The Ukrainian parliament has approved a regulation removing the obligation to protect certain human rights in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
A note accompanying the regulation states that the conduct of what Kiev calls”anti-terrorist operations” in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions is not in compliance with the country’s obligations for the protection of human rights. The document, cited by Tass, also mentions an “objective necessity to take measures to repel armed aggression of the Russian Federation”prompting Ukraine”to implement a temporary derogation from its obligations to ensure certain human rights to the extent permitted by relevant international agreements.”
Among the articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights the Ukrainian authorities can now refuse to fulfill in Eastern Ukraine are those stipulating the obligations to protect the security of citizens and their right to a fair trial, freedom of movement, choice of residence and guarantee the inviolability of people’s homes.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has been instructed to notify the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Secretary General of Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland of the new regulation.
Russian children’s rights commissioner, Pavel Astakhov, said Kiev’s regression on human rights violations was “humanitarian suicide.”
“They have committed ‘humanitarian suicide’ by legally refusing to adhere to the Convention on Human Rights,” Astakhov wrote on his Twitter feed on Thursday.
Kiev’s decision to renege on its human rights obligations under the UN Convention comes at a time when, according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Ukrainian crisis is supposed to make the EU’s partnership with the bloc’s eastern neighbors “more important than ever.” Merkel said peace in Europe had been affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine, stating: “Not least under these circumstances, the eastern partnership is more important than ever.” She spoke in the Bundestag before joining a summit in Latvia with six of the EU’s ex-Soviet neighbors.
“We will further support our eastern neighbors on their path to a society based on democracy and the rule of law,” Merkel added, Reuters reported. Among the eastern partners that the German chancellor was referring to were Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, all of whom have been looking to join the EU.
The Ukrainian conflict broke out in April 2014 after Kiev sent troops to the Donetsk and Lugansk regions after local residents refused to recognize the new coup-imposed authorities in Kiev. The highly-awaited Minsk accords, brokered by Russia, Germany and France in February of this year, brought several weeks of calm to the region, but ceasefire violations by both sides have been growing, hampering the peace process. According to OSCE observers, up to 80 percent of ceasefire violations have been perpetrated by the Ukrainian army and the so-called “volunteer battalions” who are fighting alongside the Ukrainian army.
According to the UN human rights office, at least 6,116 people have been killed and 15,474 have been wounded in Eastern Ukraine during a year of fighting. The real numbers could be much higher, however.
In an interview with RT, the human rights ombudsman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Konstantin Dolgov, described the situation in Ukraine as far as human rights are concerned as “catastrophic.”
“Ukraine is still a country which has quite a number of political prisoners and political inmates. And this is a big problem. They have not abolished their so-called ‘lustration’ law, which has been criticized by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe. [Also we should] not forget about the lack of investigations into huge crimes in Odessa and Mariupol,” Dolgov said in March.
Earlier this month, Moscow called on the international community to put pressure on Ukrainian authorities, which according to Russia’s Foreign Ministry, are not making any “tangible steps” toward an independent and impartial investigation of last year’s Odessa massacre.
On May 2, 2014, Ukrainian radicals set fire to the Trade Union House in Odessa, killing 48 and injuring over 200 anti-Kiev activists inside. “As a result of these barbaric acts of intimidation, several dozen people, whose only fault was that they openly expressed their civic stance against the anti-constitutional coup in February 2014 and outburst of radical ultranationalists, were killed,” the Foreign Ministry’s statement pointed out. The shocking incident received little coverage in the Western media.
Moscow urged the international community, including human rights NGOs, to “decisively and honestly” demand Kiev stage a fair investigation into the Odessa massacre and correct the “glaring flaws” in the Ukrainian judicial system.
The ministry stressed that the lack of attention given to the Odessa massacre in European and US news was “yet another manifestation of information warfare and manipulation of the media.”
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