February 22 marks five years since the day when a coup d’état occurred in Ukraine as a result of a confrontation that lasted several months between supporters and opponents of European integration. The Verkhovna Rada ousted President Viktor Yanukovych from power, changed the Constitution and organised presidential elections.
The events were followed by a deep economic and social crisis in Ukraine, as well as the armed conflict that broke out in the southeast. It has claimed thousands of lives and caused damage to the industry of Donbass.
Over the past five years, the country has been caught in violence and crimes committed on political and ideological grounds. There has been no adequate legal assessment for most of them. Despite the high-profile nature and public rhetoric, the perpetrators of the killings on the Maidan, the tragedy in Odessa and crimes against the civilian population during the conflict in the territory of Donbass remain unpunished. Those responsible for torture, unlawful detention and other human rights violations have not yet been punished. International observers repeatedly documented cases of ill-treatment, torture and kidnapping in their quarterly reports. Thus, in the Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine from August 16 to November 15, 2018, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights documented evidence of former prisoners of war who returned to the territory of the Republics as a result of the exchange on December 27, 2017. They claimed that they had been subjected to ill-treatment, torture and incommunicado detention, and had no access to justice or a way to ensure effective investigation of the violations they had suffered, without the risk of being arrested by Ukrainian law enforcement agencies again.
Attacks on human rights defenders and public figures have become a regular practice in Ukraine. According to Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch, over 2018 alone, more than 50 crimes against civil activists have been documented. Human rights defenders are concerned that as the presidential and parliamentary elections are approaching, the persecution of independent media and activists might increase.
After the events of 2014 in Ukraine, the government began a consistent attack on the rights of believers. The main target of harassment was the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Acts of violence against parishioners and church leaders are common, as well as the seizure of churches. Having created the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the authorities aggravated the schism existing in the local Orthodoxy, and the Ukrainians were divided into “ours” and “theirs”.
The Ukrainian government deliberately divides society along ethnic lines. Representatives of the United Nations record cases of discrimination and violence on the territory of Ukraine against persons belonging to national minorities. There was an alarming trend of attacks on members of the Roma community. The situation with the infringement of the linguistic, educational and cultural rights and freedoms of the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine has become unprecedented. In 2014, an armed conflict was unleashed in Donbass based on national and linguistic discrimination. The number of victims of the Ukrainian aggression runs into the thousands, the shelling continues, the region’s critical infrastructure, including critical civilian objects, is being destroyed.
These facts demonstrate the unfavourable human rights trends in Ukraine, which demands fair and unbiased assessment of actions of Ukrainian authorities, and an appropriate response from the world community. Activities of the Human Rights Ombudsman are aimed at raising awareness and drawing the attention of the global public to the specified problems, as well as at their resolution using all available leverages.
Citizens can apply to the Ombudsman in any suitable way. Now, the majority of applications are still verbal and submitted through personal reception either with the Ombudsman or the heads of the Office, addressing the Public Complaints and Appeals Department, via hotlines and via web-reception on the Website of the Ombudsman. There is a possibility to file a written complaint that may be submitted either in person or via e-mail.
On 20 February, staff of the DPR Ombudsman Office together with representatives of the City Administration and other authorities conducted an on-site reception of citizens in Enakievo.
Citizens that attended the reception were provided with detailed explanations of the norms of the current legislation. As regards issues demanding further consideration, written appeals were accepted for further review by the DPR Ombudsman with its competence.
Since the beginning of 2019, the Ombudsman received 909 complaints. In the period of work between 16 and 22 February 2019, 6 citizens attended personal reception of the Ombudsman, 41 persons received counselling by the Appeals department, 10 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 16 persons received legal counselling and 13 persons through on-site reception. 26 written appeals were approved for consideration, 16 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 47 calls were received via hotlines, 11 applications were received via e-mail.
All appeals received can be divided into nine categories: violations in criminal law – 73 appeals, violations in civil law – 77 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 12 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of judiciary – 21 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of law-enforcement authorities and servicemen – 60 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of government officials – 27, social, humanitarian and economic issues – 342 appeals, issues connected with hostilities – 206 appeals, other issues – 91 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 22.02.2019
Violations in criminal law
Сomplaints against the acts or omissions of judiciary
Social, humanitarian and economic issues
Violations in civil law
Сomplaints against the acts or omissions of law-enforcement authorities and servicemen
issues connected with hostilities
Administrative and legal violations against citizens
complaints against the acts or omissions of government officials
Among all incoming correspondence to the Ombudsman of DPR, the one which deals with the issues of exercise of social rights of citizens and violations of these rights is the most frequent. These issues are: pension and social payments, benefits, disability, humanitarian aid – 129 appeals; transportation, communication and consumer rights – 25 appeals; issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 72 appeals, migration legislation issues – 64 appeals, labour legislation issues – 22 appeals, healthcare issues – 28 appeals, issues of education, culture and sport – 2 appeals. (Diagram 2).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens on social and humanitarian issues, received by the DPR Ombudsman`s Office as of 22.02.2019
Pension and social payments, benefits, disability, humanitarian aid
Migration legislation issues
Transportation, communication and consumer rights
Labour legislation issues
Issues of education, culture and sport
Issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services
The majority of complaints are traditionally received from Donetsk, by territory (Diagram 3).
