Civilians have continued to be killed, unlawfully detained, tortured and disappeared in eastern Ukraine, and the number of internally displaced people has risen considerably despite the announcement of a ceasefire on 5 September, according to a new UN human rights monitoring report, released on Thursday.
“Violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law persist,” the report states. “The situation in the conflict-affected area is becoming increasingly entrenched, with the total breakdown of law and order and the emergence of parallel governance systems in the territories under the control of the [self-proclaimed] ‘Donetsk people’s republic’ and the [self-proclaimed] ‘Luhansk people’s republic’.”
“The continuing presence of a large amount of sophisticated weaponry, as well as foreign fighters that include servicemen from the Russian Federation, directly affects the human rights situation in the east of Ukraine,” the report adds.
According to the UN Human Rights Office, from mid-April to November 18, at least 4,317 people were killed and 9,921 wounded in the conflict-affected area of eastern Ukraine. Since the ceasefire began, from September 6 up to November 18, 957 fatalities were recorded - 838 men and 119 women, although some may have been killed prior to the ceasefire, with the data only recorded later. The number of internally displaced people has also sharply increased from 275,489 as of September 18 to 466,829 on November 19, according to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.
The report states that serious human rights abuses by the armed groups continued to be reported, including torture, arbitrary and incommunicado detention, summary executions, forced labour and sexual violence as well as the destruction and illegal seizure of property.
Severe curtailment of the economic, social and cultural rights of people in Ukraine is also of grave concern. One particularly pressing concern is the threat of interrupted treatment of nearly 60,000 HIV-positive and around 11,600 multi-drug resistant tuberculosis patients in all regions, due to non-completed tenders for the purchase of essential life-saving medicine.
The situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea is also marked by reports of increasing human rights violations and protection challenges, especially for vulnerable minority and indigenous groups, and most notably for the Crimean Tatars.
On a more positive note, during the reporting period, a number of key laws were passed by parliament. These included legislation on IDPs, on corruption, and on reform of the Office of the Prosecutor. On October 15, the Ukrainian President also signed a decree tasking the Government to elaborate a national human rights strategy for Ukraine by January 1, 2015.