44th session of the UN Human Rights Council
Agenda item 2
Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary General
Intervention by Permanent Representative of Ukraine Ambassador Yurii Klymenko
July 1, 2020
Madam High Commissioner,
Under this agenda item I would like to specifically refer to the report of the UN Secretary General “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine”, submitted pursuant to the UNGA resolution 74/168.
The report confirms the continued disregard by Russia of its obligations as occupying power under IHL and the deteriorating human rights situation in the occupied Crimea, including: widespread abductions, enforced disappearances, tortures, politically motivated persecutions on ethnic and religious grounds, and racial discrimination. The indigenous Crimean Tatar people, who oppose the occupation, have been tortured, persecuted, or expelled from the peninsula, their national institutions have been banned.
Russia’s illegal conscription campaigns and systematic policy of changing the demographic structure of the peninsula are linked to the imposition of Russian citizenship on the residents of Crimea, accompanied by deportations and replacement of protected population with the Russian citizens, mainly members of the Russian army and security forces as well as bureaucracy and administrative staff “imported” into the peninsula. All this amounts to war crimes under IHL.
Furthermore, refusal to obtain Russian passports entails numerous restrictions on the rights of protected persons to property, land, employment, medical care, social and pension benefits.
Let me also note the SG’s reference to Decree No. 187 of the Russian President, issued on 29 April 2019, aimed at simplifying the process of acquiring Russia’s citizenship for nationals of Ukraine living respectively in Crimea or Donbas. It proves the complementarity of Russia’s aggressive strategy in Crimea and Donbas. It should be a wake-up call to those who still try to distinguish Russia’s occupation of Crimea and its actions in Donbas, which entirely represents a continuation of the international armed conflict that started on 20 February 2014. That said, Ukraine strongly condemns the ongoing illegal so-called “voting” for amendments to the Russian constitution organized by the Russian occupation administration in both Crimea and Donbas. It not only aims at legitimizing the occupation of Ukrainian territories, but also at creating a trigger for future escalations under the pretext of “protecting Russian citizens”.
The OHCHR can play a greater role in monitoring and responding to the degrading human rights situation, humanitarian, social and economic situation in the occupied Crimea. We need concrete robust actions of the international community at large, including OHCHR, to compel the Russian Federation to uphold its obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law in both Crimea and Donbas.
I thank you.