Ukraine: International community must investigate violence and cut financial aid to the State

Press release
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Violence on Kiev’s Maidan Square last night reportedly left at least 22 dead. In the wake of this tragedy FIDH calls on the international community to urgently deploy an international commission of inquiry into the crimes and immediately suspend all financial support to the Ukrainian government pending the outcome of such an inquiry, ensuring that those responsible for recent grave human rights violations in Ukraine are brought to justice.

FIDH is outraged at reports of the use of live ammunition by Berkut riot police against protesters to forcefully displace them from the Maidan and Kiev City Hall. Reports from Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, substantiated by previous reports from the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner, confirm the deployment of “titushki”, groups of civilian-clothed thugs armed with truncheons, bats and riot-control firearms, supported by the police. FIDH condemns this tactic which is an attempt on the part of the authorities to diffuse their responsibility for the spread of violence.

Yesterday’s outbreak represents a climax in the Ukrainian State’s systematic repression of peaceful protesters, which has involved the commission of numerous grave and systematic human rights abuses against protesters, through the use of violence, torture and the enforced disappearance of activists.

Even if reports suggest that last night’s violence was committed by various sides in the conflict, the Ukrainian authorities bear primary responsibility for these crimes and their perpetrators should be prosecuted said Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.

FIDH calls upon the international community to take firm action and make sure that the Investigation Advisory Panel, proposed by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland, is created and begins its work. The aim of this work is to identify those responsible for crimes and bring them to justice in front of an independent court.

Until those responsible are brought to justice, Ukraine’s international partners must suspend all financial transactions and negotiations with that country; such engagement with this State can only be perceived as direct support for the repressive and criminal attitudes exhibited by Ukraine’s government. In this context, FIDH insists that the Russian authorities suspend all loans and financial support promised to Ukraine, including the purchase of $2 billion worth of bonds announced on Monday, 17 February 2014. The EU should only maintain its commitment to sign and implement the Association Agreement with the Ukrainian authorities once the State demonstrates unconditional adherence to human rights protection, notably through the prosecution of the crimes committed over the past months.

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