Sep 28, 2016

Crimean Tatars: EU Condemns Human Rights Violations in Crimea

The European Union, on the occasion of the 33rd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, released a statement on the Deputy High Commissioner’s update on the situation in Ukraine. In this statement, focussing on human rights violations in Ukraine, the EU mentions the plight of the Crimean Tatars and how their rights have been severely violated since Russia’s illegal annexation in 2014. Violations include the banning the activities of their self-governing body, the Mejlis, by labelling it an “extremist organisation”. The EU condemns these human rights violations and appeals to those responsible and the Deputy Commissioner to take concrete action to ensure the protection of the indigenous community.


Below is a statement by the European Union for the United Nations Human Rights Council:


33rd session

Interactive Dialogue on the High Commissioner oral update on Ukraine

27 September 2016

EU Intervention

Mr. President,

The European Union would like to thank Deputy High Commissioner for her important update on the situation in Ukraine.

The EU continues to follow with utmost concern the ongoing human rights violations and abuses committed at the expense of the people living in areas of eastern Ukraine controlled by so called 'separatists' and in Crimea, illegally annexed by Russia.

The 15th report of the OHCHR Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine brought alarmingly increased numbers of casualties and pointed to the volatile situation in eastern Ukraine that continues to have severe impact on human rights situation of people living in this area. We strongly support the valuable work of the Mission and we welcome its intention to take a closer look at selected areas of human rights concerns also through the thematic report.

The areas of Donetsk and Luhansk experience a 66 per cent increase in civilian casualties since the last reporting period. Over half of all casualties are a result of the use of weapons expressly prohibited by the Minsk Agreements. Therefore, we once again stress that it is important that all parties fully respect and implement their obligations under the Minsk Agreements as a first step towards a sustainable political solution that is based on respect for Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and independence.

The report shows persistent patterns of human rights violations and abuses like enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture and ill treatment. We are also concerned about severe curtailment of freedom of movement and freedom of expression; deprivation of humanitarian assistance as well as several cases of conflict-related sexual violence in so called 'separatists' controlled areas. The cases of persecution, arrests, ill-treatment and torture should be thoroughly investigated as well as all human rights violations and abuses.

We are continuously alarmed by reports on gradual deterioration of the human rights situation in Crimea and by regression of fundamental freedoms, such as freedoms of assembly and expression, since Crimea's illegal annexation by Russia. It is concerning that Ukrainians opposed to illegal annexation of Crimea continue to be prosecuted in violation of the right to a fair trial by the "de-facto" authorities and in the Russian Federation and face harassment, torture and lengthy jail sentences. Crimean Tatars have been in particular subject to persecution. The rights of the Crimean Tatars have been gravely violated through the banning of the activities of the Mejlis, the self-governing body of Crimean Tatars, and by labelling it "an extremist organisation". We condemn it and call on those responsible for the situation on the ground to protect the human rights of all in Crimea.

The EU acknowledges and supports the recent initiatives of the Government of Ukraine to undertake institutional reforms and to adopt constitutional amendments related to the judiciary to protect and enforce the rights and to replace the arbitrary use of power. The EU calls on all sides of the conflict to respect international human rights and humanitarian law and in this context we stress that all international human rights observers should be granted full, free and unhindered access to eastern Ukraine and illegally annexed Crimea.

Ms Deputy High Commissioner,

What concrete measures in your opinion could be taken by the international community for the protection of fundamental rights of people who live in the territories controlled by Russian backed separatists?

Thank you.


Photo Courtesy of Alison V Cartwright