The European Union would like to thank the High Commissioner for her important update on the situation in Ukraine.
The EU remains deeply concerned about the ongoing human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law committed 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.
The 30th report of the OHCHR Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine documented a continued consistent pattern of arbitrary detention, often amounting to enforced disappearance, torture and ill-treatment of conflict-related detainees in the so-called "Luhansk People's Republic" and "Donetsk People's Republic". These practices and the impunity of their perpetrators must end. The continued denial of access to detention facilities, despite repeated requests, prevents the OHCHR from monitoring the treatment of detainees and detention conditions. The EU repeatedly stresses that all international human rights observers and monitoring mechanisms should be granted full, free and unrestricted access to the entire sovereign territory of Ukraine.
Significant deterioration of human rights in the Crimean peninsula since its illegal annexation by the Russian Federation remains 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 systematic persecution of Crimean Tatars and persons belonging to Ukrainian speaking communities, as well as systematic undue restrictions on human rights of all inhabitants of Crimea, including the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, movement, and religion or belief. We remain concerned with continued practices of forced conscription, forcible transfers and deportations of Crimean residents by the Russian Federation, that constitute violations of international humanitarian law. We call upon the Russian Federation to grant international and regional human rights monitoring mechanisms unrestricted access to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, in line with relevant UN resolutions.
We welcome the exchange of prisoners agreed between Ukraine and Russia, the last of which took place on 16 April. Unfortunately, in the months that followed no agreement has been reached on the next exchanges, and the number of unlawfully captured Ukrainian citizens remains high. The European Union calls for the immediate release of all Ukrainian citizens who remain illegally detained and imprisoned in Russia and illegally annexed Crimea and Sevastopol, including Crimean Tatar human rights defenders. These include Emir-Usein Kuku and his five co-defendants, Oleh Prykhodko and all others who have been detained in the Crimean peninsula and sentenced in breach of international law.
The EU also calls on all sides of the conflict to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law and human rights 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, 72/190, 73/263 and 74/168 on the situation of human rights in Crimea/Sevastopol . It is unacceptable that millions of civilians, including Crimeans, remain outside the UN monitoring mechanisms. We stress the need to fully implement the UN General Assembly resolutions on Ukraine and the recommendations contained in the OHCHR Mission's reports. Furthermore, the EU is concerned about the continued access restrictions to and from the non-government controlled areas in Eastern Ukraine since 21 March. It is crucial for Russia and the armed formations that it backs allow the OSCE SMM, UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and the ICRC full freedom of movement across the contact line.
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 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 duration of the European Union’s economic sanctions against Russia is linked to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements.
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, 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 fully implement these recommendations, and encourages Ukraine to take into account the opinion of the Venice Commission on the law on state language.
Madame High Commissioner,
Can you elaborate on the overall implications of the current pandemics situation on everyday life of people in affected areas?