UN human rights monitors to assess Ukraine, Crimea violence

Friday, March 14, 2014

United Nations announces immediate deployment of monitoring team throughout Ukraine

United Nations announces immediate deployment of monitoring team throughout Ukraine

GENEVA - The immediate deployment of a United Nations human rights monitoring team throughout Ukraine has been announced by the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights.

Ivan Simonovic said on Friday the monitors would help establish facts surrounding human rights violations, including in Crimea, and serve to de-escalate tensions in the country.

The situation of minorities and indigenous peoples in Crimea, in particular the Crimean Tatars, was very vulnerable, Simonovic said in a statement.  

He stressed that the human rights of all people must be respected throughout Ukraine, including in Crimea, particularly the right of all to participate in public affairs and political life without discrimination. 

He added that chronic human rights violations were clearly among the major reasons for the unrest in Ukraine in recent months.

“Warning signs about systemic human rights violations were neglected for many years, including the concerns and recommendations of international human rights bodies,” Simonovic said. “There are serious concerns about the weakness of rule of law institutions, lack of accountability and ensuing impunity for human rights violations. Reports of torture and ill-treatment are also numerous.”

- 'Brutal beating'

With regard to recent protests in Kiev and elsewhere, Simonovic expressed deep concern about allegations of gross violations, such as excessive use of force and extra-judicial killings - including by snipers - as well as torture, disappearances and arbitrary detentions.

“I have personally met with one victim of a brutal beating whose scars, both physical and mental, were clearly visible,” he said. “The perpetrators of human rights violations against that individual and all other victims must be promptly brought to justice, whatever their background, status or affiliation, following independent, impartial and thorough investigations.”

The team of human rights officers from the United Nations Human Rights Office, led by Simonovic, was unable to visit Crimea directly as the authorities stated that they would not receive the mission nor ensure its security, he said.  

However, Simonovic added that did not prevent the team from assessing the human rights situation in Crimea and the team had access to several reliable sources in, and from, Crimea.

“I am gravely concerned about the situation in Crimea, where there appears to be no rule of law at present, and therefore a drastic deterioration in the protection of human rights, as well as rampant fear and insecurity due to misinformation, blocking of information and total uncertainty about what is coming next,” Simonovic added.

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