Ukraine: No sustainable peace without accountability for crime

Press release
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Paris, 17 February 2014

Despite recent efforts to re-initiate dialogue between protesters and the government, impunity in Ukraine remains rampant. As detained protesters and those under house arrest continue to face criminal charges (some 2,000 persons reportedly remain charged), no investigation has been conducted into the grave human rights abuses committed by state agents, including targeted attacks on journalists and medical workers. No explanation has been given for the hundreds of spent cartridges discovered by journalists at the Berkut dislocation, despite the government’s claim that no bullets have been used in anti-riot actions.

“The authorities must allow a thorough and independent investigation of all cases of violence, ill treatment and disappearances”
, said Tolekan Ismailova, FIDH Vice-President.

Numerous grave and systematic human rights violations have been reported over the past weeks in Ukraine. Protesters, both men and women, have been kidnapped, taken to the outskirts of the city and severely beaten. Nineteen protesters are still missing. Dmytro Bulatov, who went missing on 22 January, was found on 30 January in a village that he had eventually managed to reach. Mr Bulatov had cuts and bruises all over his face and body, his ear was cut and his hands had been pierced by something. After being tortured, he had been left alone in the winter forest blindfolded.

Yuri Verbitsky, who went missing on 21 January together with Igor Lutsenko, was found dead the next day in the forest, his body bearing obvious signs of ill-treatment. Mr Lutsenko, meanwhile, having been beaten and interrogated for hours, was eventually left in another forest and managed to return to the city.

On 6 February, 20 volunteer medics were reportedly injured by police on Hrushevskeho Street. Since the beginning of the protests 136 journalists have reportedly been injured. Evidence confirms that many of these journalists and medical workers were specifically targeted by both police and Berkut riot police officers.

The expulsion from Ukraine on 9 February 2014 of Andrey Yurov, a prominent Russian human rights defender, confirmed the Ukrainian regime’s unwillingness to address impunity. Mr Yurov had travelled to Kiev to participate in the work of the International Human Rights Defenders’ Group on the Situation in Ukraine, which calls for an international investigation on the human rights violations committed in the context of the protests.

“None of those crimes should go unpunished”,
stated Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.  “There can be no sustainable peace without accountability for crime”.

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