4 years ago, in response to the aggravation of the armed conflict in Donbass the leaders of the “Normandy Four” agreed on the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements at the summit in Minsk on February 11-12, 2015 to de-escalate the confrontation. The document, signed by representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the OSCE, and the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, includes 13 paragraphs and provides for a ceasefire in Donbass, a withdrawal of heavy weapons, creation of a security zone, organization of effective OSCE monitoring of the ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops, the exchange of all hostages on the basis of the principle “all for all”.
In the past four years since the signing of the Minsk agreements, the Ukrainian side has been making attempts to derail efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement. Armed units of Ukraine constantly violate the cease-fire regime, continue to target infrastructure objects in Donbass. Military action by the Armed Forces of Ukraine causes civilian casualties. Kiev is failing to fulfil its obligations to return the POWs. Ukrainian authorities adopt legislation that directly contradicts the Minsk agreements, having established economic, transport, energy and other kinds of blockade in the region.
Nevertheless, the document continues to be relevant as the only alternative mechanism for the peaceful settlement of the conflict in the territory of Donbass. It is important to note that the signing of peace accords helped to reduce tension and war activities. Thus, the death toll of citizens of the Donetsk People’s Republic decreased sixteen times in 2018 as compared to 2014.
Peace initiatives are discussed at meetings of the Contact Group in Minsk. Humanitarian issues are subject to discussion at the Humanitarian Subgroup, namely: search for missing persons, signing the Declaration on the Non-Use of Torture, returning documents to people released from Ukrainian captivity, and implementing paragraphs 5 and 6 of the Minsk agreements. These clauses provide for pardon and amnesty by enacting the law prohibiting the prosecution and punishment of persons in connection with the events that took place in certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine, as well as the release and exchange of all hostages and unlawfully detained persons. The DPR Human Rights Ombudsman Daria Morozova is the official representative of the Donetsk People’s Republic in the Humanitarian Subgroup.
“Last year, at the Humanitarian Subgroup meetings we focused our efforts on closure of criminal cases against persons released as a result of the exchange of 27 December 2017, returning identity documents and medical records to them,” said Daria Morozova, noting that “at the moment there is no alternative to the Minsk agreements.”
To ensure state protection of the rights and freedoms of citizens, to prevent any form of discrimination regarding the exercise of rights and freedoms in the Donetsk People’s Republic, the post of Human Rights Ombudsman was 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.
On 13 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 Snezhnoe.
Citizens that attended the reception were provided with detailed explanations of the norms of the current legislation. 5 citizens asked for Ombudsman’s assistance in restoring their rights and received counselling.
Since the beginning of 2019, the Ombudsman received 737 complaints. In the period of work between 9 and 15 February 2019, 3 citizens attended personal reception of the Ombudsman, 38 persons received counselling by the Appeals department, 23 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 11 persons received legal counselling, and 8 persons through on-site reception. 11 written appeals were approved for consideration, 22 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 43 calls were received via hotlines, 15 applications were received via e-mail.
All appeals received can be divided into nine categories: violations in criminal law – 52 appeals, violations in civil law – 64 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 10 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of judiciary – 15 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of law-enforcement authorities and servicemen – 45 appeals, complaints against the acts or omissions of government officials – 25, social, humanitarian and economic issues – 275 appeals, issues connected with hostilities – 172 appeals, other issues – 79 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 15.02.2019
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 – 110 appeals; transportation, communication and consumer rights – 18 appeals; issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 57 appeals, migration legislation issues – 54 appeals, labour legislation issues – 15 appeals, healthcare issues – 20 appeals, issues of education, culture and sport – 1 appeal. (Diagram 2).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens on social and humanitarian issues, received by the DPR Ombudsman`s Office as of 15.02.2019
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 15.02.2019
- 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 8 February, as a result of military operations in the vicinity of the industrial zone outside Yasinovataia, 4 servicemen born in 1990, 1970, 1993 and 1975 sustained mine-blast traumas and wounds of various severities.
Within the period between 8 and 14 February 2019, 4 DPR servicemen were wounded as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
Within the period between 1 January and 14 February 2019, 11 persons, including 8 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 8 and 14 February 2019, 7 DPR servicemen lost their lives.
Within the period between 1 January and 14 February 2019, 15 DPR servicemen died as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
To be specific, since the beginning of the armed conflict 4744 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 received one appeal on arrest. A man born in 1983 was detained outside Gorlovka in January 2019. Reportedly, now he is in Artyomovsk remand prison (SIZO).
Based on the updated figures as of 15.02.2019, 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 received one appeal on a missing person – a man born in 1976.
As of 15 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.
During the period of work between 9 and 15 February 2019, 23 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, 7244 persons, including 1788 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, 2454 individuals live in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) of the Donetsk Administration, including 469 underage children, 4790 persons live in the housing fund of the DPR, including 1319 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 15 February 2019:
- there were 14.7 thousand vacant positions registered in the Centre by employers;
- there were 10.9 thousand job-seekers registered at the Employment Centre. Among them: 6.6 thousand have been employed (2.3 of them – on permanent positions, 4.3 – 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 15 February 2019, 71 persons undergone vocational training (9 person – training and 62 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.