Violations of human rights and freedoms in Ukraine, harassment and persecution of residents of Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as citizens living in the territory controlled by official Kiev, as well as foreign citizens, have become a regular practice.
The International Human Rights Organization Human Rights Watch mentioned the above in its annual report published on January 18 of this year. According to it, there were the following abuses in the context of the armed conflict in Ukraine: restrictions on freedom of speech, attacks by representatives of radical groups, the lack of proper investigation of crimes, illegal detentions, and other.
Thus, according to experts of the international organization, the Ukrainian government significantly restricted freedom of opinion, information and the media under the pretext of countering the Russian Federation. In particular, over the past year, 201 violations were documented in 23 regions – from restricting journalists’ access to information to threats and intimidation.
As an example of encroachment on the freedom of speech, human rights activists pointed out that last year two journalists from TV channel “Pervy Kanal” (First Channel) were expelled from Ukraine on a charge of intending to spread false information about the current situation in the country. Even more revealing was the arrest of the chief editor of “RIA Novosti” Ukraine, Kiril Vyshinsky, for treason. He was charged with participating in “propaganda campaigns” to justify the actions of the Russian Federation in the Crimea.
At the same time, cases of physical attacks on media representatives, community activists, members of ethnic and other minorities by Ukrainian radical groups have become more frequent. “In most of these cases, the police gave no adequate response or did not conduct an effective investigation,” the report said. It also mentioned that despite numerous promises of the Ukrainian authorities, the perpetrators of the deaths of dozens of people in the Odessa House of Trade Unions have not been held accountable. At the same time, the Human Rights Watch experts believe that Ukrainian authorities are responsible for unlawful detention of 18 civilians in a secret prison in the city of Kharkov in 2014-2016, despite the fact that the Security Service of Ukraine keeps denying this fact. These precedents demonstrate the use of double standards in relation to those loyal to the government and those who for political, national, cultural and other reasons disagree with actions of the official Kiev.
In conclusion, the report of the international organization noted that Ukraine, although not a member of the International Criminal Court, recognized its jurisdiction over crimes committed on the territory of the state since November 2013. In that regard, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is currently working on the ground for initiating an investigation of offences in the context of the armed conflict in the territory of Donbass.
The Human Rights Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic monitors the observance of the rights and freedoms of citizens, the restoration of violated rights and taking adequate measures to prevent violations.
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.
Since the beginning of 2019, the Ombudsman received 436 complaints. In the period of work between 19 and 25 January 2019, 8 citizens attended personal reception of the Ombudsman, 37 persons received counselling by the Appeals department, 14 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 8 persons received legal counselling. 20 written appeals were approved for consideration, 13 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 39 calls were received via hotlines, 13 applications were received via e-mail.
All appeals received can be divided into nine categories: violations in criminal law – 18 appeals, violations in civil law – 20 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 4 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of judiciary – 11 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of law-enforcement authorities – 32 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of government officials – 11, social, humanitarian and economic issues – 136 appeals, issues connected with hostilities – 40 appeals, other issues – 34 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 25.01.2019
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 – 57 appeals; transportation, communication and consumer rights – 7 appeals; issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 24 appeals, migration legislation issues – 27 appeals, labour legislation issues – 9 appeals, healthcare issues – 12 appeals, issues of education, culture and sport – 0 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 25.01.2019
Pension and social payments, benefits, disability, humanitarian aid
Migration legislation issues
Guardianship and family law issues
Land use and tenure
Labour legislation issues
Issues of education, culture and sport
Issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services
Activities of public associations, organizations and trade unions, religious organizations
The rights of servicemen and law enforcement officials
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 25.01.2019
- 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.
Within the period between 18 and 24 January 2019, no conflict-related injuries have been documented in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Within the period between 1 January and 24 January 2019, 6 persons, including 3 DPR servicemen and 3 civilian men sustained injuries in the territory of the DPR as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
Within the period between 1 January and 31 January 2019, 2 DPR servicemen died as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
To be specific, since the beginning of the armed conflict 4731 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 25.01.2019, 272 persons are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 111 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been confirmed. 7 persons have been removed from the list of persons whose whereabouts are unknown or are pending clarification by the Ukrainian side.
– 161 persons whose whereabouts are unknown or are pending clarification by the Ukrainian side. 7 persons have been added to the list of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been established and confirmed.
This week the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic didn’t receive any appeals on missing persons.
As of 25 January 2019, 455 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 authorities in cities and districts are now responsible for accommodating affected civilians. Social housing objects, which used to carry out activities under the patronage of the Ombudsman Office, are authorized to supervise the authorities.
During the period of work between 19 and 25 January 2019, 7 persons have applied to the Ombudsman’s Office on the issues related to internally displaced persons. There are currently 1366 accommodation places in the Donetsk People’s Republic available for citizens affected by hostilities. Since the beginning of the conflict, 7264 persons, including 1813 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, 2463 individuals live in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) of the Donetsk Administration, including 468 underage children, 4801 persons live in the housing fund of the DPR, including 1345 children under eighteen.
- 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 and 25 January 2019:
- there were 12.3 thousand vacant positions registered in the Centre by employers;
- there were 8.6 thousand job-seekers registered at the Employment Centre. Among them: 4.7 thousand have been employed (808 of them – on permanent positions, 3.9 – 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. 35 persons undergone vocational training (1 person – training and 34 persons – retraining).
The training covered 7 professions: an electric and gas welder, a bricklayer, a cook, a maintenance technician, a furnace equipment inspector, a hairdresser, a repair and maintenance electrician.