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UK statement at the Human Rights Council during the report on the human rights situation in Ukraine

UK statement delivered on 12 December 2016.

The Human Rights Council sits in Geneva.

The Human Rights Council sits in Geneva.

We join others in expressing our condolences to the people of Turkey and Egypt for the terrible loss of life this weekend.

The UK thanks the High Commissioner for his presence and statement. We welcome the presence of deputy minister, Sergiy Kyslytsya and we thank Ukraine for its ongoing cooperation with the OHCHR, which is to be commended.

The UK wishes to thank OHCHR for its latest report on Ukraine. The reports and oral updates continue to provide a vital resource for the international community to monitor the human rights situation in eastern Ukraine and illegally annexed Crimea.

The 16th report shows the continued cost born by civilians living along the line of contact in eastern Ukraine. Despite September’s renewed ceasefire and the consequent reduction in violence, October and November saw ceasefire violations returning to summer levels. It is therefore highly regrettable, but unsurprising that there were an additional 164 civilians, who have lost their lives over the last three months, or that the total number of killed is fast approaching 10,000. We therefore once again echo the OHCHR’s call for both sides to do all they can to protect civilians and call on all sides to meet their commitments so that a full, comprehensive and sustained ceasefire is realised. In particular we call on the Russian Federation to heed the OHCHR’s call to end the flow of weaponry, ammunition and fighters from its territory into the separatist areas. This flow is fueling the fighting and associated human rights abuses. It must stop.

Once again the OHCHR report contains credible reports of the arbitrary detentions of civilians, torture and enforced disappearances, which have been alleged against both armed groups and Ukrainian law enforcers. Little progress has been made in achieving accountability for violations and abuses of human rights committed in the context of the continuing conflict in the eastern regions of Ukraine. Fundamental freedoms continue to be restricted in areas outside of Government control in the east. The report details the risk posed to human rights by the construction of parallel state structures by Russian backed separatist groups, as well as the imprisonment by those groups of an unknown number’s of individuals in places of detention to which the OHCHR has no access. Residents of areas under separatist control are denied basic judicial guarantees such as due process and trial by independent, impartial and regularly constituted courts.

In Crimea, the report details arbitrary detention of individuals on the grounds of their political opinion, as well as further intimidation and violations against the Crimean population during the illegitimate local elections held in September. We share the OHCHRs concerns at the transfer of detainees, many without Russian citizenship, to prison facilities in the Russian Federation. It is lamentable that the de facto authorities in Crimea continue to deny international monitoring organisations access in order to prevent an independent assessment of the human rights situation and we strongly support the OHCHR’s call for full access to be granted.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Published 12 December 2016