Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna, at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 14 April 2016
We join previous speakers in warmly welcoming back to the Permanent Council the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights H.E. Mr. Michael Georg Link and thank him for the comprehensive report, outlining the most important activities of the ODIHR during the last year and presenting the plans for 2016.
We take this opportunity to reaffirm Ukraine’s support for ODIHR’s mandate and activities to promote human rights and democracy across the entire OSCE region and assisting participating States in the implementation of their human dimension commitments.
While faced with the ongoing military aggression from a neighboring state, Ukraine stays committed to the chosen course of profound transformations that will consolidate democracy, good-governance, rule of law and protection of human rights in the country in line with OSCE commitments and international standards.
Ukraine co-operates closely with the ODIHR, its representatives paid numerous visits to Ukraine, and many joint projects are fulfilled. We do believe that such extensive co-operation significantly assists the efforts of the Ukrainian authorities in consolidating the democratic processes, strengthening the democratic institutions and civil society in the country, enhancing implementation of relevant human rights commitments.
Protection of human dignity, of human rights and fundamental freedoms are at the core of the OSCE concept of comprehensive security. Among many challenges that exist, the most glaring violations of human rights now take place in the Russia-occupied territories of Ukraine – areas where the international organizations are not allowed to enter and establish a permanent monitoring, where independent media has been suppressed.
Independent international missions report about critical human rights situation in the conflict-affected areas. According to the UN estimate, a total of at least 9,000 people killed, and at least 21,000 injured in Donbas from April 2014 to February 2016. Over 1,7 million of people affected by the situation in the occupied territories have been forced to leave their homes to other regions of Ukraine.
Two years of illegal occupation of Crimea have been marked by blatant violations of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Crimean population, in particular Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian communities, leaving some activists killed and disappeared. As pointed out by the participants of the joint Informal Briefing held in Vienna on 7 April 2016 these violations are marked by impunity for the offenders and Russia as the occupying power bears full responsibility for these violations and the failure to stop them.
We thank the ODIHR for contributing, along with representatives of the OSCE HCNM, to producing an objective assessment of the situation in the 2015 HRAM Report on Crimea. We encourage the ODIHR to closely monitor the implementation of recommendations contained in the Mission’s Report.
OSCE Institutions should continue to attach great significance to protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the occupied territories, respond to violations and seek by all available instruments the permanent monitoring and presence in Crimea in compliance with the UN GA Resolution 68/262 “Territorial Integrity of Ukraine”. This week the occupation de-facto authorities have suspended the functioning of the Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people. It is yet another step in a string of repressive measures against the Crimean Tatars, the indigenous people of Crimea. We condemn this step and assess it as violation of Russia’s responsibility as an occupying power under international law and the Convention on elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.
We note with regret that despite the requests the ODIHR has not been allowed to officially monitor Nadiya Savchenko’s trial and the cases of other Ukrainian citizens – political prisoners in Russia. We underline the need to undertake due monitoring activities in Russia in connection with the reports of torture against the illegally detained Ukrainian citizens, as well as serious violations of their rights to a fair trial. We call on the ODIHR to use in full its mandate and facilitate the release of all abducted and illegally detained or imprisoned Ukrainian citizens in Russia.
We deplore the situation when the Russian authorities now for years avoid meaningful co-operation with the OSCE Institutions, placing obstacles and effectively barring their visits to Russia. All this happens against the background of increasingly deteriorating human rights situation in Russia marked by curtailing of space for civil society, independent media and political opposition, as well as unprecedented rise of violent extremism, aggressive nationalism, neo-Nazism and xenophobic manifestations.
With the adoption of legislation, which allowed the Constitutional Court of Russia to take rulings on non-implementation of decisions of interstate bodies on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, Russia made a further step that does not only undermine the system of protection of human rights in the Russian Federation itself, but also inflicts a significant blow to the protection of human rights on the European continent as a whole.
This course of the Russian Federation exacerbates its self-isolation on human rights issues and testifies in international legal context to its humanitarian default on obligations in the area of protection of human rights. In conjunction with adoption of restrictive legislation on “foreign agents” and “undesirable organizations”, censorship in the media and internet, restrictions on freedom of assembly, violation of rights of national and other minorities, we witness a worrying picture of a clampdown on democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Russia.
The state of affairs with human rights, fundamental freedoms and rule of law in the Russian Federation merits close attention and reaction of the OSCE Institutions and the ODIHR in particular.
Dear Director Link,
The current threats to human dignity and security in the OSCE region, emanating from the gross breach by one participating State of the Helsinki Decalogue principles and commitments, have to be duly taken into account in ODIHR’s activities. We should seek further possibilities to strengthen OSCE human rights protection mechanisms to address new challenges.
Let me conclude by reiterating Ukraine’s firm commitment to adhere to undertaken OSCE human dimension commitments. I would also like to express confidence that our cooperation with the ODIHR in the areas of its mandate will continue to be an efficient and productive one. We thank Director Link and his dedicated staff for their excellent work and wish them success in their future activities.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.