The armed conflict has been continuing since 2014 in the territory of Donbass. It has demonstrated the intolerance of the Ukrainian authorities to dissent. Unlawful detentions, intimidation and violence have become one of the forms of struggle against those who disagree. Prohibited methods of interrogation are often used against detainees. According to the principles of international humanitarian law, no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
The issue of the inadmissibility of the use of violence, both moral and physical, against prisoners of war is raised by representatives of the Donetsk People’s Republic at almost every meeting of the Humanitarian Subgroup of the Contact Group on peaceful settlement in Donbass. Daria Morozova calls on the Ukrainian side to sign a declaration condemning any form of torture, ill-treatment, sexual violence and threats of violence against conflict-related detainees. However, representatives of Ukraine have long been refusing to sign the document, which suggests that the Ukrainian government is not going to stop using torture against detainees.
Unfortunately, the reality is that there is no respectful treatment towards prisoners in the territory of Ukraine. The cases of violent abduction and detention, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment, sexual violence are common. The examples of abuse and violence against conflict-related detainees are the cases of Yulia Prosolova, Daria Mastikasheva, Oleksandra Valko, Vitaly Osinsky and many others who were victims of repressive methods of the Security Service of Ukraine. Illegal deliberate acts by employees of the penitentiary institution of Ukraine led to the death of Valery Ivanov, a citizen of the Russian Federation.
The Human Rights Ombudsman in the Donetsk People’s Republic takes a principled position on the issue of the inadmissibility of ill-treatment in respect of persons held by the Ukrainian side. She informs about all relevant cases and offences to international organizations. Only condemning these actions by the world community and handling this issue on the international level, as well as effective investigation and punishment of perpetrators will promote the prevention of violence against a person in armed conflict.
To ensure state protection of the rights and freedoms of citizens, to prevent any discrimination regarding the exercise of rights and freedoms in the Donetsk People’s Republic, the post of the Human Rights Ombudsman has been established.
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 26 January and 1 February 2019, 7 citizens attended personal reception of the Ombudsman, 45 persons received counselling by the Appeals department, 11 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 15 persons received legal counselling. 10 written appeals were approved for consideration, 8 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 38 calls were received via hotlines, 10 applications were received via e-mail.
All appeals received can be divided into nine categories: violations in criminal law – 34 appeals, violations in civil law – 32 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 7 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of judiciary – 12 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of law-enforcement authorities – 37 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of government officials – 17, social, humanitarian and economic issues – 184 appeals, issues connected with hostilities – 69 appeals, other issues – 44 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 01.02.2019
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 – 80 appeals; transportation, communication and consumer rights – 10 appeals; issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 34 appeals, migration legislation issues – 35 appeals, labour legislation issues – 11 appeals, healthcare issues – 14 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 01.02.2019
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 01.02.2019
- 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 27 January, as a result of hostilities in Sakhanka village, Novoazovsk region, a DPR serviceman born in 1980 sustained non-penetrating wound to the lumbar region.
Within the period between 25 and 31 January 2019, 1 DPR serviceman was injured as a result of the armed conflict.
Within the period between 1 January and 31 January 2019, 7 persons, including 4 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 25 and 31 January 2019, 2 DPR servicemen lost their lives.
Within the period between 1 January and 31 January 2019, 4 DPR servicemen died as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
To be specific, since the beginning of the armed conflict 4733 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 01.02.2019, 252 persons are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 101 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been confirmed. 13 persons have been removed from the list as they had served their sentences. Three persons have been added from the list of those whose whereabouts are unknown or are pending clarification by the Ukrainian side.
– 151 persons whose whereabouts are unknown or are pending clarification by the Ukrainian side. 7 persons have been removed from the list as they had served their sentences. Three persons have been added to the list of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been confirmed.
This week the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic didn’t receive any appeals on missing persons.
As of 1 February 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 26 January and 1 February 2019, 10 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, 7249 persons, including 1811 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, 2460 individuals live in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) of the Donetsk Administration, including 468 underage children, 4789 persons live in the housing fund of the DPR, including 1343 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 January and 1 February 2019:
- there were 12.9 thousand vacant positions registered in the Centre by employers;
- there were 9.4 thousand job-seekers registered at the Employment Centre. Among them: 5.1 thousand have been employed (1.1 of them – on permanent positions, 4.0 – 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. Between 1 January and 1 February 2019, 48 persons undergone vocational training (1 person – training and 47 persons – retraining).
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.