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Human Rights Council 31, Geneva: UK Statement regarding the human rights situation in Ukraine

UK statement delivered during the Interactive Dialogue on the Human Rights situation in Ukraine at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, 22 March 2016.

The UK would like to thank Assistant Secretary-General Ivan Simonovic for his important update on the situation in Ukraine. We welcome the 13th report of the OHCHR Human Rights Monitoring Mission. These independent and objective reports are a vital resource for the international community to monitor the human rights situation in eastern Ukraine and illegally annexed Crimea.

The report shows us the tragic human cost of the continuing crisis in eastern Ukraine. The total number of casualties has passed 30,000, with over 9,000 killed and 1.6 million people internally displaced. With an estimated 3 million living in areas directly affected by the fighting, the enormity of the humanitarian challenge is of great concern.

In eastern Ukraine the report details continuing serious human rights abuses against the local population, including summary executions, torture, and illegal detentions. It also describes growing restrictions on freedom of expression, religion, peaceful assembly and association by Russian backed separatist groups. These are the appalling consequences of Russian aggression, and Russia’s attempts to undermine the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

In Crimea, the report shows the human rights situation continuing to deteriorate, following Russia’s illegal annexation two years ago. Arrests, ill-treatment, torture and intimidation continue to be perpetrated against political opponents and minorities. This is especially true with the Crimean Tatars, whose organisations increasingly are branded as ‘terrorist’. We are concerned about the recent request by the Prosecutor of Crimea to categorise the Tatar Mejlis as an extremist organisation in order to outlaw its activities. Abuses are often committed with the knowledge or participation of the de facto authorities in Crimea, who have denied the OHCHR access.

We are extremely concerned by Nadiya Savchenko’s ongoing illegal detention in Russia and continue to call on Russia to release her immediately.

Mr Simonovic,

Can you provide an update on the latest status of access for international humanitarian and human rights organisations to separatist-held areas in eastern Ukraine?

Thank you.