The number of appeals (complains, applications) from citizens, received by the DPR Ombudsman`s Office as of 22.02.2019
- Death toll, injuries to civilians and soldiers as a result of hostilities in the territory of the Donetsk People`s Republic.
Almost every day the DPR Ombudsman’s Office records cases of violations of Donbass citizens’ rights by Kiev authorities: the right to life, to security of the person.
On 15 February, as a result of shelling against Mayorsk checkpoint by Ukrainian armed forces, two civilian men were injured (refused from inpatient treatment).
On 16 February, a civilian woman born in 1949 sustained a wound as a result of shelling from Dokuchaevsk.
Within the period between 15 and 21 February 2019, 3 civilians were wounded as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
Within the period between 1 January and 21 February 2019, 14 persons, including 8 DPR servicemen, 1 civilian woman and 5 civilian men sustained injuries in the territory of the DPR as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
Within the period between 15 and 21 February 2019, 2 DPR servicemen lost their lives.
Within the period between 1 January and 21 February 2019, 17 DPR servicemen died as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
To be specific, since the beginning of the armed conflict 4746 persons died, including 81 children.
Officially confirmed information on individuals, who have been wounded since the beginning of the conflict continues to be reported to the Ombudsman’s Office in DPR.
- Register of the prisoners of war, missing soldiers
This week the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic didn’t receive any appeals on arrest.
Based on the updated figures as of 22.02.2019, 253 persons are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 101 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been confirmed.
– 152 persons whose whereabouts are unknown or are pending clarification by the Ukrainian side.
This week the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic didn’t receive any appeals on missing persons.
As of 22 February 2019, 456 persons are considered missing. They might be held in Ukrainian captivity.
- Register of displaced persons and affected citizens.
At the time of armed conflict, the civilian population living in the zone of fighting and near the contact line is often affected. With the view to protect the human right to life and security of the person, and to provide assistance to victims as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine, social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres).
Since the beginning of the conflict 5380 referrals for accommodation in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres etc.) have been issued, 137 of them – in 2018. With the coming into force of the Order of the Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic No. 137 of 24.04.2018, Territorial commissions in cities and districts are now responsible for accommodating affected civilians. They work under supervision of the Republican Commission on Resettlement of Affected Persons chaired by the DPR Human Rights Ombudsman.
Since 14 February, the Ombudsman Office started to distribute humanitarian relief for affected citizens living in social housing objects in Donetsk, Makeevka, Enakievo and Starobeshevo region. The humanitarian aid packages include food, household chemicals and hygiene products. The humanitarian aid is provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
During the period of work between 16 and 22 February 2019, 10 persons have applied to the Ombudsman’s Office on the issues related to internally displaced persons. There are currently 1369 accommodation places in the Donetsk People’s Republic available for citizens affected by hostilities. Since the beginning of the conflict, 7204 persons, including 1769 children under the age of eighteen have been registered as persons affected as a result of the conflict. 75 social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) have been opened in the territory of DPR. 52 of them operate, 23 of them are held in reserve. Currently, 2447 individuals live in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) of the Donetsk Administration, including 469 underage children, 4757 persons live in the housing fund of the DPR, including 1300 children.
- Employment situation in the DPR
The Republican Employment Centre is the main institution responsible for providing jobs to the population.
As reported by the Centre, in the period from 1 January and 22 February 2019:
- there were 15.3 thousand vacant positions registered in the Centre by employers;
- there were 11.4 thousand job-seekers registered at the Employment Centre. Among them: 7.2 thousand have been employed (2.8 of them – on permanent positions, 4.4 – temporarily).
The employment centres give vocational training referrals to job-seekers for professions that are in demand on the labour market or according to specific jobs registered by employers, as well as to facilitate their future entrepreneurial activity. As of 22 February 2019, 77 persons have undergone vocational training (10 persons – training, 66 persons – retraining, and 1 person – a course for improvement of professional skills).
The training covered 10 professions: an electric and gas welder, a bricklayer, a cook, a maintenance technician, a furnace equipment inspector, a hairdresser, a repair and maintenance electrician, a computer operator a seller, a tractor driver for farm production.