". The international human rights mechanisms should be allowed an unfettered access to the territory of Crimea for assessing the situation and monitoring of it on the ground.
When the Government of Ukraine invited the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission to our country, it was supposed to be a short-term one, as everybody hoped that the Russian aggression would not last long and that the international community would find ways to stop the Kremlin. Three years after, we clearly see that Russia does not intend to stop.
In this regard Sergiy Kyslytsya informed the members of the Human Rights Council on the case submitted by Ukraine to the International Court of Justice to hold the Russian Federation accountable for supporting terrorism in the East of Ukraine as well as for the discriminatory policy towards ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars in the occupied Crimea. This case will serve as a litmus test, whether the international legal order can stand up to powerful countries that disregard the law and disrespect human rights, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine pointed out.
Assistant Secretary General A.Gilmour, when introducing the report, expressed concern over the human rights violations in the territories out of the Ukrainian government control where basic freedoms and rights of the civilian population are systematically abused, as well as concern over the ongoing supplies of heavy weaponry and ammunition from Russian territory to illegal armed groups. Assistant Secretary General also stressed upon the urgent need to adhere to the ceasefire. Significant attention was paid by A.Gilmour to the situation in Crimea, to which international monitoring still has no access. In particular, stressing upon the ongoing difficult situation with the rights of national minorities, especially Crimean Tatars, Assistant Secretary General informed that the OHCHR will prepare a report on the human rights situation in Crimea within the upcoming months, regardless of whether Russia will provide access to the peninsula or not.
Apart from Ukraine, the delegations of the EU, Council of Europe, over 30 UN Member States, a representative of the Office of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights as well as a number of non-governmental organizations participated in the interactive dialogue.
The vast majority of delegations reaffirmed support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine; condemned the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia; expressed serious concern on the complicated human rights situation on the peninsula; stressed the need to ensure full and unimpeded access for the human rights mechanisms to the whole territory of Ukraine, including to the occupied Crimea; Russia was repeatedly called on to release illegally detained Ukrainians and stop the persecution of the Crimean Tatars; the necessity to implement the Minsk agreements by all sides as the only mechanism to achieve peace in Ukraine was also underlined.
In a dissonance, the Russian delegation dwelled on its traditional rhetoric, which is ever less perceived by the UN members.
The meeting confirmed the continued isolation of the Russian Federation in the leading UN human rights body: the Russian position found no support among delegations.
Check against delivery
Oral presentation of the 17th OHCHR report on the situation in Ukraine
Statement by Mr. SERGIY KYSLYTSYA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine
Geneva, March 22, 2017
Let me thank the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights for his presentation and update.
Exactly three years ago, my Government invited the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission as a short-term one, in Ukraine just for three-month period, having hope that the Russian aggression against my country would not last long and that international community would find a way to stop the Kremlin.
Three years after, we clearly see that Russia does not intend to stop its aggression and illegal occupation of Ukraine`s territory, to de-escalate situation and to implement the Minsk agreements. Today, the Russian leadership publicly confirms its intentions and prepare Russians for life under sanctions for "indefinitely long period of time".
Due to the hard work of the UN Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, today we have another, already the 17th UNHCR report, which contains facts and analysis related to the sphere of human rights in my country. This document once again shows the enormous harm caused to my country by the Russian aggression and illustrates the urgent need of full implementation of the Minsk agreements, especially the implementation of a sustainable, immediate and full ceasefire, regain of full control over the border with the Russian Federation, the withdrawal of weapons, and the disengagement of forces and hardware. The Russian Federation continues to supply deadly assistance to illegal armed groups in Ukraine that have committed numerous terrorist attacks.
Last month the Russian side yet again violated Ukraine's state sovereignty and territorial integrity, Russia's international commitments, as well as the core idea and principles of the Minsk agreements. The Kremlin issued a Decree on recognition of so-called documents issued in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. In fact, the Kremlin's Decree constitutes recognition of the Russia-controlled illegal authorities on the occupied Ukrainian territories of Donbas.
