Thank you, Mr President,
The United Kingdom thanks the High Commissioner for her update and welcomes the thematic report on Crimea and Sevastopol, undertaken in line with UN General Assembly resolution 72/190.
February marked the fourth anniversary of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. As the occupying power, Russia has catastrophically failed to protect human rights in Crimea. It also continues to apply its legislation, including holding Russian presidential elections in March, violating international humanitarian law.
Russia continues to deny international monitoring organisations access to Crimea in order to prevent a full independent assessment of the human rights situation. We deplore this refusal and call on Russia to grant access, in line with UN General Assembly resolution 72/190.
Although we cannot know the full extent of human rights violations that have been, and continue to be, perpetrated in Crimea, the UK is deeply concerned about the violations detailed in this report. The use of torture by electrocution, sexual violence, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances and the conscription of Crimean residents into the Russian armed forces, is deplorable. We condemn the ongoing persecution of Crimean Tatars and the banning of the Mejlis Council.
The UK remains concerned about the welfare of 72 Ukrainian political prisoners held by Russia, particularly Oleh Sentsov and Volodymyr Balukh who are on hunger strike. We call on the Russian authorities to release them immediately.
Madam High Commissioner,
What more could the international community do to challenge the persecution of Crimean citizens and detention of political prisoners in Crimea and Russia?