UN: Action requested to protect Crimeans

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The UN General Assembly’s Third Committee in New York has passed a strengthened resolution calling for significant improvements to the human rights situation in Crimea.

The UN General Assembly’s Third Committee in New York has passed a strengthened resolution calling for significant improvements to the human rights situation in Crimea.

The resolution, which has stronger human rights language compared with the resolution passed last year, will now be formally considered for adoption by the UN General Assembly. 

Olga Skrypnyk, Chair of the Board for Crimean Human Rights Group, said: “We had some concerns with the resolution that was passed by the General Assembly last year. We, and our partners, have worked hard this year through our advocacy to make sure that this new resolution has a stronger human rights focus.”

“We are pleased that many of our recommendations were incorporated in the final resolution. These included –among other elements – creating a safe environment in Crimea for human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists, ending the militarisation of Crimea, addressing impunity for human rights violations, and the importance of Ukraine maintaining strong ties with Crimeans themselves. We are now encouraging the General Assembly to adopt this resolution, and urge the UN to ensure that the recommendations in the resolution are implemented.”

Also this week, Ukraine has had its human rights record reviewed at the UN in Geneva, under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. A number of states made recommendations to Ukraine in relation to Crimea.

Tetiana Pechonchyk, Chair of the Board for Human Rights Information Centre, said: “The underlying responsibility for the human rights crisis in Crimea lies with the Russian authorities who are to be held accountable as occupying power.  At the same time, there are several areas in which the Ukrainian authorities have the possibility to take steps to improve the human rights situation in Crimea.”

“We have met with a number of state delegations over recent months and argued that access to Crimea needs to be simplified, particularly for international human rights monitors and journalists. We have also stressed that the human rights of all Crimeans need to be protected, whether in Crimea or in mainland Ukraine.”

“Thankfully, many state delegations agreed with our research and analysis and put forward strong recommendations. We will now work to ensure that Ukraine implements these recommendations.”

During Ukraine’s UPR, a number of states made recommendations relating to the challenges of access to Crimea, and issues around freedom of movement.

Georgia, one of the first states to speak during Ukraine’s UPR, recommended that Ukraine “intensify cooperation with the international community in order to ensure access of international human rights and humanitarian actors and monitoring mechanisms to the whole territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders with the aim to monitor, report and address the human rights situation”

This recommendation was echoed by a number of other states, including Australia, the US, and the UK.  Australia focused on access of international organisations, calling “on all parties to guarantee international organisations’ unimpeded access to Crimea and the conflict zones in eastern Ukraine, and to implement their Minsk 2 obligations”. The UK emphasised Ukrainians themselves, recommending to “simplify access to public administrative services for Crimean residents and enable Ukrainian citizens to move smoothly between Crimea and the rest of Ukraine”.

Romania commended Ukraine’s efforts to safeguard the rights and freedoms of citizens living in Crimea, while Poland “welcomed extra efforts of Ukraine to protect those who are most vulnerable, including IDPs and Crimean Tatars”.

The Netherlands, Korea, and Italy all called on Ukraine to strengthen the rights of human rights defenders and journalists. Mention was also made by Denmark and the Czech Republic on legislation affecting NGOs, with Ukraine being urged not to place undue bureaucratic measures on human rights organisations operating in the country.

Ukraine’s UPR report is was published on September 17th along with the full list of recommendations made during Ukraine’s review.