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The European Union would like to thank the Deputy High Commissioner for her important update on the situation in Ukraine.
The EU remains deeply concerned about the ongoing human rights violations and abuses committed against persons living in non-government controlled areas in eastern Ukraine and in illegally annexed Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation.
The 24rd report of the OHCHR Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine documented increased number of human rights violations on the ground. Large numbers of population suffer from the socio-economic barriers created by the armed conflict. We remain deeply concerned about violations of the right to a fair trial and persisting cases of arbitrary and incommunicado detention, ill-treatment, torture and sexual and gender based violence.
The continuing human rights violations committed on the Crimean peninsula since its illegal annexation by the Russian Federation remain of great concern to the EU. We reiterate that the EU does not recognize the illegal annexation and will continue to condemn this violation of international law. The EU remains committed to fully implementing its non-recognition policy, including through restrictive measures.
We deplore the continuous persecution of persons living in Crimea, including Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian speaking minorities, as well as restrictions on fundamental freedoms, including the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, movement, and religion or belief.
The EU calls for the immediate release of all Ukrainian citizens who are illegally detained in Russia and illegally annexed Crimea, including Oleh Sentsov and Volodymyr Balukh. Theirs detention in Russia is illegal and in breach of international law and elementary standards of justice. The EU also expresses its utmost concern regarding the escalation at the Kerch Straits and the Azov Sea and Russia's violations of international law. There is no justification for the use of military force by Russia. The EU requests the immediate release of all detained Ukrainian seamen as well as the return of the seized vessels and free passage of all ships through the Kerch Straits.
The EU calls on all sides of the conflict to respect international human rights and humanitarian law. In this context we stress that all international human rights observers and monitoring mechanisms should be granted full, free and unrestricted access to the entire sovereign territory of Ukraine. This particularly includes illegally annexed Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, as laid out in UN General Assembly resolution 71/205 and the resolution 72/190 on the situation of human rights in Crimea/Sevastopol. It is unacceptable that millions of civilians remain outside the monitoring mechanisms. We stress the need to fully implement the UN General Assembly resolutions on Ukraine and 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 as a first step towards a sustainable political solution that is based on the respect for Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and independence. We underline Russia’s responsibility in this regard and once again call on Russia to use its considerable influence over the so called separatists it backs to meet these commitments in full.
The EU underlines the need to ensure the respect for rights already exercised of persons belonging to national minorities as enshrined in UN and Council of Europe conventions and related protocols, non-discrimination of persons belonging to national minorities and respect for diversity and to fully implement the recommendations included in the opinion of the Venice Commission no. 902/2017, on the basis of a substantive dialogue with representatives of persons belonging to national minorities. The EU closely follows the legal acts to be taken by Ukraine with regards to the Law on Education in this respect. The EU encourages Ukraine to seek the opinion of the Venice Commission on the draft law on state language policy.
Madame Deputy High Commissioner,
In this winter period, what could be done in order to alleviate everyday life of people who are suffering from the ongoing conflict?