The Kremlin, cynically covering itself by the rhetoric of human rights and humanitarian purposes, put itself over the international law and its own law, and actually admitted its occupation of the Ukrainian Donbass.
In occupied Crimea, the Russian Federation continues to wholly disregard human rights, while implementing policies of cultural erasure and pervasive discrimination.
In its 17th Report the OHCHR documented such serious human rights violations in Crimea as extracting confessions from detained persons through torture and ill-treatment; subjecting individuals of certain groups to forced psychiatric internment; interfering into the professional activities of defence lawyers; refusing access to services to Crimean residents without Russian Federation passports; and different forms of discrimination.
To hide these violations, the Russian authorities deny any access to the territory of Crimea for international monitoring mechanisms.
The so called authorities of Crimea and the Russian Federation as occupying power have been repeatedly called on to ensure direct and unfettered access to the Crimean peninsula for the international human rights monitoring mechanisms, in full conformity with the General Assembly resolution 68/262. The situation on the ground require the in situ international presence there.
As of today, these requirements have not been implemented. I would like to remind that only few months ago three well-known and respectable monitoring bodies from the Council of Europe were denied to enter Crimea and carry out their mandate.
Ukraine is very much looking forward to and is ready to contribute to the appropriate implementation of the paragraph 3 of recent UNGA Resolution 71/205 “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)”. We encourage the Secretary-General to seek ways and means, including through consultations with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and relevant regional organizations, to ensure safe and unfettered access to Crimea by established regional and international human rights monitoring mechanisms to enable them to carry out their mandate.
This process should not be isolated. We expect active participation in these consultations of all the actors from the Council of Europe, OSCE and other international and regional organizations.
We are waiting for a dedicated thematic report on the situation of human rights in the temporarily occupied Crimea based on data collected directly in the field. Until this, each further quarterly report of the Office of the High Commissioner should reflect, in our view, the situation on the implementation of the operative paragraph 5 of the Resolution 71/205, in particular, the results of the getting access by the Monitoring Mission to the peninsula.
Despite the ongoing external aggression, Ukraine remains on a path of comprehensive reforms. We are pleased that our efforts go not unnoticed by the international institutions, including the OHCHR, and they are reflected in the 17th report.
Following up on a number of Human Rights Council resolutions titled “Cooperation and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights”, we committed ourselves to close cooperation with the OHCHR and other international human rights mechanisms, as well as to taking on board their recommendations.
Great amount of work lay ahead in the sphere of combating corruption, gender-based violence, securing social and economic rights, particularly the rights of IDP’s etc.
However, the main obstacle, the main challenge and the main threat to human rights situation in my country continue to be the Russian aggression.
The Russian Federation, like the Soviet Union before, always publicly defends the peace, international security and protects international law. However, looking closer, we see that Russia has not joined the important international legal instruments that are directly related to the conflicts. Among all member-states of the Council of Europe, only Russia is not signed the Convention against Trafficking in Human Beings, this country has not also joined the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, etc. But even as the party of this or that Conventions, the level of Russia`s cooperation with relevant monitoring mechanisms is very limited.
Earlier this year Ukraine submitted a case to the International Court of Justice to hold the Russian Federation accountable for continuous violations of two treaties: the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Ukraine also requested for provisional measures and asked the Court to order the Russian Federation to stop violating the international law in order to protect human rights and to create safe environment for people of Ukraine while the case is pending.
This case will serve as a litmus test, whether the international legal order can stand up to powerful countries that disregard the law and disrespect human rights. We strongly hope, that it can.
To conclude, Mr. President, let me assure you that the Government of Ukraine remains ready to fully cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and encourages all relevant stakeholders to continue strengthening the Monitoring Mission capacity in fulfilling its mandate.
We don’t have another three years. For every day of Russian aggression we pay the price of human life, pain and suffering.