Interactive dialogue with the UN High Commissioner
for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Ukraine
Statement by the delegation of Ukraine as a country concerned
Geneva, 15 December 2021
I thank the Deputy High Commissioner for her presentation and update.
We are also grateful for the OHCHR for its thematic report on an important and timely topic. Though it has not been mentioned in the report, on 27 September 2021, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a decree adopting the National Strategy on contributing to the development of the civil society in Ukraine for
2021-2026, which was drafted with active participation of civil society organizations.
Today in Ukraine there are over 92 470 NGOs, whose activities usefully complement and support the Government’s efforts to cope with the devastating consequences of the Russian armed aggression against Ukraine, which are extensively reflected in the OHCHR report.
In violation of a ceasefire in Donbas, this year alone the Russian forces launched over 2 000 attacks against Ukrainian positions, leaving 65 Ukrainian soldiers dead and 261 wounded. This is in addition to 32 conflict-related civilian casualties, recorded by the HRMMU only from August to November 2021.
If Russia does not de-escalate its current large-scale military build-up along the Ukrainian border, the impact of possible invasion will have disastrous consequences for security, humanitarian, and human rights situation in my country and well beyond.
The situation in the temporarily occupied Crimea is increasingly deteriorating, as the Russian occupation authorities in Crimea continue to restrict freedom of opinion and expression by interfering with the work of journalists and media outlets, as well as prosecuting individuals for their opinions, including those expressed on the Internet.
Citizen journalists who provide unbiased reporting on the real situation in Crimea get arrested. Eight of them are currently behind the bars and one is under house arrest.
Russia continues to deliberately restrict religious freedom in the temporarily occupied Crimea and certain parts of Donbas, destroying the traditionally tolerant religious environment there. Out of 49 religious communities that operated in Crimea in the early 2014, only 5 are currently functioning. Crimean Tatar Muslims, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and Jehovah Witnesses are currently the most persecuted religious communities in Crimea.
In the occupied territories of Ukraine Russia has been destroying political and non-loyal civic organizations of Ukrainians, completely eliminated the system of Ukrainian and Ukrainian-language education, and has been expelling citizens of Ukraine from those territories.
Today, up to 140 political prisoners of Kremlin are being held in Crimea or unlawfully transferred to the Russian territory. After the Crimea Platform Summit, political persecutions, in particular against the Crimean Tatars have intensified.
In September 2021, the Russian FSB detained First Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People Nariman Dzhelyal, who participated in the Crimea Platform Summit, as well as Crimean Tatars activists Aziz and Asan Akhtemovs. They face up to 15 years of imprisonment. Recently, the illegally established the so-called “Supreme Court of Crimea” rejected the appeal of Nariman Dzhelial extending the term of his detention until 23 January.
In November alone, 53 participants of peaceful assemblies in Crimea were detained. 32 of them, including women and journalists, were arrested when they gathered near the detention center to greet the lawyer Edem Semedlyaev upon his release.
The residents of Crimea refused to open doors of their homes for those accompanied by the police to conduct an illegal population census in October. Yet another forced conscription campaign launched by the Russian occupation authorities on 1 October represents a grave violation of international humanitarian and human rights law.
The stories of those who resist Russian attempted annexation and occupation are similar: illegal searches, unlawful detentions, inhumane treatment, tears and sufferings of wives and the children whose carefree childhood ended on the day when secret services of the Russian occupation authorities broke into their homes and took away their fathers. Following the arrests, in some villages where Crimean Tatars live compactly, the so-called "women’s streets” appeared. Many children need long-term psychological rehabilitation after their most horrific experiences.
This is the reality in the occupied Crimea and not the fake picturesque sceneries that the representatives of the Russian occupation authorities will try to impress upon you.
We appreciate Interactive Dialogues within the HRC which regularly raise concerns about the human rights situation in temporary occupied Ukrainian territories.
Tomorrow, in New York, the UN General Assembly will take action on the resolution entitled “Situation of human rights in the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine”. I wish to thank the countries who have cosponsored and supported this document in the Third Committee. Your countries’ vote tomorrow will be the vote in support of the United Nations, as the updated resolution is based on the UN Secretary General’s report on Crimea, which draws on the information gathered on the ground by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.
This shows that our work in Geneva has special relevance and practical implication for the work of the whole UN system. In this regard, I avail myself of this opportunity to thank the High Commissioner and the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine for their commitment and hard work for the human rights cause.
We urge the Russian Federation to provide unimpeded access, in accordance with international law, to the territories of Ukraine it illegally occupies to the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission and other established international monitoring mechanisms so that they could implement their mandates in full.
I thank you.