Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna, at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 8 September 2016
The Delegation of Ukraine aligns itself with the EU statement on the occasion of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances and would like to make some additional remarks in its national capacity.
Any act of enforced disappearance inflicts severe suffering on victims and their families. It constitutes a grave threat to the right to life and a violation of the right to liberty and security of the person and the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
In full commitment to its international obligations, Ukraine issued in 2006 an open standing invitation to all special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council, including the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances. On 14 August 2015, Ukraine acceded the International Convention for the Protection of All persons from Enforced Disappearance and accepted the competence of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances.
Observing the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, we must recall the victims of enforced disappearances and torture, which occurred as a result of the Russian military intervention in Ukraine and illegal occupation of Crimea.
We remember the names of Volodymyr Rybak, a deputy of Horlivka city council, and Yuriy Popravko, a 19-year-old activist from Kyiv, both kidnapped, tortured and murdered by the members of terrorist groups, operating in April 2014 in and around Slovyansk with the support of the Russian military intelligence.
Today, in certain areas of Donbas under the temporarily control of the combined Russian-separatists forces, the breakdown in law and order continues to result in persistent grave violations of the rights of civilians, including abductions and enforced disappearances.
We remember Crimean Tatar Reshat Ametov. On March 3rd, 2014 he went on a one-man protest against Russian occupation in front of the City Hall of Simferopol. The same day he was abducted by the so-called “Crimean self-defense forces”. On March 15th his body was found by a roadside – tortured, badly mutilated, with a bullet in the eye. This became a new reality of Crimea under the Russian occupation.
The OSCE HRAM and the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine collected numerous credible testimonies and reports about the enforced disappearances and torture perpetrated by the individuals in the occupied Crimea acting as members of “self-defence” groups, Cossacks, “Crimean Army” and wearing a variety of uniforms. The groups responsible for such acts have enjoyed the impunity and, in some cases, the active complicity of the de facto authorities.
According to the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, since the beginning of the illegal occupation of Crimea by Russia, 16 persons, mostly Crimean Tatars, have been reported missing and their whereabouts remain unknown, while 11 persons were killed.
Since March 2014, the Russian occupying authorities failed to investigate all these crimes.
We are deeply alarmed that enforced disappearances and torture continue to be widely used by the occupying authorities in Crimea and Russia-backed militants in Donbas as means to spread terror among the local residents.
On 24 May 2016, Mr. Ervin Ibragimov, member of the Executive Committee of the World Congress of Crimean Tatars and member of regional Mejlis, was abducted in Bakhchisaray and his whereabouts remain unknown. On 3 June 2016 the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances of the UN Human Rights Council requested the Russian Federation to provide information on the case of Ervin Ibragimov.
We call on Russia to duly respond to the international concerns over the destiny of the Ukrainian citizens who disappeared on the illegally occupied peninsula, to thoroughly investigate the reported cases and inform about results.
We also deplore that numerous requests of the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances to visit Russia and provide information about the investigation of 476 cases of enforced disappearances remain unaddressed by the Russian authorities.
Any enforced disappearances and torture must be effectively, promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigated with a view to bringing those responsible to justice and preventing a further recurrence.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.