FIDH Mission in Ukraine Calls On Authorities to step up the Fight Against Impunity

Press release
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Our organisations welcome the commitments made by the Ukrainian authorities during an FIDH international mission last week concerning the ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Meanwhile, there remains a lack of significant progress in the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes committed throughout the country since the Maidan events.

Our organisations [1] call upon the concerned authorities to conduct transparent and impartial enquiries, and carry out legal proceedings. Furthermore, the premilinary analysis under ICC temporary jurisdiction, opened following the request of the Ukrainian authorities, should be extended to cover a larger period.

Three months after the Maidan events, the enquiries launched by the General Prosecutor and the Minister of the Interior have shed light on the responsibilities and the chain of command. Nonetheless no trial has yet been opened in relation to the repression between November 2013 and February 22, 2014 by the security forces against the demonstrators, which led to over 100 deaths and 80 disappearances. Several obstacles have been advanced by the Prosecutor’s office to justify such a state of affairs, in particular the destruction and theft of documentary evidence, and cooperation problems between the ministries concerned.

“ One of the key demands of civil society is an effective and independent investigation into the serious human rights violations committed during the Maidan events. We are convinced that the creation of a special committee at the office of the General Prosecutor, involving NGO representatives that document these violations will enable the State to fulfil its international obligations relating to the victims’ right to justice” declared Olexandra Matviuchuk, Head of the Board of the Center for Civil Liberties.

Our organisations are particularly concerned by the absence of justice for the victims of the serious crimes committed during the conflict in East Ukraine, Odessa, and also in Crimea. The local civil society organisations receive very many accounts of murder, enforced disappearances, abductions, hostage-taking, acts of torture and bombardment of civilians. In such a context, the complaints lodged with the police by the victims are not followed up. And because the police data-base is nation-wide, it is accessible to the separatist units in East Ukraine, leading to possible reprisals against the families of victims.

“The on-going conflict in the country is often invoked by the authorities in justification of the impunity for human rights abuses. And yet, the fight against impunity for the authors of violations - whatever side they belong to - is essential for prevention, deterrence, and therefore for the security of individuals”, declared Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.

In the face of the obstacles to victims’ right to justice, our organisations welcomed the acceptance by Ukraine of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding crimes committed between November 21 2013 and February 22, 2014, and acknowledge the authorities’ commitments concerning the early ratification of the ICC Statutes. However, in order for the international judiciary to be seized of the serious human rights violations committed throughout the country since February 23, our organisations call on the authorities to extend their acceptance of the ICC jurisdiction without any limitation in time.

“We welcome the fact that the Minister for Justice, the Vice-General Prosecutor and members of parliament have assured us that they would support the ratification of the ICC Statutes. An extension of the ICC jurisdiction would enable it to include in its preliminary analysis the crimes committed in particular in Crimea and in East Ukraine, by all parties to the conflict, including by foreign forces, insofar as the criminal acts were committed on Ukrainian territory. We will follow closely such commitments, which must be put into effect quickly in order to protect the victims’ right to justice and to contribute to crime prevention”, declared Patrick Baudouin, FIDH Honorary President.

The FIDH international mission, carried out jointly with its partner organisation, CCL, took place from June 11 to 14, 2014. The mission, which focused its attention on the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes, was able to meet with the Minister for Justice, the Vice-General Prosecutor, the Ombudsman’s office, members of Parliament and many local NGOs, active in documenting human rights abuses committed during the Maidan events, in Crimea and in East Ukraine.

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