Fight against impunity in Ukraine: a joint situation note

Press release

A climate of impunity still reigns in Ukraine regarding grave violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law committed during the Maidan events, in Odesa in May 2014, in Crimea since November 2013 and most massively in Eastern Ukraine. FIDH, in partnership with CCL, Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, and the Advocacy Advisory Pannel present a joint situation note which sums up the challenges faced in Ukraine, and recommendations on how to address them. Some isolated cases have been investigated and brought to trial, and there are very rare precedents of victims having received compensation for physical and moral damage caused to them. However Ukrainian national authorities have no systematic approach to the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of these grave violations. Nor is there any comprehensive approach to reparations for victims of this conflict.

Ukrainian civil society and victims’ lawyers denounce the lack of political will to investigate and prosecute crimes committed in Ukraine. Our organisations further note the problematic fragmentation of on-going investigations and the lack of coordination between the various investigative bodies. Additionally, and partly as a consequence of the fragmented approach in the investigation of crimes committed in Ukraine, on-going domestic proceedings wrongly qualify the violations of international humanitarian and human rights law as other crimes under national law.

Our organisations reiterate the recommendations to the international community, and notably the EU, Russia and the ICC, provided in the joint FIDH and CCL report Eastern Ukraine, Civilians Caught in the Crossfire. Emphasizing the responsibility of Ukraine to ensure that the investigations comply with the international law, the following recommendations are addressed to the national authorities as a result of the advocacy mission:

1. Reiterate their political commitment to investigate and prosecute violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Ukraine;
2. Provide adequate resources to national investigative bodies and ensure coordination among them;
3. Improve police enforcement, especially with regards to preventing fleeing of suspects outside of the country,
4. Adopt a comprehensive investigative approach consistent with qualification of crimes under international law, and include the investigation of sexual and gender-based crimes;
5. Adopt the Constitutional amendment bill allowing for the ratification of the Rome Statute and ratify it without delay;
6. Open the debate on the eventual international judiciary support mechanism to fill the gap in the absence of genuine national investigations and prosecutions.

The situation note is a follow-up of the International advocacy mission conducted by FIDH from 20 to 24 October 2015. The mission included a two-day FIDH seminar for lawyers representing victims of the Maidan events and the ongoing conflict, as well as meetings with civil society and national authorities to discuss the pursuit of justice and to call for greater fight against impunity in the country.

Read the note Fight against impunity in Ukraine.

See also the joint FIDH, CCL and IPHR note Between unwillingness and incapacity : Will hopes for justice in Ukraine fade away?

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