The European Union thanks the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General for their important reports on the human rights situation in Ukraine.
The EU remains deeply concerned about the ongoing human rights violations and abuses, and violations of international humanitarian law committed especially against persons living in areas of eastern Ukraine not controlled by the government of Ukraine, and in illegally annexed Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation.
We are appalled by the increased civilian casualties, including children, remaining violations of fair trial guarantees, cases of arbitrary secret and incommunicado detentions, persistent patterns of torture and ill-treatment, including conflict-related sexual violence, and the overall lack of accountability. In particular, we are shocked by the recently reported torture of Vladyslav Yesypenko, a freelance journalist with Radio Free Europe, by the Russian authorities in Crimea.
We furthermore deplore continuing attacks, online and offline, against civil society members, including human rights defenders, including women, media workers, political actors, LGBTI persons and persons belonging to religious and ethnic minorities, in particular Crimean Tatars.
The EU calls for the immediate end of any such attacks, as well as the immediate and unconditional release of all Ukrainian citizens who remain illegally detained and imprisoned in Russia and in areas of eastern Ukraine not controlled by the government of Ukraine, and in illegally annexed Crimea and Sevastopol.
Significant deterioration of the human rights situation in the Crimean peninsula since its illegal annexation by the Russian Federation remains of great concern to the EU. We reiterate EU’s firm policy of non-recognition of the illegal annexation and occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol, continue to condemn this act of aggression, and remain committed to fully implementing this policy, including through restrictive measures.
The EU urges all sides of the conflict to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including the prohibition o arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment. In this context we stress that all international and regional human rights observers and monitoring mechanisms should be granted full, free and unrestricted access to the entire territory of Ukraine. This particularly includes illegally annexed Crimea and Sevastopol, as laid out in UN General Assembly resolution 71/205, 72/190, 73/263, 74/168 and 75/192 on the situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, and applies also to the non-government controlled areas in Eastern Ukraine. At the same time, we stress the need to fully implement the UN General Assembly resolutions on Ukraine and the recommendations contained in the OHCHR Mission's reports.
It is also crucial that all parties fully respect and implement their obligations under the Minsk Agreements to reach a sustainable political solution to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine that is based on the respect of Ukraine's independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. We underline Russia’s responsibility in this regard and once again call on Russia to use its considerable influence over the armed formations it backs to meet these commitments in full.
The EU furthermore underlines the need to ensure and strengthen the respect for rights already exercised of persons belonging to national minorities in Ukraine as enshrined in UN and Council of Europe conventions and related protocols, non-discrimination of persons belonging to national minorities and respect for diversity, on the basis of a substantive dialogue with representatives of persons belonging to national minorities.
The EU takes note of the steps taken by Ukraine to implement the recommendations of the Venice Commission on the law on education and underlines the need to implement these recommendations, and encourages Ukraine to take into account the opinion of the Venice Commission on the law on state language. The EU also welcomes the adoption of the new National Human Rights Strategy by the President of Ukraine on 24 March 2021.
The UE renews its call on Ukraine to uphold its commitments on personal data protection and on the protection of journalists.
Finally, the EU reaffirms its staunch support for the rules-based international order and effective multilateralism.
Madam High Commissioner,
What do you see as the most important steps that the international community can take to contribute to ensuring full accountability for cases of arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment and justice for the victims?